It is the synthetic form of the most wonderful drug used for malaria.
It was in history that the quinine was a panacea for all illness.
The extracts from the bark of cinchona tree became most wanted drug to treat the killer disease malaria.
Many elderly people remember the bitter liquid quinine popularly known as ‘koyinan vellam’ bought from the medical outlets throughout Kerala.
Even after the eradication of dreaded disease, the quinine widely used for treatment like fever and related ailments.
Side effects like irregular heartbeat, loss of hearing and other illnesses were reported, led the way for an alternate better pill.
Quinine was prepared by extracting the bark of cinchona which was cultivated by the British in India in the Nilgiris and Darjeeling hills.
In Kerala it was cultivated in tea and coffee plantations in Munnar hills also.
At present only in Darjeeling, Cinchona Plantations exist and produces nearly 200 tons of cinchona barks annually.
Here the Plantation was established in 1862 and now it was demanded to assign world Heritage status as it is older than the World Heritage Darjeeling Train.
In Meghalaya there is a village, Quinine Nongladew named after the herbal tree quinine where cinchona was planted . It is learnt that a cinchona nursery was started in 1974 by the Britishto start plantation to combat malaria and other related diseases. The village is 70 kilometers away from Guwahati on the highway to Shillong.
In 1994 US Government banned the quinine except for the use of malaria.
But it is only incidental that US President Donald Trump has to import the synthetic drug Hydroxychloroquine from India to treat the pandemic Covid-19.