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Potential Dangers of Homemade Tonic Water

UntitledCoronavirus update March 28, 2020: Many people are coming to this page seeking advice on using cinchona bark to make their own medicine. 

You are not qualified to make your own medicine. The bark available for purchase online is not labelled as to its potency. And if you read the article below or this one, you'll also find that an overdose of cinchona bark can be dangerous or fatal. 


More information about the safety of cinchona bark/homemade tonic can be found here at



A few weeks ago, Avery and Janet Glasser drank some homemade tonic syrup in a Gin and Tonic at a bar and came down with the symptons of cinchonism, a condition caused by a buildup of quinine.

Tonic water contains quinine as its active, bittering ingredient. Quinine comes from cinchona tree bark. Homemade tonic waters begin with this tree bark either in chunk or powdered form. The powdered form is particularly hard to strain out of the final beverage, and this could lead to an accidental overdose.

The symptons of cinchonism (from wikipedia):

Symptoms of mild cinchonism (which may occur from standard therapeutic doses of quinine) include flushed and sweaty skin, ringing of the ears (tinnitus), blurred vision, impaired hearing, confusion, reversible high-frequency hearing loss, headache, abdominal pain, rashes, drug-induced lichenoid reaction (lichenoid photosensitivity),[1] vertigo, dizziness, dysphoria, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

A scientific paper published in 2007 reported a case of a patient self-medicating for leg cramps with quinine and it turns out he gave himself cinchonism. His systems were intermittent fevers, chills, and tremors for approximately 12 days; general malaise that would begin with a bitter taste in his mouth that wouldn't go away. (On PubMed the article is at  PMID: 18004031)

BS1-300x150Glasser wrote about his incident on his Facebook page, and I asked if I could reprint it. The Glassers are the founders of Bittermens, makers of bitters, spirits, liqueurs, and other products. Thus they are very familiar with quinine. He wrote:

How did it happen? Well, we work with cinchona all of the time, which means that our bodies already have a small buildup of quinine. During Tales of the Cocktail, we had a gin and tonic at a restaurant where they made their own tonic syrup. By the amount of the suspended cinchona dust floating in the drink and the distinctive earthy tannins that mark incomplete filtration, we should have stopped drinking it at the first sip. But we didn't, and spent the next two days dealing with the very uncomfortable symptoms of cinchonism. 

Safe Amounts of Quinine in Tonic Water

The below information all comes from Avery Glasser. 

There's a federal standard for the use of quinine in carbonated beverages, specifically that it cannot exceed 83 parts per million in the final tonic water (21 CFR 172.575). Now, if you're working with commercial quinine sulphate or quinine hydrochloride, it's easy to calculate. Basically, that ends up being 2.48 mg of commercial quinine per ounce of tonic water.

So, let's expand this out: a typical gin and tonic is 1.5 oz of gin and 4.5 oz of tonic, 6 ounces total. That means we can expect 11.16mg of quinine in that beverage.

However, most producers of tonic syrups don't use quinine hydrochloride/quinine sulphate... and there's the rub.

Cinchona bark is approximately 5% quinine.

The Most Popular Tonic Water Syrup Recipe Has Too Much Quinine

Let's take one of the most popular tonic syrup recipes, published by Jeffrey Morgenthaler: Basically, it's 6 cups of liquid to 1/4 cup of powdered cinchona bark, which is about 35 grams of cinchona. Extrapolate from that and we're talking about 35 grams of cinchona per 1.4 liters of end syrup, which is 25 grams per liter, and if it extracts fully, contributes 1.25 grams of quinine per liter, which equates to 1251 parts per million. That's 15 times the CFR standard.

If you use 3/4 of an ounce of that syrup in a Gin and Tonic, you're adding in 27.5 mg of quinine - more than double the amount of quinine in a commercial gin and tonic. 

Note: Does a syrup extract quinine fully from the cinchona? No - but it extracts faster from powdered cinchona versus cinchona chips or quills.

Note: Does a syrup that is sieved through a french press or a coffee filter have a high percentage of solids still in suspension? Yes - and any of the solids you swallow contribute the full amount of the quinine as your body digests the powder. 

