History

 

We cross several oceans and see in the year 1630 a fever-stricken native of Peru, who is struggling to drag himself to a lake in the jungle of the mountains of this South American state. This native does what anyone would do, who feels feverish. He drinks to quench his terrible thirst, caused by his prolonged fever. He drinks and falls asleep at the side of the lake. He wakes up feeling refreshed. He drinks again of the salvific water and does not notice the bitter taste. He spends some time at the mountain lake and makes use of the products that a South American forest yields in large quantities and keeps on drinking. After some days he travels to the capital of the district, Puno, where he spreads the glad tidings of the miraculous lake in the mountains which managed to heal his raging malaria fevers.

It happened that at that time the regent of Loxa, Don Juan Lopez de Canizares, was himself ill with fevers and in the town. He sends his doctor to the pond. A few days later his personal physician came back with the bitter water. He also brought large quantities of the bark from a tree, which had fallen into the lake. This tree caused the bitter taste of the water. The regent recovered and took the news to the physician of the Countess Del Cinchon, wife of the viceroy of Peru, who immediately understood the great importance of the discovery.

She managed to gather large quantities of this “miracle bark” with the help of her husband. The Latin name Cinchona was derived from the name of this Lady. The Latin name of the quinine tree is thus Cinchona. This takes us back to the dark past and provides us with romantic memories of the origin of this blessed drug.
(From Lineus) The bark of quinine, in the form of a powder, has also had the name: “Polvo de la Condesa” – The powder of the Countess. It also has been called the Jesuit’s Bark or Jesuit’s Powder after the priest who enthusiastically promoted the powder. Around 1640, the first Peruvian bark was introduced to Spain by several excellent doctors, including Herman Boerhaave and the Englishman Sydenham. The drug was successfully tested and then prescribed. Old prescriptions confirm its use as early as the 17th and 18th century.

The cost of the drug was a major drawback. This made it impossible for humanity to make proper use of the drug. The uncontrolled conditions in the South American republics made the regular supply of barks very problematic. The “miracle” discovery had been in the forests of Bolivia and Chile. The tampering with mixes and impurities had a bad impact on the reputation of the product. And so this product was nearly lost for humanity. However, two famous French chemists Pelletier and Caventou were interested in the bark in 1820. Science had moved forward and it had become possible to isolate the ingredients of the bark.
These gentlemen isolated from the bark a certain alkaloid, and called it quinine. This was the important agent. They also isolated from the bark several worthless products: quinidine, cinchinine and cinchonidine. These make up approximately 94% of the bark. This process made it possible to start weighing the drug properly, test its efficacy and begin to prescribe it in clinics. Still, there were enormous challenges with developing a regular supply. The bark had to be pulled from trees in the darkest corners of the jungles in Latin America by cascarillos. These took the bark from the trees without replacing them, forcing them to always further and further into the forest.

European governments were concerned with malaria-infected areas in their own countries and in their colonies. We are thinking for example about the extremely unhealthy conditions in North Holland, just north of Amsterdam. These governments looked for resources to seed and plant trees to provide the much coveted Cinchona. When the price of a kilogram of quinine in Florida rose to Fl1350, – in the year 1824 the English, French and Dutch governments decided to do whatever it would take to develop quinine on their own territories.

He worked on this enterprise until the year 1925. Then the possibility was opened to start work as a development employee on a new forest on the Pengalenganse plateau.