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March 2, 2021
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Cinchona (Quinine) has more than 20 species and is today the national tree of Peru and Ecuador. Its original claim to fame was in the effectiveness of its bark in treating malaria.

South America did not have the more virulent strain of malaria (P. falciparum) until Spanish colonists and Jesuit missionaries arrived in Peru in the 17th century. Historians believe the Cinchona was an indigenous Quechua medicine used to treat fever, which led Europeans to try using it to treat malaria. It proved extremely effective, although it was met with skepticism from Protestants due to its connection to Spain and Catholicism.

The name quinine came from the Quechua language, “quina-quina” or “the bark of all barks”.