This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
COMMON NAMES. Peruvian Bark, Jesuits' Bark.
MEDICINAL PART. The bark.
Description. -- The bark is obtained from the Cinchona Calisaya, Cinchona Condaminea, Cinchona Succirubra, and Cinchona Lancifolia. These trees are all evergreen trees or shrubs. Their generic character is to have opposite entire leaves; flowers white, or usually roseate or purplish, and very fragrant; calyx a turbinated tube; corolla salver-shaped; stamens, five; anthers, linear; style, simple; stigma, bifid. The fruit a capsule, ovate or oblong, filled with numerous winged seeds. About thirteen varieties of cinchona are known to commerce, but the above are the most important. Of these species the former three yield respectively the pale, yellow, and red cinchona barks, and the fourth is one of the sources of quinine.
History. -- Cinchona is a very old discovery, and takes its name from the wife of the Spanish viceroy, Count de Cinchon, who was cured of fever by it, at Lima, about the year 1638. For some time after its introduction into Europe, the Jesuits, who received the bark from their brethren in Peru, alone used it, and kept to themselves the secret of its origin; and their use of it was so successful that it received the name which still clings to it of "Jesuits' Bark." The bark richest in the antiperiodic alkaloids is the Cinchona Calisaya. The geographical range of the cinchonas appear to be exclusively confined to the Andes, within the boundaries of Peru, Bolivia, Equador, and New Granada. Thirteen species furnish the barks of commerce, and all of them are found growing from one to ten thousand feet above the level of the sea. The four species we have named at the head of this article are, however, the only ones recognized by the United States Pharmacopoeia, and are the favorites everywhere. Since the seventeenth century these barks have been the study of men versed in medical and chemical science, and they and the preparations made from them rank among the most important articles of the Materia Medica. It contains numerous active principles, but the most important, and one chiefly used is quinine.
Properties and Uses. -- Cinchona bark is tonic, antiperiodic, astringent to a moderate extent, and eminently febrifuge. It is topically (or externally) antiseptic, and is of much value when applied to gangrenous ulcerations, or used for gargles and washes in erysipelas, ulcerated sore throat, mouth, etc. I do not recommend the use of the bark in cases where the stomach is very much weakened (although it is employed in every disease in which there is deficient tone), because the woody fibre in the powder will most generally disagree. When taken internally it imparts a sensation of warmth to the stomach, which gradually spreads over the whole body; the pulse becomes stronger and is accelerated, and the various organs are gently stimulated. It may be used with benefit in ordinary cases of dyspepsia, general debility, and all febrile, eruptive, and inflammatory diseases, in whatever stage they may be. In all cases of night-sweating, or great feebleness, it is valuable. As an antiperiodic it is not surpassed by anything else used. When it excites nausea, add an aromatic; if purging, opium; if costiveness, rhubarb.
Quinine is a white flocculent powder, inodorous, and has a very bitter taste. It is very sparingly soluble in warm water, still less so in cold water. It is readily soluble in hot alcohol, and tolerably so in ether. It is always best to administer quinine instead of the bark, unless some of the effects of the other principles are desired.
Dose. -- Of the powder, half a drachm to a drachm; fluid extract, ten to sixty drops; of quinine, from one to fifteen grains, according to purpose.