quinineˈkwaɪ naɪn, ˈkwɪn aɪn; esp. Brit. kwɪˈnin
a bitter alkaloid extracted from chinchona bark; used in malaria therapy
A bitter colourless powder, an alkaloid derived from cinchona bark, used to treat malaria and as an ingredient of tonic water.
Quinine is a natural white crystalline alkaloid having antipyretic, antimalarial, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties and a bitter taste. It is a stereoisomer of quinidine which, unlike quinine, is an antiarrhythmic. Quinine contains two major fused-ring systems: the aromatic quinoline and the bicyclic quinuclidine. Though it has been synthesized in the laboratory, quinine occurs naturally in the bark of the cinchona tree. The medicinal properties of the cinchona tree were originally discovered by the Quechua, who are indigenous to Peru and Bolivia; later, the Jesuits were the first to bring cinchona to Europe. Quinine was the first effective treatment for malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum, appearing in therapeutics in the 17th century. It remained the antimalarial drug of choice until the 1940s, when other drugs such as chloroquine that have fewer unpleasant side effects replaced it. Since then, many effective antimalarials have been introduced, although quinine is still used to treat the disease in certain critical circumstances, such as severe malaria, and in impoverished regions due to its low cost. Quinine is available with a prescription in the United States and over-the-counter, in minute quantities, in tonic water. Quinine is also used to treat lupus and arthritis. Quinine was also frequently prescribed in the US as an off-label treatment for nocturnal leg cramps, but this has become less prevalent due to a Food and Drug Administration statement warning against the practice.
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