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Strip of rolled cinchona bark, India, 1860-1910

Strip of rolled cinchona bark, India, 1860-1910

Credits: Science Museum

From 1862, the British Government of India set up cinchona plantations and factories to cultivate large amounts of cinchona bark for its malaria treating quinine. This specimen is from a plantation in Darjeeling. There are many types of cinchona bark. This is type is called Cinchona Calaysia. The sample was originally at the Royal Botanic Gardens India Museums at Kew, England. The museum was founded by the East India Company in 1801 and closed in 1879. The sample was also exhibited at the Cinchona Tercentenary Exhibition by the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine in 1930.

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    Glossary: sample

    Individual units, segments, or small quantities taken as evidence of the quality or character of the entire group or lot

    Glossary: pharmacy

    The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.

    Glossary: malaria

    Parasitic disease transmitted by certain kinds of mosquito. Malaria is characterized by fever and enlargement of the spleen. Each year, there are approximately 515 million cases of malaria, killing between one and three million people.

    Glossary: quinine

    A substance taken to fight malaria. Quinine is found naturally in the bark of the cinchona tree. It is also an ingredient in tonic water.

    Glossary: cinchona

    The dried bark of any of the Cinchona trees. Used to stimulate the appetite, prevent bleeding and, in the past, to treat malaria.