Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Quinine, C20H24N2O2, is a natural alkaloid having antipyretic, antimalarial and analgesic properties. It was formerly used in the prevention of malaria until supplanted by its derivatives quinacrine, chloroquine, and primaquine.

It was derived from the bark of the Cinchona, a Peruvian tree. Quinine was isolated in 1820 and synthesis was achieved in 1944.

Excessive use of quinine may cause cinchonism and even death.

Quinine is a flavour component of tonic water. According to tradition, the bitter taste of antimalarial quinine tonic led British colonials in India to mix it with gin, thus creating the Gin and Tonic cocktail.

However, even if this was the case, today's refreshing gin & tonic is a rather different drink from theirs: the quantity of quinine in a glass of modern-day tonic water is a tiny fraction of that formerly used in treating malaria.

External link