Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

    Cinchona officinalis

    Requests: If you need specific information on this remedy - e.g. a proving or a case info on toxicology or whatsoever, please post a message in the Request area so that all users may contribute.

    Cinchone officinalis


    1826, from Sp. quina "cinchona bark" (from which it is extracted), from Quechua (Peru) kina.


    Traditional name

    Other Names:  Quinquina. Cortex Peruvianus. Peruvian Bark. C. officinalis. C. calisaya. C. rubra. C.cinerea. Calisaya bark. Yellow cinchona.
    Common Names:  China.

    Used parts


    N.O. Subclass: Asteridae; Order: Rubiales; Family: Rubiaceae or Madder or Bedstraw family.


    Original proving

    Provings:       China: Allen: Cyclopoedia, V. 3, V. 10. Cyclop. Drug Path., V. 2. Hahnemann: Fragmenta de Viribus. Mat. Med. Pura. Jahr: Symptomen Codex. Macfarlan: High Pot. Provings.
         Buchner: A. H. Z., V. 20, p. 367. Berridge: N. A. J. Hom., V. 21, p. 500.
         Hartmann: Jl. Hom. Arzneimittell, V. 2, pt. 2.
         Jorg: Kritische Heft., 1823, No. 2. Brit. Jl. Hom., V. 24, p. 222.
         Macfarlan: Hom. Phys., V. 12, p. 282; V. 13, p. 291.
         Peschier: Tromsdorf's Jl. Pharmazie, V. 5, pt. 2.
         Piper: A. H. Z., V. 19, p. 202.
         Robinson: Brit. Jl. Hom., V. 25, p. 323.
         - - - - - -: Jl. Soc. Gall., V. 4, pt. 5.
         Finch: Hahn. Mo., V. 23, p. 597.
         Walker: Inaug. Essay. Phila., 1803.
         Woodward: Tr. Am. Inst. Hom., 1881.
         Wibmer: Die Arzneimittel.
    Cinchona officinalis: Hering: Guid. Symp., V. 4. Hahnemann: Fragmenta de viribus.
         Burt: Monograph, St. Louis, 1871.
         Pincke: Hom. Phys., V. 3, p. 44.
         Woodward: U. S. Med. Inves., V. 14, p. 239. (Bradford’s Index).

    Description of the substance

    Botanical Information:  The whole species are either tall shrubs or considerable forest trees, commonly evergreen and of great beauty, both in foliage and in flower. In consequence of the excessive demand for their bark, they seldom attain full growth. Lindley enumerates twenty - six species, of which twenty - one are well known. (Hamilton’s Flora).

    The best bark is produced from trees growing on a dry rocky soil. The bark is collected from May till November, by natives, who are called from this occupation, Cascarilleros. The trees are sometimes cut down for the purpose, but often the bark is stripped from the trees as they stand. The first process is the best, because if the trees are cut down, new shoots speedily spring up, and become in their turn fit for peeling in six or seven years. On stripping the trees, the whole bark, comprising the epidermis, rete - mucosum, cortex, and liber, is removed. The drying is commonly conducted, not in the woods where it is collected, but at the nearest inhabited spot, and great care is observed in the process, as the commercial value of the bark depends upon the brightness of its colour internally, and likewise on the epidermis being uninjured and covered with the lichens which are naturally attached to it. So indiscriminate and reckless was the destruction of this valuable tree, that the Bolivian government found it necessary in 1838 to issue and edict, prohibiting its collection for five years ( Christison. )
         The Bark of the Crown, or Loxa Cinchona, or of the Cinchona flava, or Regia. The three first preparations are made by trituration, or by infusing the powder with twenty parts of alcohol. This latter is not to be recommended. The best Cinchona bark is known by the following properties.
         1. The Crown bark consists entirely of quills, simple or double, straight or nearly so, from six to fifteen inches long, varying in diameter from the size of a crow - quill to that of the thumb, or somewhat larger, and in thickness from the thirtieth to the sixth of an inch. The epidermis is always entire; the external surface is crowded with fine longitudinal furrows, and crossed with transverse fissures; except in the finest quills, it presents various tints of grey, inclining sometimes to liver - brown, and it is generally covered irregularly with minute white lichens, which give it here and there the appearance of silver filigree.
         2. The Yellow bark (Cinchona flava) is composed partly of quills, partly of flat pieces. The quills, called in Peru, Calisaya acolada, are generally from nine to fifteen inches long, from one to two inches in diameter, and from an eighth to a third of an inch in thickness; a few, however, are considerably smaller and thinner, but fine quills are never seen like those which form a considerable proportion of crown bark and grey bark; they are generally single and clothed with epidermis. They are much traversed externally by longitudinal wrinkles and transverse fissures, commencing very rough, and in colour greyish - brown, mottled with large greyish - white patches, from adhering lichens. The inner surface is smooth, longitudinally fibrous, clean, and of a yellower cinnamon - brown than the crown bark. The transverse fracture is close, but fibrous and splintery, and the fibres break under trituration into minute sharp spiculae, which irritate the skin; the taste and odour are as in crown bark, but stronger. The flat pieces, or Calisaya plancha of the Peruvians, sometimes retain their epidermis, but are more commonly striped. Both present all the qualities of the quilled variety, except that the striped pieces have externally the cinnamon - brown colour of their inner surface, and are free of cracks and wrinkles. They are from eight to eighteen inches long, between a line and half an inch in thickness, and from one to four inches in breadth ( Christison, Disp. , p.323). (Hamilton’s Flora).

