Cinchona: the miraculous tree of Peru

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Emblem of Peru, cinchona is a tree with recognized medicinal properties. With its gnarled branches and red bark, it displays a branched silhouette. Its bark is used in particular to fight against malaria!

Discover the many benefits of cinchona: a miraculous tree.

  • To discover: Maca from Peru , fortifier of the Incas

Recognize cinchona

When we use the word cinchona, we are talking about the tree or its bark. Cinchona officinalis is a large shrub measuring up to 6m in height. Other species of cinchona form trees that culminate at 20-30m. Peru gathers 20 of the 29 species present in the world. Belonging to the Rubiaceae family, it reveals a red-brown bark . Its foliage is oval, glazed, ribbed and dark green. It is enhanced by tubular flowers in pink or white clusters, appearing in late spring. Later in the year, small, capsule-shaped fruits appear.

Therapeutic properties of cinchona

This tree contains powerful active ingredients including tannins and quinine. The latter is known for its antimalarial and analgesic properties. It is the bark of the tree that is used! Reduced to powder, it was used to reduce fever by the Indians. In the 17th century, it was brought to Rome by Peruvian Jesuits and was used to treat malaria The quinine present in the bark of the tree is still used in treatments that fight against serious forms of malaria. This plant with a thousand virtues also helps to treat various everyday ailments.

  • Antiseptic and healing , cinchona is granted to heal wounds.
  • Tonic, it strengthens the immune system .
  • Stimulates the appetite, it is an aid for people with anorexia.
  • Diuretic , it promotes the elimination of toxins.
  • Anti-inflammatory, it fights against pain and fever.
  • Fortifying and stimulating for the scalp, it is also used in shampoo.

How to consume cinchona?

  • In infusion: it is used to stimulate the appetite and smoothen the digestion. You can easily find cinchona herbal teas in herbalism.
  • In powder: it is applied directly to wounds.
  • In decoction: bring 1L of water to a boil and add 20g of dried bark. Leave to infuse for fifteen minutes and filter. The decoction makes it possible to take advantage of the anti- flu , tonic and analgesic benefits of the plant.
  • Mixed with henna: cinchona fights against hair loss and itchy hair. It gives reddish-brown highlights to dark hair.
  • In wine: to combine business with pleasure by taking advantage of the benefits of this tree. To the red wine we add a maceration of bark as well as spices such as cocoa and vanilla.

Precautions and contraindications

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid the consumption of cinchona. The same goes for people taking blood thinners and those with alkaloid intolerance. Some people are allergic to quinine. It is then necessary to avoid ingesting or applying cinchona, at the risk of causing allergic skin reactions, bleeding from the nose, dizziness or stomach disorders.

A plant in danger

Cinchona is still used to fight the scourge of malaria. In the 1940s, cinchona was decimated to treat European populations suffering from this disease. Today, deforestation in Peru is the new threat to this benefactor tree. In the search for a treatment for COVID-19, scientists have turned to chloroquine, rather than quinine. This less toxic substance was chosen because it is not threatened with extinction.

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