The action of quinine on the blood itself - quite apart from its action on malarial blood - is of great complexity and importance.
In some of the lower vertebrates quinine reduces the activity of the spinal cord, but in the human species it appears to stimulate the nervous mechanism of the uterus under certain conditions, and it is therefore included under the class of oxytocic or ecbolic drugs.
In 1820 Pelletier and Caventou proved that the cinchonino of Gomez contained two alkaloids, which they named quinine and cinchonine.
The drug is not a true specific, as quinine is for malaria, since it rarely, if ever, prevents the cardiac damage usually done by rheumatic fever; but it entirely removes the agonizing pain, shortly after its administration, and, an hour or two later, brings down the temperature to normal.
He also found that chickens that had been given meal moistened with quinine and placed upon glass slips banded black and yellow, afterwards refused to touch meal moistened with water and spread upon the same slips, although they had previously eaten it with readiness off plain coloured slips.
Until 1867 English manufacturers of quinine were entirely dependent upon South America for their supplies of cinchona bark, which were obtained exclusively from uncultivated trees, growing chiefly in Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador, the principal species which were used for the purpose being Cinchona Calisaya; C. officinalis; C. macrocalyx, var.
The frequent association of heat-stroke with malaria is to be borne in mind in the treatment of heat hyperpyrexia, for, should the temperature of the patient not subside rapidly after treatment with cold sponging in a current of air or cold baths and ice, an intramuscular or intravenous injection of in grains of quinine bihydrochloride should be given without delay.
By adding an alcoholic solution of iodine to a solution of the sulphate in acetic acid a compound known as herapathite, 4Qu 3H 2 SO 4.2HI Ie6H 2 O, is obtained, which possesses optical properties similar to those of tourmaline; it is soluble in Iwo parts of boiling water; and its sparing solubility in cold alcohol has been utilized for estimating quinine quantitatively.
Iron and quinine citrate is used as a bitter stomachic and tonic. In the blood citrates are oxidized into carbonates; they therefore act as remote alkalis, increasing the alkalinity of the blood and thereby the general rate of chemical change within the body (see Acetic Acid).
Maury introduced the cultivation of cinchona in Mexico so that quinine could be produced to fight yellow fever.