Quinine in Bittermens Bitters and Liqueurs

Glaslser says, "We work with small amounts of cinchona in many of our bitters. At our concentration, there's only about 1.1 grams of cinchona per liter in the maceration, and all of the solids are removed down to 5 microns, which means there's barely any cinchona left in the mix. If we say that we get a full extraction of quinine from the cinchona before we filter it out, then we're talking about contributing about 57 mg of quinine per liter of bitters, or assuming a half ml of bitters per cocktail, we add no more than 0.0283 mg of quinine to a cocktail, or raise the total amount of quinine by 0.19 parts per million. Again, that's assuming that we left all of the cinchona bark in the final product, which we do not as we don't use powdered cinchona (we use larger pieces of bark). Most likely, we're contributing less than a tenth of that amount.

"Just for full disclosure, our liqueur division (Bittermens Spirits) makes a tonic liqueur - but we had that tested before releasing it to ensure that our liqueur was below 83 ppm, meaning that any beverage use would still be well below the federal limits."

Avery Glasser's Conclusion

All I'm saying this this: be careful. Bitters and tonic syrups can be fun to make, but they can be dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. I'm not saying that you need to be a food scientist or a compounding pharmacist to do things safely, but you have to understand that you're working with potentially harmful substances! Indian Calamus root, Virginia Snakeroot or tobacco - even in small amounts can have horrible and irreversible effects. Just last week, I was told about a bar that was soaking stone fruit pits in neutral grain and had no idea about cyanide toxicity.

For us, it's now five days later and the symptoms are basically gone, but it also means we have to be careful about having cinchona for another week or so.  

That's it. No rant. Just a plea for my health and the health of all of our friends and customers: think carefully before making your own tinctures, extracts, bitters and syrups.


 Thanks to Avery Glasser for sharing his story - and the math - with us. 



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Consider that the dose of quinine for treatment of malaria is in the neighborhood of 800mg/day for a 175lb person (equivalent of 70 liters of straight tonic water). Some people are more sensitive to quinine.

Camper English

Wow, thank you! I wouldn't say I'm up to 70 liters a day just yet.


Hi Camper,

I am also friends with the Glassers and we had this exact discussion in New Orleans a few weeks ago. I am the founder of and (we sell over 20 different tonic syrups to customers in Australia and shortly in the US). I have been investigating importing cinchona bark for the DIY market to both Australia and the US, and will be bringing in different varietals form 3 different countries. One thing readers of your blog should be made aware of is that there are many different species of cinchona. Each species of cinchona has different levels of alkaloids and different levels of quinine. Here is a table you and your readers may find interesting:
Table: Alkaloid Content Comparison by Cinchona species

  Species        Total Alkaloids (%)     Quinine Content (%)
C. calisaya 3 - 7 0 - 4
C. pubescens 4.5 - 8.5 1 - 3
C. officinalis 5 - 8 2 - 7.5
C. ledgeriana 5 -14 3 - 13
C. succirubra 6 - 16 4 - 14
So ask which varietal you are getting. The above is just a guide. Hope it is useful.

So knowing which varietal you are getting helps in knowing which are stronger etc.

Camper English

Thank you Jd, this is great!


This is a VERY REAL CONCERN! I made Tonic water about a year ago and am positive I had cinchonism from it. Was working in my outbuilding and having another G&T and literally ended up on the toilet unable to move. My wife finally came looking for me at 1 in the morning and helped me get back in the house as I couldn't do it on my own. I was sick for a solid day and half. I just thought I had an odd bug and didn't put two and two together until weeks later. I'm making tonic again this weekend for the first time since and I'm following the advice here carefully as my filtering a year ago was not that great but I didn't think much of it. Stupid mistakes.

Antony jones

Consider an aeropress for much more effective filtering.


Wow, I have tons of solids left in my tonic water and had no problems with it. I'm definitely be more careful in the future though. JD, thanks for the useful info.

Dorothy Fast

Has anyone experimented with fining agents, like we use in home brew? I would be curious if the cinchona particles are gram negative or gram positive.

Camper English

I don't know anyone who has. I'm not sure that if you filtered out all the solids if it would still have much of the quinine in it. That said, I have a bunch of new fining agents I purchased recently so technically I could give it a try one of these days....