    This remedy, also designated China, is derived from the bark of the quinaquae tree, whose native habitat is on the eastern slopes of the Andes where it is found growing amongst other forest trees or standing apart in solitary state at altitudes ranging from 3, 000 to 9, 000 feet above sea - level.
         The tree belongs to the Rubiaceae or madder family, which also includes coffea and gardenia. It is tall with an upright bole reaching perhaps to a height of 60 feet. The leaves are of varying size, dark green, leathery, with a very prominent central vein, and lanceolate in shape.
         The slender flower stalks arise in the leaf axilla and bear a cluster of termite cone - shaped blossoms which may be white, pink, lavender or red in colour they possess a somewhat delicate fragrance.
         Just how it was discovered that the bark of this tree possessed antifebrile properties effective against that world - wide scourge, the ague, remains obscure " The bark" as a remedy was introduced into Europe in the seventeenth century by Jesuit priests, whose colleagues were working in South America. It became known as Jesuit Powder or Peruvian Bark, and was prescribed as such or as an ingredient in secret remedies owing to the fact that its use was decried by the pundits at first.
         In 1742 Linnaeus named the tree, botanically, Cinchona, somewhat erroneously as it turns out, for the story that the Countess of Chinchon, wife of a Viceroy of Peru, had been cured of ague by "the bark", which gave rise to the choice of name, has been found by recent research to be apocryphal.
         However, the name was adopted and has been applied to various species of the tree with bark of different colours, pale grey, yellow, red and affording various yields of alkaloids.
         It was not till 1820 that the main alkaloid, quinine, was isolated by the French pharmacists, whereupon the demand for supplies of the bark for the production of quinine sulphate increased by leaps and bounds.
         The fruit of the tree is an ovoid capsule, dark grey in colour, which spurt open from the base to reveal a cluster of winged seeds. In the middle of the nineteenth century an English trader named Ledger was collecting bark arvicufia wool for export. He was living near Lake Titicaca and got wind of a very special "tree", the location of which was a well - kept secret among the Indians. With the connivance of his Indian assistant and good friend he was, however, finally able to get hold of a consignment of seeds from this tree and sent them to his brother in London.
         The British government refused to have anything to do with the seeds and in the course of being traded around a Dutch buyer purchased a pound of the seeds for about $ 20. From this purchase grew the huge plantations of Chinchona ledgeriana in Java, which before the second world war produced some 90 percent of the world's supply of quinine.
         Larynx was blocked with mucus. The remedy may be called for in relation to asthma which recurs in the autumn.
         One author mentions a cold feeling noticed in the belly with each respiration. (Gibson’s Studies of Remedies).

    Habitat:   South America: in the vicinity of Loxa, on the Peruvian frontier of Colombia; Santa Fe de Bogota; from the forests of Huanuco, in Peru, ten degree south of the line; from the neighbourhood of Apolobamba and La Paz, in Bolivia, or Upper Peru, between five and eight degrees still farther south; in the elevated valleys of the Andes, from 1,200 to 10,000 feet above the level of the sea. (Hamilton’s Flora).