We cross a few oceans in thought and see in the year 1630 a native of Peru, stricken with fever, dragging himself with difficulty to a lake in the jungle of the mountain region of this South American state.

This native did what anyone who feels feverish would do. He tries to drink and quench the terrible thirst that results from prolonged high temperatures. He drank and fell asleep by the side of the lake, awoke feeling refreshed.

He drank again of the salvific water and noticed the bitter taste, but did not count it. He stayed for some time at the mountain lake, provided his basic necessities with the products that a South American primeval forest produces in large quantities and drank, drank and drank.

After a few days he hastened to the capital of the district, Puno, where he spread the good news that there was a miracle lake in the mountains, the water of which was able to subdue the raging malarial fevers.

It wanted the Corregidor of Loxa: Don Juan Lopez de Canizares, to lie down himself, tormented by fevers. He sent his doctor to the lake. Some time later his personal physician returned, not only with the bitter water, but also with large quantities of bark from a tree that had fallen into the lake, which had apparently added the bitter taste to the water.

The Corregidor also recovered and rushed to the personal physician of the Countess del Cinchon, wife of the Viceroy of Peru, who immediately recognized the great importance of this discovery. And supported by her husband, she did everything she could to collect large quantities of the “miracle bark” as quickly as possible. The Latin name of the cinchona tree owes its name to this woman. We know the cinchona tree as CINCHONA, the name which harkens back to the distant past and preserves our memory of the romantic origins of this very beneficial medicine. (From Lineus)

The cinchona bark in ground form has long been called: Polvo de la Condesa: Countesses' powder, or, after the zealous distributors of this, the Jesuit Fathers: Fathers' powder or Jesuit powder.

The first cinchona bark was imported into Spain around 1640 and, after extensive experiments, was received and prescribed with great approval by the great physicians of the day, including Herman Boerhave and the Englishman Sydenham. Old recipes that have been preserved confirm its use as far back as the 17th and 18th centuries.

But…. there was a major drawback, in particular the very high price of this wonderful medicine, which made it impossible to make proper use of it for humanity. The unruly conditions in the South American republics – the “miracle tree” had now also been discovered in the primeval forests of Bolivia and Chile – made the regular supply of bark very problematic. Tampering with mixtures and impurities detracted from the good name of the product. And so this virtually irreplaceable medicine would almost be lost to humanity.

In 1820, however, new interest was aroused in cinchona bark by Messrs. Pelletier and Caventou. Renowned chemists from France. The sciences had made progress and it had become possible to isolate the active ingredients from the bark. It turned out to these gentlemen that a certain alkaloid, which they called QUININE, was the most important antipyretic agent.

They were able to isolate this from the bark, in addition to QUINIDINE, CINCHININE and CINCHONIDINE and in addition to the normal filling of a bark, which was approximately 94% and was completely worthless. It was then possible to dose the medicine properly, to weigh it, and to thoroughly test its effectiveness against the cases that occurred in the clinics. But even then, the issue of regular bark supply first became really urgent, especially as it turned out that the bark growers in South America, the so-called cascarillos, had committed heavy exploitation and had never tried to grow the cinchona tree, so that they were forced to to travel further and further into the jungle to obtain the much coveted bark.

The European governments with large areas infected with malaria, either in their own countries - - we are thinking of the very unhealthy conditions in North Holland, just north of Amsterdam, or in their former colonies - - looked for means to acquire seeds and to provide plant material for the highly coveted Cinchona. When the price of a kilogram of quinine rose to FL 1350 in the year 1824 (and that was still Guilders!), the English, French and Dutch governments decided to do everything in their power to establish quinine on their OWN TERRITORY. -to provide plantations.