In the 16th century, when the Spanish colonialists poured into the countries of South America in search of easy money, they unexpectedly met with a merciless and deadly enemy. It was malaria, a severe and debilitating swamp fever common in humid southern countries.
Thousands of people died from her. The best doctors to whom they turned for help turned out to be powerless against this serious ailment. However, it was known that local Indian healers successfully treat those who fell ill with the bark of some tree unfamiliar to Europeans.
For a very long time, the miracle cure remained unknown to the Europeans. But in 1638, the wife of the Viceroy of Peru, the Countess of Tsinghona, was cured of malaria by the bark of this tree. In honor of the woman who was healed of malaria, the tree was named "chinhona" or "china", and the organic substance obtained from its bark that kills the plasmodium of malaria is called quinine. Having studied the structure of the molecule of this substance, chemists later replaced it with an artificial drug - an active antimalarial agent.