I get my cinchona from Since I fall under "lazy" I use the chunks instead of powder and use about 28 g per batch (again lazy. It was easier to buy 1oz to experiment with rather than get it exact.) So my extraction is going to be less. I do use JM's recipe for my basis, though in mixing a G&T we use about half the syrup he suggests.

Camper English

Sounds like laziness will pay off - in safety!



Hi Camper,

I think you made a mistake when talking about Jeffrey Morgenthaler recipe. You compare the syrup ppm to the CFR regulation, however, the syrup needs to be combined with soda water to become tonic. syrup+soda=tonic. When you factor in the 1 1/2 oz of soda per G&T, then the quinine in your example is around 300-400 ppm/L. This is is still ~4 higher than the CFR, but bartenders don't stop people from drinking +4 G&T because of quinine.......

Camper English

Hiya - I think you missed the line where that is figured in: "If you use 3/4 of an ounce of that syrup in a Gin and Tonic, you're adding in 27.5 mg of quinine - more than double the amount of quinine in a commercial gin and tonic." So that would only be twice the limit, and only if it fully extracted into the syrup. Possibly over the limit but probably totally safe.


That part is correct. -- However, I was just looking at the line "That's 15 times the CFR standard." which may be misleading.


Is this as much of a concern if one uses cut bark rather than powder? Thanks.

Camper English

I think you'll get much less quinine extraction with cut bark. The problem then is then do you get enough of the bitter notes?

John Dimitropoulos

Hi Camper, Just letting your readers know I have managed to bring in a substantial shipment of milled cinchona succirubra powder into the US from a sustainable cinchona farm Guatemala. For your US readers, they can find it at, for your Aussie/Kiwi readers they can find it at


Hi Camper,

Maybe you should check out Agar filtration instead of using coffee filters.
I'm no scientist but from my research the agar filtration should give you a much better result than the coffee filter method.

I tried it yesterday and it works just perfectly.

The only disadvantage I see is the fact that the whole filtration process needs a whole night.

Camper English

Hi - Did your tonic turn out clear? The picture in your post is still pretty brown but I'm not sure if that's the "before" picture.

Also, was it still bitter yet not bark-tasting?

I don't know what the chemical process is for extracting purified quinine from bark - if you can just boil it or put it in alcohol and then the rest we just need to filter; or not. I wonder if the agar process removes the quinine too, basically just takes out the particulates where the quinine is, or if it takes out the stuff that isn't quinine and leaves the quinine behind.

Never use powder. I use a screened tea ball and place one gram of cinchona bark into 4 ounces of boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove the tea ball and immediately place an ice cube into the liquid. Add one teaspoon of sugar or pack of Splenda. Then place the Cinchona liquid in an air tight jar. Refrigerate for a day. The liquid turns from light yellow to Bright orange. Tastes delicious and makes a great drink mix or use for leg cramps.
That is my secret Cinchona recipe.


I just bought a bunch of red cinchona to make tonic water at home. After reading a bunch of recipes and also articles on warnings including this one.
I'm wondering what sort of amounts of quinine we can expect to extract from steeping cinchona in water with citric acid and also what levels we would get from boiling or microwaving.
I saw from your post that red cinchona has around 4-14% quinine in it, and thinking that from cold water with citric acid steeping for 72hrs I would be removing only a small portion, I averaged it at around 5%.

What are your thoughts?


Camper English

Hi - Unfortunately I don't know enough quinine chemistry to answer your question at all. I'd love to know things like if quinine is more soluble in water/hot water vs alcohol and if things like citric acid increase solubility. Other than that, I figure the only thing we really know is that it's not going to be 100% extraction.


I have been envisioning a tonic recipe that is a little more "shelf stable" and have been considering trying to make a concentrate by infusing cinchona pieces, orange, lemon, etc in vodka or gin and then adding simple syrup when making the final drink. What effect would infusing have on the quinine and what do you think would be an appropriate ratio and timeline for the infusion? Is there anyway to tell how dangerous or safe it may be? Is this a ridiculous idea or worth a shot?

Camper English

Unfortunately I don't know. I look forward to the day when someone releases a purified quinine syrup/liquid with exact amounts on it; otherwise we're just guestimating.

Dave Romsey

A bit of a weird question for my fellow tonic water makers - Does your home-made tonic water glow under a black light? For anyone not in know, quinine fluoresces a brilliant blue under ultraviolet light. This was a fact I was reminded of during a recent late-night bowling excursion. I had the coolest drink around!

