Monday, September 10, 2012

Medical Mondays: Some Tonic Water for your Malaria?

Hi guys!

Today I'm going to talk about quinine.

I've been fascinated by this chemical since reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie. In that book, the whole family is taken down by a bad case of malaria (an infection caused by a mosquito-carrying parasite). If you ever want to know what it feels like to have malaria, check out the book. The description is pretty spot on.

Their infection is eventually cured by quinine, which is described as a bitter, white powder.

Where is it naturally found? Quinine is found in the bark of the Cinchona calisaya tree, which is native to Peru.

Source: Wikipedia
How long has it been used to treat malaria? It was brought from Peru to Rome in the 17th century, and was known for some time as Peruvian Bark. Malaria was a frequent problem in Rome at that time, and after showing its efficacy, was shipped to Europe regularly.

What's it used for now? Nowadays, many types of malaria are resistant to plain quinine. Other forms of quinine are used to treat Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

How can I impress a medical student? Tell them you know what cinchonism is! Cinchonism is caused by an overdose of quinine. Symptoms include ringing ears, flushing and sweating, confusion, dizziness, and nausea and vomiting. Large doses can cause death.

But what about my tonic water! I love my tonic water! And so do I. Tonic water contains small amounts of quinine, which gives it that slight bitter flavor. Drinking normal amounts won't cause cinchonism.

But will it cure my leg cramps? Quinine has been thought to help with leg cramps, but it is no longer FDA approved for this treatment. Sorry!

How can I use quinine in a party trick? Quinine glows under a black light. (It' doesn't glow in the dark, sorry!) Check it out!
Source: Wikipedia
What about my ichy fish? Quinine is often used to treat the parasite ich.

So there you go. Quinine! Party drink! Fish-saver! Malaria killer! And great for party tricks!

If you've got a fictional medical question, let me know! Post below or email me at
  All I ask is that you become a follower and post a link on your blog when I post your answer. This is for fictional scenarios, only. Please check out the boring but necessary disclaimer on my sidebar --> Also, don't forget to stop by Laura Diamond's Mental Health Mondays and Sarah Fine's The Strangest Situation for great psychiatric and psychological viewpoints on all things literary. :)

Oh! One last quick note. Please stop by Literary Rambles today. Matthew McNish's (of QQQE fame) daughter Mady is being interviewed for Ask The Expert. Please show your support! Thank you! 

I lied! Another quick note. Sheri Larsen snagged an agent, yay! She's having HUMONGOUS giveaway (and I'm donating a sterling silver and onyx necklace to celebrate!) Please check it out at her blog! 

45 comments:

Lorelei said...

Fascinating, Lydia, my brother used to drink tonic water quite a bit. I've used it when I had the flu bug and it seemed to help. Now I know that I can fascinate people with the black light trick I might be the hit of the party! (^;

Shelley Munro said...

I've had the misfortune to get malaria, and I've never felt so sick in all my life. Spent a few days in a Delhi hospital. We used to joke about drinking gin and tonics to avoid malaria. I've never liked them :)

Cool party trick. Need to rember this one.

Shelly said...

Little House on the Prairie is where I first learned about quinine, too. Very interesting facts. I haven't seen malaria in anyone I know, but we are plenty busy trying to avoid another mosquito borne disease down here: West Nile.

Natalie Aguirre said...

So funny that it glows in the dark. Thanks for sharing all the tidbits about it.

Laura Pauling said...

Very cool! I love hearing about the remedies for diseases esp. where they originated. :)

Old Kitty said...

Quinine with gin is lovely! :-)

Take care
x

SA Larsenッ said...

Whoa...I actually remember that on Little House on the Prairie. Geez, talk about a time warp.

I did not know that it was used for Lupus and RA patients. Interesting.

Connie Keller said...

I love the tonic water trick! Very cool.

I have several friends who've had malaria when they lived in Africa. What a nasty disease! One friend was a doctor. He was out in the bush (he'd been out treating people) when his malaria got really bad on and knew he was to lose consciousness, so he hooked himself up to an IV (I guess with quinine) and prayed for the best. Thankfully, he survived.

Susan Fields said...

My mom always used to drink tonic water when I was a kid, and I always wondered why it said "contains quinine" on the label, like what was so special about quinine that it had to be mentioned on the label. I didn't realize you could overdose on it, so now that makes sense!

Clarissa Draper said...

I think I'm going to take up drinking Gin and Tonic now.

Karen Lange said...

I did not know this! Thanks for the info. I do recall the Little House book that talked about it. I was glad they recovered. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm going to get a bottle of Canada Dry just to see it glow!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I love your blog!!! I can add all this to my wealth of useless information that makes me a kick butt trivia player!!

Lydia Kang said...

It only glows under a BLACK LIGHT! Now everyone is going to think it glows in the dark. You need a black light wand! Which I don't have, but may need to get now.

