Cinchona sp.

Last updated: 27 Feb 2017

Scientific Name

Cinchona sp.


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Kuinin [1]
English Cinchona, quinine [1]
Indonesia Kina [1]
Thailand Quinin [1]
Cambodia Kini [1]
Vietnam Canh ki na[1]
France Quinquina [1]

Geographical Distributions

Cinchona sp. tree is native to South America, most commonly found in Ecuador, but also found in Bolivia, Costa Rica, Peru and Venezuela. It is now cultivated throughout Southeast Asia. The tree can grow in several types of terrain but requires very nutrient-rich soil in order to thrive. The roots of this plant need to be exposed to the air so rocky areas are well suited for the growth of this plant. [1]

Botanical Description

Cinchona sp. is a member of the family Rubiaceae. Cinchona sp. is identified as small evergreen trees or shrubs with a course, rough bark with a thin-walled cork. [1]

The leaves are smooth on the surface and oval in shape. [1]

The flowers produces fragrant. [1]


No documentation

Chemical Constituent

Cinchona sp. contains alkaloids, mainly quinine but also including quinidine cinchonine and cinchonamine; tannins, bitter triterpenic glycosides (quinovin), and quinic acid [2]. Typical Cinchona sp. contains about 16% of quinoline alkaloids consisting mainly of quinine, quinidine, cinchonine, and cinchonidine [3].

Plant Part Used

Bark [1]

Traditional Use

The name ‘Cinchona’ refers to several species that cross-breed creating hybrids that are difficult to specifically classify. Cinchona sp. has great importance in that some of the alkaloids have been invaluable in creating medicines. Cinchona sp. used for treating malaria is an example of this. Alkaloids from this plant are also used in beverages and as general tonics. [1]

The name ‘Peruvian bark’ refers to several species that cross-breed creating hybrids that are difficult to specifically classify. The plant has great importance in that some of the alkaloids have been invaluable in creating medicines. Quinine used for treating malaria is an example of this. After its discovery in the early 1600’s, it became a registered product in the British Pharmacopoeia for use in treating malaria. Cinchona sp. has also been used to treat fevers, cancer, mouth and throat diseases, indigestion, anemia and in some areas to treat parasites. [4][5]

Preclinical Data


Antimalarial activity

Blood schizontocidal activity of the four main cinchona alkaloids against four main cinchona alkaloids against Plasmodium falciparum was compared in 46 fresh parasite isolates, using an in-vitro test measuring the drug-specific inhibition of schizont maturation. The studies were conducted in June to August 2001 at northwestern Thailand. Quinidine showed the highest blood schizontocidal activity, followed by cinchonine, cinchonidine and finally quinine, which was identified as the least active compound. The mean EC50 values for quinine, quinidine, cinchonine and cinchonidine were 144 nM, 80 nM, 104 nM and 225 nM respectively. [6]


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

Neuromuscular junction blocking action

Various crossover, randomized trials and two meta-analyses have confirmed that quinine is effective in the prevention of nocturnal leg cramps, with the mechanism including neuromuscular junction blocking activity. [7]


No documentation

Side effects

Quinine is known to cause deterioration in patients with myasthenia gravis and erythema multiforme, to stimulate insulin release in patients receiving treatment for falciparum malaria, and to be responsible at times for ataxia following moderate overdose. [8]

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

Quinine, the major alkaloid in Cinchona sp, has been reported to have abortifacient effects in laboratory studies. [9][10]

Interaction & Depletion

Interaction with drug

Isolated constituents from Cinchona sp are reported in laboratory studies to have platelet aggregation inhibiting properties. Use with caution in those individuals with bleeding disorders or on anticoagulant medications. [11]

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation


  1. Staritsky G, Huffnagel E, Dharmadi A, Dalimoenthe SL. Cinchona L. In: de Padua LS, Bunyapraphatsara N, Lemmens RHMJ (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(1): Medicinal and poisonous plants 1. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 1999; p. 198-205.
  2. Karle JM, Karle IL, Gerena L, Milhous WK. Stereochemical evaluation of the relative activities of the cinchona alkaloids against Plasmodium falciparum. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1992;36(7):1538-1544.
  3. Robins RJ, Webb AJ, Rhodes JC, Payne J, Morgan MRA. Radioimmunoassay for the quantitative determination quinine in cultured plant tissues. Planta Med. 1984;50(3):235-238.
  4. Taylor L. The healing power of rainforest herbs: A guide to understanding and using herbal medicinals. New York: Square One Publishers, 2005; p. 402.
  5. Duke JA. Medicinal plants of Latin America. New York: Taylor and Francis, 2009; p. 212.
  6. Knauer A, Sirichaisinthop J, Reinthaler FF, et al. In-vitro response of Plasmodium falciparum to the main alkaloids of cinchona in northwestern Thailand. Wien Klin Wochenschr. 2003;115(3):39-44.
  7. Pinn G. Quinine for cramps. Aust Fam Physician. 1998;27(10):922-923.
  8. Bateman DN, Dyson EH. Quinine toxicity. Adverse drug react acute poisoning rev. 1986;5(4):215-233.
  9. Barnes K, Durrheim D, Blumberg L. Quinine as unofficial contraceptive--concerns about safety and efficacy. S Afr Med J. 1998;88(10):1280-1282.
  10. Nosten F, McGready R, d'Alessandro U, et al. Antimalarial drugs in pregnancy: A review. Curr Drug Saf. 2006;1(1):1-15.
  11. Shah BH, Nawaz Z, Virani SS, et al. The inhibitory effect of cinchonine on human platelet aggregation due to blockade of calcium influx. Biochem Pharmacol. 1998;56(8):955-960.