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Quinine and Gin and Tonics

Mark Siddall mes at zoo.toronto.edu
Wed Aug 3 22:42:57 EST 1994

In article <ccerveny-030894150902 at pigpen.radonc.washington.edu> ccerveny at u.washington.edu (Chuck Cerveny) writes:
>This question has been burning in my mind for quite awhile now.  Didn't
>quinine used to be used to treat malaria?  And if so why is it now in tonic
>water?  Does this mean that if I contract a scorching case of malaria I can
>sit down with a jug of Tanqueray and bottle of tonic water and cure myself?
> Or is this idea a bit far fetched.  Thanks in advance.

Yes quinine was used to treat malaria and in fact is still being used 
in many areas where strains resistent to chloroquine, primaquine, 
and mefloquine have surfaced.  It appears that quinine-resistance
is not a major problem (though the drug can be).

As for its presence in tonic water, of course!  Look up the word
"tonic" in any dictionary and all makes sense.  A tonic being any
Imagine yourself, a dedicated British colonialist in the depths of
Africa, or in S.E. Asian colonies in the late 19th or early 20th 
century.  You're surrounded by malaria and so you have to take
your quinine.  But the stuff is bitter awful tasting medicine.  In true 
British style, why not mix whith a bit of sweetened soda water to 
dilute the taste and make it more palatable.  In fact, in truer 
british style, hell, throw in a shot of gin!  That'll do the trick!

I don't know if tonic water in its present formulation has enough
quinine in it to be much of a tonic against malaria.  I suspect in its
original applicaiton there was more.  Mind you if you drank 5 or 6
glasses of tonic water every day you might be able to bring your 
circulating levels up to par.  If you drank the equivalent in gin and tonics, 
even if it didn't prevent malaria, you could acheive a state of inebriated 
bliss where you might not care :-).

Still, I think the amount today is less.  The stuff can be pretty toxic
with extended high-dose usage.  Little things like blindness and liver
damage if memory serves.

G&T has allways been a fav of mine.  After becoming a parasitologist
working on related blood parasites (albeit of turtles and fishes) I
enjoyed them even more!  (That is more in termes of qualitative value
not neceessarily in terms of more in quantity).


>Chuck Cerveny
>ccerveny at u.washington.edu
>"Good times and riches and son of a bitches, I've seen more than I can
>recall"  J. Buffett

Mark E. Siddall                "I don't mind a parasite...
mes at vims.edu                    I object to a cut-rate one" 
Virginia Inst. Marine Sci.                     - Rick
Gloucester Point, VA, 23062

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