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Quinine: effect, application, and side effect of the bitter substance

Quinine: effect, application, and side effect of the bitter substance - Image by GOKALP ISCAN from Pixabay
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The active ingredient quinine occurs naturally in the bark of the cinchona tree and is getting used as a drug and bitter substance. The quinine effect is getting used to reduce fever, muscle cramps, and malaria. 

The active ingredient is generally getting considered to be well getting tolerated. In rare cases, however, significant side effects occur. 

Here you can read all the essential information on the question What is quinine? Its use and side effects.

What is quinine?

Quinine is a bitter substance that we may add to spirits and soft drinks. Some people, such as pregnant women or people with muscle weakness, should avoid quinine drinks.

Quinine occurs naturally in the bark of the South American cinchona tree and belongs to the group of so-called alkaloids. Isolated, it is a white, crystalline powder with a very bitter taste.

As a flavoring agent, it may be added to non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages in quantities of up to 100 milligrams per liter. For spirits, doses of up to 250 milligrams per liter are getting permitted. 

However, these maximum values are not usually exhausted. For example, the soft drink with the highest quinine content, tonic water, contains an average of about 60 milligrams of quinine per liter. For Bitter Lemon, the values average 30 milligrams of quinine per liter.

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Quinine and its effect

The bitter substance quinine is said to have various effects, which means that it is also used for multiple places and occurring complaints in our body.

Concerning muscle pain or tension, quinine ensures that the muscles relax for a more extended time. In addition, it improves the distribution of calcium in the muscles.

If an intense fever or general pain develops, the bitter substance also counteracts this. Quinine has been getting used for these purposes as a medicine for a hundred years.

Until the 1940s, quinine was considered the only remedy for malaria. Even today, it is still getting used in the form of an injection solution in the treatment of severe cases of malaria. 

It is also getting used for pregnant women who have been getting infected with a tropical disease. 

Application of the bitter substance quinine

Surely you ask yourself the question, in which way the treatment with quinine is getting carried out.

In most cases, the application of quinine is getting carried out by taking tablets. In case of low muscle tension, a tablet of 200 milligrams is getting recommended. If severe pain occurs, affected persons should take two of the tablets.

In malaria cases, intravenous therapy is administered, which is getting adjusted according to the severity of the infection. A physician can only help this malaria infection therapy. 

Side effects of quinine

Most patients who are getting treated with quinine tolerate it well. Of course, there are isolated cases in which patients complain about side effects.

If side effects occur, they usually only happen at very high doses or during therapy over a more extended time. The majority of these disappear as soon as the treatment with quinine is finished.

Side effects include nausea and even vomiting, diarrhea, headache, tinnitus, or impaired vision. In addition, those affected complain of skin rashes, heart problems, low blood pressure, kidney damage, or general hypersensitivity. 

FAQ Quinine

What does quinine do in the body?

The active ingredient quinine occurs naturally in the bark of the cinchona tree and is getting used as a drug and bitter substance. The quinine effect is getting used to reduce fever, muscle cramps, and malaria. The active ingredient is generally getting considered to be well getting tolerated.

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How harmful is quinine?

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment names various risk groups and advises them against consuming beverages containing quinine. These include pregnant women, as damage to the fetus cannot be ruled out, people with tinnitus, hemolytic anemia (anemia), or damage to the optic nerve.

What is quinine in tonic?

Optionally, sugar is added, according to taste fruit acids. The higher the content of quinine, the more bitter the taste. Quinine is getting extracted from the bark of the cinchona tree, also called cinchona or fever tree.

Why is quinine in beverages?

Today, quinine is getting added as a flavoring component to bitter spirits and some non-alcoholic soft drinks, such as tonic water and the fruit-juice-based sodas bitter orange and bitter Lemon, because of its strong bitter taste.

How healthy is tonic water?

Is tonic water healthy? Due to the lower quinine content, tonic water is safe for healthy people as long as they consume it in average amounts of one liter or less.

How much quinine is in Schweppes?

There is 34 mg of quinine per liter in the Bitter Lemon sold under the Schweppes brand. Bitter Lemon, like tonic water, was once used by colonial powers to prevent malaria.

How healthy is gin?

Especially juniper berries provide a strengthening of our immune system. In addition, gin is relatively low in calories: 1cl contains about 23 calories. Gin is also good for the skin, as it is rich in anti-oxidants and neutralizes free radicals, which, among other things, promote rapid aging of the skin.

Is Limptar N dangerous?

1,2 Threatening disruptive effects of the alkaloid have long been getting known. In addition to cardiac arrhythmias, tinnitus, hearing and visual disturbances, potentially fatal immune-allergic thrombocytopenias, and hemolytic-uremic syndrome or hemolytic uremic syndrome are getting known.

Are beverages containing quinine healthy?

High consumption of beverages containing quinine is not entirely harmless to health. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment suggests that pregnant women, in particular, avoid quinine-containing drinks such as tonic water altogether so as not to harm the child.

Is bitter Lemon harmful to health?

Drinks containing quinine are popular thirst quenchers in the summer. But some patients should be advised against Bitter Lemon & Co. The alkaloid quinine is extracted from the cinchona tree bark and is used to treat malaria and nighttime calf cramps.

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How does quinine in Bitter Lemon work?

Quinine used in pharmacy as a sulfate, quinine acts directly at the junctions of nerves and muscle fibers, which can be used therapeutically for muscle cramps. This mode of action was recognized as early as 1939 by the American Dr. A. McGehee Harvey.

What is quinine contained in?

Because of its strong bitter taste, quinine is added as a flavoring component to non-alcoholic soft drinks such as tonic water and the fruit juice-containing lemonades bitter orange and bitter lemon, among others. It is also getting found in some bitter spirits.

Why not take quinine during pregnancy?

Quinine originates from the bark of the cinchona tree. It is used in medicine to treat malaria and night cramps in the calves. Pregnancy is considered a contraindication. The flavoring is getting deemed to induce labor mildly and, in high doses, can affect the health of both mother and child.

Is quinine in gin?

Whether mixed with gin or neat with Lemon – tonic water has made a name for itself worldwide with its slightly bitter note. The flavor component quinine gives the refreshing drink its taste.

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Is tonic water the same as bitter Lemon?

Bitter Lemon is very similar to tonic water. Like a tonic, it contains the quinine responsible for the bitter taste. However, in contrast to tonic water, lemonade, lemon juice, or aroma is added to bitter Lemon.

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