I decided to test my own tonic water under a black light, you know, for science. To my dismay and confusion, I found that my home-made tonic water (and full strength extract) did not glow under UV light. Both Canada Dry and Fever Tree brands glowed magnificently, however.

For my Cinchona extract, I used 6g powdered Cinchona Officinalis from Herbal Advantage via Amazon and 150ml 151 Everclear which I let sit for 24 hours. Then I filtered the mixture through a coffee filter. This is Jefferey Morgenthaler's technique from The Bar Book, except for that I let the infusion go for a full 24 hours because I felt that the original tincture was a little weak.

Like many of you, I've had some concerns over the amount of quinine I'm consuming. Now I'm wondering if there is enough quinine. I do feel that the taste is more on the Earthy side than bitter. Maybe that's just me. Gentian root on the on the hand, now that's bitter! One theory I have is that the pigment from the cinchona is affecting the ability for the quinine to fluoresce. I'm no scientist though.

Never the less, I did try some crude experiments. I found that my cinchona tincture did fluoresce a little bit once I added bleach to it. The odd thing was that the glow was green (like antifreeze) and not blue. I also verified that the bleach, Everclear, and combinations of the two did not fluoresce under UV light.

I haven't been able to find anything on the web about the missing glow, so I wanted to reach out to you all. Any feedback would be welcomed!

Camper English

Hi Dave - I have also looked at a few tonic syrups, and just plain quinine bark under blacklight to see that it does not glow. My theory is that it is the isolated quinine molecules that fluoresce, rather than bound up in bark. I know there is some info on Wikipedia on quinine fluorescence as I was looking at it before a conference last year.

The bleach thing is interesting - I wonder if it's better at isolating quinine somehow? Or perhaps it's extracting another ingredient in the bark that glows blue?

I don't know exactly the isolation process for quinine from bark but it's certainly more complex than just extracting with alcohol. And perhaps it's quinine sulfate as a molecule that glows rather than however it is in bark.

Anyway, those are some thoughts and theories.

Dave Romsey

Hello Camper, thank you for your insights! The additional data points you've shared are reassuring.

Richard Sim

I'm interested in the China honey rock sugar


Thanks for your details and explanations..I want more information from your side..I Am working in Bluestar Water Dispenser In Chennai.

Robert Stickles

Camper English, your observations highlight an important consideration in making home extractions -- if you don't have a way of testing what you are extracting for either purity or identity (and I'm sorry, but "tastes bitter" and "looks brown" are not a good tests for *anything*) then you are driving blind into this. Proceed with caution.

That said, there are a couple of possibilities for why the chinchona bark extract doesn't fluoresce and the pure salt does:

The process for industrial quinine purification uses both extremes of pH and some pretty nasty solvents, plus some high temperatures -- so a straight aqueous extraction which most of the home methods describe is probably getting very little of the quinine-like alkaloids out of the bark. Using powdered bark increases the surface area and it's more likely people contract chinchoism because of the action of digestive enzymes and stomach acids on the cell wall of the powdered bark.

So you basically lose the flavouring aspect of quinine in your drinks and end up flooding your system with unknown quantities of potentially toxic alkaloids later -- and there's not just quinine in chinchona! Not to put too fine a point on it but just because your dog survived eating chocolate one time doesn't mean he's immune to caffeine and theobromine, it just means you got lucky in that instance. That's the problem with anecodotal evidence and thinking along the lines that because it's a 'natural' extract that it's somehow healthier than a pure chemical. The Glassers are lucky that chinchonism (if indeed that's what they were experiencing, who knows?) was the only side effect and this would be a completely different article if someone had ended up dead. Quinine quantities are regulated in certain parts of the world not to opressively poop on your party but for reasons of safety with scientific study to back it up.

Ok. Biochemical sermon over.

Two other possibilities for why the extract doesn't fluoress:

1) Another component in the extract is interfering with the free ring electrons needed for the conversion of UV into visible light.

2) There are several isomers of quinine and at least one stereoisomer (mirror-image). it's highly possible that these isomers don't fluoress and that's what you have extracted. Age/season of chinchona bark harvesting may yield completely different alkaloid profiles and different chemical environments may make certain isomers more stable.

