Quinine

Quinine ( /ˈkwaɪnaɪn/, /ˈkwɪniːn/ or /kwɪˈniːn/ KWIN-een) is a natural white crystalline alkaloid having antipyretic (fever-reducing), antimalarial, analgesic (painkilling), and anti-inflammatory properties and a bitter taste. It is a stereoisomer of quinidine which, unlike quinine, is an antiarrhythmic. Quinine contains two major fused-ring systems: the aromatic quinoline and the bicyclic quinuclidine.

Though it has been synthesized in the lab, quinine occurs naturally in the bark of the cinchona tree. The medicinal properties of the cinchona tree were originally discovered by the Quechua, who are indigenous to Peru and Bolivia; later, the Jesuits were the first to bring the cinchona to Europe.

Quinine was the first effective treatment for malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum, appearing in therapeutics in the 17th century. It remained the antimalarial drug of choice until the 1940s, when other drugs replaced it that have less unpleasant side effects. Since then, many effective antimalarials have been introduced, although quinine is still used to treat the disease in certain critical circumstances, such as severe malaria, and in impoverished regions due to its low cost. Quinine is available with a prescription in the United States and over-the-counter, in minute quantities, in tonic water. Quinine is also used to treat lupus and arthritis. Quinine was also frequently prescribed in the US as an "off-label" treatment for nocturnal leg cramps, but this has since been prohibited, in effect, by an FDA statement warning against the practice. Chloroquine was developed synthetically for use against malaria and has been an effective way to treat this disease.

Quinine is very sensitive to ultraviolet light (UV) and will fluoresce in direct sunlight, due to its highly conjugated resonance structure (see Quinoline).

Read more about Quinine:  Mechanism of Action Against P. Falciparum, History, Dosing and Indication, Adverse Effects, Regulation By The United States Food and Drug Administration, Nonmedical Uses of Quinine

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