*headdesk*

L.C. Frost said...

I can't be the only one imagining how to work the party trick into their next get-together without it seeming too premeditated. :-)

Southpaw said...

Ooo, cool stuff.I love the party trick too.

Barbara Watson said...

I'd forgotten about that part of Little House on the Prairie (which I didn't read until I was adult)! I love the party trick.

Linda Gray said...

Quinine is fascinating. I remember that the professor in a college health class told us that drinking too much tonic water was responsible for misdiagnoses of syphilis in Korean War soldiers. I've never heard that corroborated since. Does that sound possible? I didn't know about cinchonism, though. Really interesting!

Maurice Mitchell said...

Fascinating. Cinchonism sounds like a perfect disease for House...if it were still on. Thanks for the party trick Lydia!

Janet Johnson said...

Cinchonism! THAT'S what I had last week! ;) Okay, no (just all those same symptoms :P) . . . but I will see if I can impress my husband with my new knowledge. I always love these posts!

Jen Chandler said...

Very interesting! I remember watching a Murder, She Wrote episode where a murder victim was killed because he was allergic to quinine. I never really knew what is was until now! And, of course, I'm going to have to try out the black light trick next time I pick up a bottle of tonic water!

Cheers,
Jen

Jai Joshi said...

So cool! I've been fascinated by quinine too, since I learned about how the British in India used to take their quinine with water and gin. And that's how the gin and tonic drink came to be! Cause it was their malaria tonic.

Jai

Krispy said...

Wow, interesting! I'm going to have to try that party trick out now, haha.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Well, I definitely have to try the black light on a gin and tonic now!

mooderino said...

Everything we come up with to fight bugs only seems to make them stronger in the long run. My point is we're doomed!

mood
Moody Writing

Saumya said...

WOW!! We just studied malaria last week :) Plasmodium vivax, ovale, falciporum, haha. I learned more from your post than the Cecil textbook, Lydia!

Jenny Woolf said...

Even so, I can never manage to get tonic water down me. But perhaps that is why it was supposed to give you a tonic, by chasing off any stray Malaria bugs that might have been lurking.

Catherine Stine said...

I happen to HATE the teste of quinine, but if I ever come down with malaria...
I knew someone who caught it when in Africa and it's no joke. Malaria weakens the heart.

JEFritz said...

This is such a cool post. I never knew there was some quinine in tonic water (probably because I never drink the stuff). I'll have to remember this in case I ever decide to write about malaria.

The Golden Eagle said...

I've heard of quinine, but I never remembered it was used in the Little House books. I didn't know it glowed in the dark, either! That's pretty cool.

Meredith said...

I always love a good party trick. :) Great post!

Christina Farley said...

i love the Little House books. So interesting. There is a lot of home remedies and recipes that are almost a lost art.

Lynda R Young said...

lol, that's such a cool trick!
Yay for Sheri!

Madeleine Sara said...

Fascinating. I was getting terrible foot cramps and then discovered my feet had become half a size bigger as I've got older and my shoes were too small!

james atel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Coleen Patrick said...

I wondered about that stuff. The word alone--quinine, immediately brings to mind people in hazard suits. Thanks for shedding (a glow) light on this subject :)

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I love the black light trick. I will impress my friends at parties now!

I have most of the symptoms of cinchonism when I think of Olivia Wilde. I'll just tell my friends I've had too much tonic water now! :-)

Always fun to visit your blog, Roland

Lenny Lee* said...

hi miss lydia! wow! you got sooo much good information that you share out. i didnt ever even hear of quinine before. now im way smarter for coming at your blog. :)
i already did a comment on madis interview at miss natalies blog and i did a post for miss sheri & im donating a prize too. hooray for miss sheri!! hooray for quinine!! ha ha

...hugs from lenny

Rachna Chhabria said...

Thanks for the info. Though I have heard about quinine, I did not know much about it.

LTM said...

Wow! I didn't know tonic water glowed under black light. Kewl. You know what I always wonder? Who figures these things out and how? Like who discovered quinine bark cured malaria? I like to imagine how that might've gone down... LOL!

Anyway, super interesting as always, Dr. K! :o) <3

Heather said...

Hmm, not sure I'd want to drink it unless I had to. I'm not keen on my drinks glowing, even if it's just under a black light. ;) Cool facts though!

Carrie Butler said...

Wow! That's so cool. I love the image. :D Thanks for sharing, Lydia!

Kelly Polark said...

I love learning things on your blog.

I have never acquired the taste for tonic water. Or gin for that matter!

nutschell said...

ooh! Perfect post. I was wondering what quinine once, since I first read the term in a historical mystery novel I just finished :)

Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

SANTIAGO said...

Cool blog... now to dig out that pesky black light in my closet!

 
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