This makes for some interesting reading:

Camper English

Thank you for this!

Ken Smith

Pinch and Swirl has the ultimate tonic recipe. I have made some mods, notably an increase in syrup by half again as much as is recommended. Nonetheless I wonder how much quinine is in the final product. It is a totally cold process, which is key to this recipe's flavor, and uses citric acid to extract from bark bits, in the fridge, over the course of three days. I make a batch about every ten days. Is there a place to get it tested I wonder? There are no solids; it's as clear as beer.

Camper English

I think that a lot of tonic syrups taste great with not a ton of color (and I assume less quinine too). As for testing, this is something I'm going to be researching soon before a seminar I'm giving in July, as it would be good to know how much really gets into the final drink with different syrups. Hopefully I'll have information to share here in Alcademics in a couple months.

Hasse Rasmussen

Speaking as a natural product chemist and a avid G&T drinker I thought I´d contribute with some science to this thread.

Extracting chemical compounds from bark and other herbal sources is not an exact science. The efficiency of extraction is very much dependent on the size of the cinchona particles (extraction is more efficient from powdered bark than chunks because the surface area is larger)

Extracting alkaloids like quinine is complicated by the fact, that the neutral alkaloid is very poorly soluble in water. Alkaloids being alkaline in nature (hence the name) are much more soluble in acid, which is why many recipes include citric acid.
Quinine is more soluble in alkohol so using vodka to extract the alkaloid will work but you end up with quinine flavored liqueur instead of a syrup.

As for why there is no fluorescence in the syrup, it is probably due to the fact, that the syrup isn't acidic. quinine has the strongest fluorescence in acids and the fact that tonic water is fluorescent is because it contains lots of carbondioxide, which makes carbonic acid with water.

As for determining the amount of quinine in the syrup, it is not very easy in the home kitchen as it is normally done using equipment found in professional labs, a well equipped high school lab might have it so find a G&T drinking high school chemistry teacher.

I hope this post has answered some of the questions raised here.

"I'm on a Gin & Tonic diet - I have lost two days already"

Camper English

Thank you for this great information Hasse!

Jeff Mastin

I recently moved to Ecuador where tonic water is either prohibitively expensive or not very good. Ironically cinchona grows everywhere in the rain forest here but you can't find the bark in stores. I sourced some cinchona bark from Mexico via Amazon and boiled a tea. No good. Just tastes like wood. I just took a trip to the Ecuadorian amazon near the Colombian border where our guide helped me take some directly from a tree. This tastes totally different than the Mexican version when chewed. I was not aware that there are different varieties, which would explain the different tastes. I will be extracting soon using a citric solution and neutral spirit. I intend to distill this into a clear liquid with I hope the essence remaining. I did this for clarifying and raising the abv of my home made Gin essence and found that the flavors came through without the color.

For those who are using powder, if I find that the distillation preserves the flavor, using that method would eliminate any particles. It is easy to construct a simple stove top alembic still from a few stainless steel pans that fit together and a veggie steamer tray. If I can post images I will sketch one out and post. I will post whether or not this distillation of tonic is acceptable also

Jeff Mastin

Here is a person who shows how to do the stove top method. Components are different, design and concept identical.

Basically you want to vaporize part of your solution and then take the condensed steam. You use a large pot with your solution in the bottom. You place a receiving vessel inside, but raised from the bottom of the pot so it does not get hot enough to re vaporize what you have collected. The lid is the bottom of a round bowl or inverted lid so that the steam condenses and drips off the center into the receiving vessel. You fill the lid with water, add ice if preferred. It is hard to know when to stop applying heat. the temperature of the water in the lid can be a good sign of how much steam has been condensed.

Jeff Mastin

here is the link to the stove top still

Camper English

Thank you Jeff. I was curious as to whether we could find a homemade way to extract just the quinine from the bark, and if distillation would work to do that. The process for refining it as I recall was too complicated/dangerous (a lot of chemistry-grade acids/solvents) so I didn't research further. But I am curious as to what distillation would do.

Please just be aware of the percent quinine (and note that it is one of I believe 4 related alkaloids)in the bark and by how much you are concentrating it. Wouldn't want you to get cinchonitis.


