QUININE: An Insight Into The Miraculous Drug
Quinine (also popularly known as quinine sulphate) generally refers to an alkaloid compound which may be extracted from Cinchona bark. Its clinical relevance can be traced primarily to its use in the treatment of Plasmodium falciparum- induced malaria; a potentially life-threatening infectious disease characterised by feverish attacks, often endemic in tropical and subtropical areas. It may also be used to treat nocturnual leg syndrome in small doses. In pharmacotherapy, it can be administered by mouth or intravenously.
The mechanism of action of quinine is not fully understood. It is thought, principally based on studies on related compound chloroquine, to be toxic to Plasmodium falciparum by disrupting the ability of the microorganism to effectively metabolise haemoglobin. This is believed to bring about relief of malarious signs and symptoms including red blood cell depletion (anaemia), sweating, fever and intermittent shivering.
While therapeutically beneficial, overdosage on quinines may cause serious poisoning; typical manifestations include fever, vomiting, headache, ringing in the ear, problems with sight amongst others (this may be reversed with the use of diuretics to increase elimination from the body).
The ability of quinine, in its natural and synthetic forms, to potentially alleviate malarious signs and symptoms makes it one of the most therapeutically significant drugs out there.