PERUVIAN BARK, Cinchona calisays

There is a story about an Indian who lived in Peru a long time ago. He got malaria fever really bad. The village elders were worried that he would infect the whole village. They carried him out in the jungle, away from the village. They told him of he loved his family, he should go as far from the village as he could to die.

His fever was very high and he was thirsty. He walked as far as he could and then he crawled. He was delirious and dying from thirst. He came to a small pond where a tree had blown over into the water. He scooped up a handful of water, but it was bitter. He was so thirsty that he didn’t care about the water being bitter. He drank and drank, and then he lay down and went to sleep. When he awoke, he drank more water then went back to sleep. The tree that had fallen into the pond had made a huge cup of herb tea for him. After drinking much of this water, his fever left him and he felt better. He took branches from the tree and went back to the village.

Everyone was surprised to see him well and healthy. He told them about the healing water. They took the branches and made up some tea for all the others who were sick and they got well. Everyone in the village honored him.

In time the Spanish Jesuit priests learned of the tree the natives called the fever tree. They witnessed its great healing power. They took some bark and powdered bark back to Europe and called it “Jesuit bark.” When some doctors in Europe found it would cure malaria fever, the bark was in great demand. Many trees were cut down and stripped. They sent tons of the bark to Europe and many people cured of malaria and other diseases. However, the doctors of some countries refused to use this new herbal medicine called “Jesuit bark” or “Jesuit powdered.” They hated the Jesuits, and would not let the bark enter their country.

Many people died needlessly from the lack of the fever tree bark. The Countess of Chinchon was a very popular lady throughout Europe. She promoted fever tree bark. The people renamed the bark “Cinchona bark,” after the Countess of Chinchon. Everyone in Europe used the bark and to this day, we know the bark as cinchona bark.

The Peruvian bark, or cinchona tree, is an evergreen tree that grows from thirty to sixty feet tall with bright green ovate leaves. The flowers are deep red and have a tube-shaped corolla with five petals. They cluster on panicles and are very fragrant. Originally, they grew high on the eastern slopes of the Andes in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela. A few hundred years ago, the demand for the bark was so great that the trees became scarce. The cinchona needs a lot of moisture, high altitudes, cool nights and has to be close to the equator. In the late 1700s, cinchona trees were planted in India, Ceylon, Africa, Indonesia and Java.

In 1820, two Frenchman isolated the alkaloid quinine. In very small amounts, quinine will help malaria fever. However, in larger amounts quinine can cause deafness, blindness and even death. Why use a drug that is so dangerous, when you can use the plain herb that will do the same good with no dangerous side effects and after effects?

Peruvian bark, or cinchona, is good for many things besides malaria. It is a tonic that will tone up the body. It is a nervine that will feed, build and soothe the cerebral, spinal, sympathetic and even the peripheral nerves. Cinchona is good for the heart to make a stronger action. It is an antiseptic that will fight infection. It will help the stomach and aid digestion.

Some people ask, “Why should a wonderful herb only be found in such far off places?” Many attributes found in cinchona bark, especially for malaria fever, are also found in white poplar bark, or quaking aspen.

The Lord provides. Use it wisely.

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