| Home | | Pharmacognosy |

Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Alkaloids

Cinchona is the dried bark of the stem or of the root of Cinchona calisaya Wedd., Cinchona ledgeriana Moens., Cinchona officinalis Linn., and Cinchona succirubra Pavon., or hybrids of any of the first two species with any of the last two species, belonging to family Rubiaceae.






Cortex Cinchonae, Countess, Peruvian or Jesuit’s bark, Cinchona


Biological Source


Cinchona is the dried bark of the stem or of the root of Cinchona calisaya Wedd., Cinchona ledgeriana Moens., Cinchona officinalis Linn., and Cinchona succirubra Pavon., or hybrids of any of the first two species with any of the last two species, belonging to family Rubiaceae.


Geographical Source


Tropical valleys of the Andes. Bolivia and Southern Peru. Cinchona is a native of South America, occurring wild there. At present, it is mainly cultivated in Indonesia (Java), Zaire, India, Guatemala, Bolivia, Ceylon etc.




The use of cinchona as an antimalarial is reported in 1638, when the wife of Spanish governor was cured by it. Later on the Spanish missionaries passed on the trade of cinchona bark for approximately 200 years.


In 1736 the French botanist for the first time collected a bark from the tree, eventually the demand for the tree was increased and the barks were collected by felling method. Due to the increased demand for the tree, its cultivation was tried in various parts of the world like Europe, Java, India, etc. the cultivation in Europe was totally unsuccessful while the cultivation those species grown in India (C. succirubra) and in Java (C. ledgeriona) were very successful. Today India exports cinchona for more than one crore.


Cultivation and Collection


Cinchona is propogated by seed sowing method. The seeds with approximately 3 mm long and flat are picked and are used for cultivation. The seeds are sown in boxes and the seedlings are transplanted to nurseries when they reach a height of 5 cm, the nurseries are covered by a roof so as to protect the seedlings from direct sunlight. The seedlings grown in shade till they attain a height of about 25 cm and in between this period they are at least transplanted twice. Cinchona grows well at an altitude of 1,500–2,000 m above sea level, temperature ranging from 10°C to 30°C and an annual rainfall of 200–400 cm. When the plants are about 1.5 years old they are transplanted to open space at a distance of 1 m into well drained, rich and porous soil.


The plant is allowed to grow till six years and then the first crop is collected by coppicing, uprooting or by felling method. The bark is collected till the plant is 9 years old because the alkaloid content in the bark decreases thereafter. Rainy season is considered suitable for the collection of the bark. The trunks and the branches are beaten to loose the periderm and the bark is removed into small pieces of 45 cm long and 12 cm in width. They are then dried under sun or by artificial heating by providing gentle heat. During drying the barks attain quill shape and the colour changes to red or brownish red.





                                  Twig and bark of Cinchona ledgeriana

Microscopic Characters


Transverse section of bark shows cork composed of uniformly arranged several layers of thin-walled cells, containing amorphous reddish-brown matter. Below cork is a redion of cortex, composed of tangentially elongated parenchymatous cells with red-brown and thin walls, containing small starch grains. Idioblasts, containing micro-crystals of calcium oxalate (2–6 μ long), and secretion cells are scattered in the cortex. Phloem consists of compressed and collapsed sieve tubes, phloem parenchyma similar to cortex, and irregularly arranged, large spindle-shaped lignified fibres. Medullary rays are narrow, two to three cells wide and almost straight. Longitudinal section of bark shows brick-shaped cells of medullary rays, longitudinally elongated cells of phloem parenchyma, and fibres with conspicuous pits.


                               Transverse section of Cinchona bark

Chemical Constituents


More than 30 alkaloids have been reported in cinchona. The chiefly identified alkaloids are quinidine, quinine, cinchonine and cinchonidine. These constituents are the stereoisomers of each other like quinine is stereoisomer of quinidine and cinchonine is stereoisomer of cinchonidine. The other constituents available are quiniarnine, cinchotine, hydroquinine, hydrocinchonidine, cinchotannic acid, etc. Quinine and quinidine has a methoxy group in it but cinchonine and cinchonidine do not have a methoxy group. Other than these it also consist of bitter glycoside, starch grains, calcium oxalate crystals and crystalline acid like quinic acid.



Chemical Test

1) Thalleioquin test: To the extract of cinchona powder add one drop of dilute sulphuric acid and 1 ml of water. Add bromine water drop wise till the solution acquires per-manent yellow colour and add 1 ml of dilute ammonia solution, emerald green colour is produced.

2) The powdered drug when heated with glacial acetic acid in dry test tube, evolves red fumes, which con-dense in the top portion of the tube.

3) Cinchona bark, when moistened with sulphuric acid and observed under ultraviolet light shows a blue fluorescence due to the methoxy group of Quinine and quinidine.



It is mainly employed as antimalarial drug, but it is also used as analgesic, antipyretic, protoplasmic, bitter stomachic and tonic. Quinidine is cardiac depressant and Cinchonidine is used in rheumatism and neuralgia.




Cuprea Bark (Remijia pedupiculato); Family: Rubiaceae, it differs in its morphological character with cinchona but consist of constituents like Quinine, quinidine, cinchonine, cinchonamine, etc., the other species of Remijia, that is, R. purdieana (false Cuprea bark) does not contain quinine.


Marketed Products


It is one of the ingredients of the preparations known as Herbipyrin tablet, M.P. 6 Capsules (Vasu Healthcare).


Contact Us, Privacy Policy, Terms and Compliant, DMCA Policy and Compliant

TH 2019 - 2024; Developed by Therithal info.