What is Quinine

Quinine is an anti-malarial drug. It is used to cure malaria caused by Plasmodium vivax but it does not prevent the disease. This disease should be taken under strict supervision. Quinine is also meant to get relief from night time leg cramps but due to side effects, this practice needs to be avoided.

The chemical formula for quinine is C20H24N2O2. Its chemical name is Quinine Sulfate. The taste is quite bitter and sometimes patients tend to vomit after consuming it orally. Quinine was initially used by Peruvians to subside shivering due to low temperatures.

Quinine is derived from the bark of cinchona. It is used to treat malaria only when artemisinins are not available for the treatment. Artemisia is a Chinese herb used to cure uncomplicated malaria. The need of quinine was felt because some strains of malaria parasite showed resistance towards this herb.

Quinine is a basic amine and is administered as salt. All quinine salts may be given intramuscularly or intravenously and sometimes rectally. Rectal administration however, does not ensure sufficient absorption into the body.

Quinine kills parasites inside the red blood cells. It is dreaded more for it adverse effects. If injected in wrong nerve, it may cause paralysis. Cinchonism is a famous side effect of quinine. Cinchonism may even cause death due to pulmonary edema.

Quinine if taken in toxic dose may cause renal failure in pregnant ladies still WHO has recommended controlled use of it for first line treatment of malaria in pregnant ladies. Quinine is not an effective facilitator for abortion. It is not fit for heart patients as it can cause abnormal heart rhythms.US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has discouraged the use of quinine as OTC drug for leg cramps.

Quinine can be used for non-medical purposes also. It is used as an ingredient in beverages like bitter lemon. It is also used to make carbonated and caffeinated drinks. It is a key component in tonic water also. Tonic water is made by boiling cinchona bark and then sweetened with sugary syrup to subside the bitterness. This tonic is meant to cure cramps and shivering. Quinine finds its scientific use as a photochemical agent because of its fluorescence causing ability.

While using quinine as medication, it is important not to skip any dose else it may cause recurrence of malaria. Full prescription should be followed even if symptoms disappear after few days. Despite the known side effects, it is a preferred treatment for malaria because priority is to cure malaria which is a fatal disease if not take care of immediately. Side effects can anyways be prevented by using it in proper supervision. Maintenance of quinine level in body is essential to prevent the case of thrombosis