We are a Peruvian company that offers varieties of natural products and medicinal plants raw materials, crushing, powder, extract powder, liquid extract, packaging according to customer order we are exporters to different countries:
Palo santo, copal, myrrh,
Golden berry fruit dried
Purple corn cob powder (Mays Zea )
Abuta : (abutta officinalis); a Grandiflora
Achiote: (bixa Orellana)
Agracejo: ( berberis vulgaris)
Ajos sacha : (manosa )
Alfalfa : (Medicago sativa)
Ajenjo: (Artemisia absinthium)
Anguarate ((Mentzelia cordifolia)
Arnica (Arnica montana L)
Borraja (Borrago officinalis L)
Boldo (pneumus boldus )
Bolaina or mutamba (guazuma ulmifolia)
Caihua (cyclanthera pedata)
Cedron (simaba cedron)
Carqueja ( baccharis genisteloides)
Clavo huasca (tynnanthus paneurensis)
Cola de caballo (equisetum arvense)
Cascarilla (Chinchona officinalis )
Copaiba (copaifera officinalis)
Culen (psoralea glandulosa)
Chancapiedra (phillanthus niruri)
Chuchuhuasi bark (maytenus macrocarpa)
Diente de león (Taraxacum officinalis)
Sangre de grado (crotón lecheri )
Zornia (Zornia latifolia)
Escorzonera (Scorzonera hispanica.)
Eucalitos (Eucalyptus globulus)
Flor de arena (tiquilia paronychioides)
Flor Blanca (robinia pseudacacia)
Maracuya (Passiflora edulis)
Graviola (annona muricata)
Guayaba (Psidium guajava)
Hercampuri (gentionella alborosea)
Huamanripa (senecio tephrosiodes)
Huanarpo macho (jatropha macracantha)
Molle (schinus molle)
Iporuro (alchirnea castaneifolia)
Jergon sacha (dracontium loretensi)
Manayupa (desmodium adscendes)
Matico (piper angustifolium)
Mucura (petiveria alliacea
Mullaca (physalis angulata)
Muña (minthostachys setosa)
Oje (ficus anthelmintica)
Paico (chenopodium ambrosioides)
Malva (malva silvestris)
Palo santo (bursera graveolens)
Pasuchaca (geraniun delsianum)
Llanten (Plantago major)
Toronjil (Melissa officinalis)
Sen (cassia angustifolia )
Suelda con suelda (phthirusa adunca)
Shiric sanango (tabermontana sananho; sin: bonafusia sananho)
Hierba luisa (Aloysia triphylla)
Hinojo (Foeniculum vulgaris)
Verbena (verbena litoralis)
Wira-wira (gnaphalium graveolens
Yacon smallanthus sonchifolius
Zarzaparilla (smilax officinalis)
Aliso (Alnus glutinosa)
Naranja (citrus sinensis)
Nogal (junglas regia)
Ortiga (urtiga diosa)
Romero (rosmarinus officinalis)
Uña de gato (uncaria tomentosa)
Nucño pichana (scoparia dulcis)
Tomillo (Thymus vulgaris)
Yucca (yucca filamentosa)
Wild dagga (leonotis leonorus)
Pájaro bobo (Tessaria absimthioides)
Pimpinela (Sanguisorba officinalis)
Palo santo (bursera graveolens )
Jarilla Hembra ( larea divaricata )
'm waiting your comments
kind regards


I love the Pinch and Swirl recipe a lot. Don't worry about the amber glow, commercial tonic people use chemically-produced clear quinine.
Meanwhile this article appears to be instilling the fear of god in us instead of celebrating the glorious G&T. And before anyone starts using bark and filtering properly you are going to be fine. Seriously, if we all survived our mothers cooking a G&T is not going to kill us. And yes, i did say that my mum's gravy was lumpy.

Sarah G

Does anyone know if the length of time of infusion of the cinchona bark means a stronger (read: possibly more toxic) syrup? I made Pinch and Swirl's cold infusion, and unexpectedly had it infusing in the fridge for a week, instead of 72 hours....thoughts??

Camper English

I don't know enough about how the actual quinine is extracted to say. Venturing a guess, I'd think since this is a water infusion rather than an alcohol one, you're on the safer side. But that's a guess.


