Until 2006, the World Health Organization continued to recommend it as a first-line treatment, and to this day, quinine is still used to treat malaria when other drugs have failed or are unavailable. It is a chemical produced only in the bark of the quinine tree (Cinchona ledgeriana).
In contrast with many other medicines initially derived from plants, quinine can be synthesized artificially only at exorbitant costs, and the quinine tree remains the only cost-effective source of the drug to this day.
Quinine is actually a highly versatile drug not limited to treatment of malaria. The indigenous Quechua people of Peru and Bolivia have long ground up the bark of the tree and mixed it into sweetened water to use as a painkiller, muscle relaxant, fever reducer and anti-inflammatory.
Quinine is used in modern medicine as a treatment for chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and lupus.
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