I have been using the powdered cinchona bark to make tonic for the last two years - we drink it all of the time and it never occurred to me that there might be an issue. I have been using filters my friend that makes biodiesel gave me (not sure how many microns but they are filtering a whole lot more effectively than coffee filters and I can reuse them several times). Despite triple filtering there is still some residue in the bottom of the containers I store the tonic syrup in, but when I used coffee filters there would be residue in the bottom of my glass.
After reading this article and all of the responses, I started re-thinking my use of the powder form and discovered Penn Herb Co makes a granulated cinchona. I am wondering if anyone has tried it - it seems to me it would filter easier than the powder and might be a happy medium between cut bark and powder.
Thanks for sharing all of this information!

Camper English

I'd not heard of granulated form before - only powder and bark chunks. Could be a nice compromise.

Glad to hear that with regular consumption over 2 years you've not had any side effects. It's hard to know what dose one is getting but clearly you're under that level.



This company sells quina cinchona in liquid form - how does that work?


Camper English

The product has no information about how much quinine is in the bottle and what the safe limits are, nor any warning about how an overdose can kill someone. So, Lori, I'd say this product is a danger to consumers.


Those with low tryptophan levels should not use cinchonia, it inhibits the production of tryptophan.

Ron Paitich

I have severe leg cramps that wake me several times a night. I used to get quinine sulphate for treatment, which worked very well. I'd lake a capsule (?) and it would carry me for a week or more. Of course Qunine-SO4 is no longer available.

If there are readers with med experience, to guide me in how much Quinine tea to take for my cramps, I'd be appreciative.



Quinine (and salt derivatives of the quinine base) has poor solubility in water, so if you want to play it safe do your quinine extraction from cinchona bark with pure water as a solvent:
1 gram needs 1900 mL of boiling water. So that will be your maximum amount of quinine: 526 mg/L.
Warning: things change dramatically when ethanol is added during extraction, and overdosing/doing it is very easy then.

Apart from that: professional extractions of quinine have these steps: alkaline extraction - dissolving in xylene/toluene - adding acid - aqueous separation - crystallisation.


Camper English

Thank you!


It's likely self quenching. Quinine is known to self quench above a certain concentration. If your tonic doesn't fluoresce and you want it to, try diluting it.


If one were hypothetically to purchase quinine sulfates how much would one hypothetically need to put in a syrup for a 2 liter bottle so that each 8oz serving is 300mgs of quinidine which is the lowest dose administered for malaria?

Camper English

I think the reference you want is Dave Arnold's Liquid Intelligence, which handles how to use quinine sulfate safely - if it clumps up in the mixture it could kill someone. Also please do not use the malarial dose, which is often enough to give someone cinchonitis, but use the 86ppm legal max at most.


Technically incorrect.

In the US, off the shelf tonic water is 83mg/L so you will need about 10L for 830mg dose. Not to say 10L is doable, but just felt to mention it as if someone were stupid enough to drink 70L they would have received a 5810mg aka almost 6 grams. With 5 grams you go blind.

In Europe that is 100mg/L which means 8L to make up the 800mg.

Mike Richards

Hey, could you please explain why the malaria dose of 300mg per day might give someone cinchonitis but its somehow ok for treating malaria. Even up to 800mg per day. Seems like a double standard no?


Just ordered bark because the doofus President reported that a "treatment for Malaria" was being used as treatment for COVID-19. Maybe a crazy purchase. Or not. Who knows? I will play it safe. WtG's water formula is correct. and y'all remember that historic records verify that seriously ill Malaria patients suffer some bad stuff in order to stay alive. Same thing happens to us with chemotherapy.

P One

I am very confused by dosing in this discussion, and maybe someone can help to calibrate things.

First, I would avoid pure cinchona bark because you have no idea how concentrated that would be. Different trees could have really different concentrations. So let's look at tinctures of cinchona officinalis.

A typical tincture of cinchona officinalis contains "whole plant extract of 400 mg (herbal equivalent 2000 mg)". Now how do I translate that into the dosing used in this article? How many mcg or mg of quinine is this? How do we translate that to ppm?

Given how poorly dosing is documented, it seems pretty dangerous to experiment loosely with this.


You are correct, there is no dosing information and you should not take cinchona bark to treat or prevent any illness.


I will be closing the comments on this post. Do not attempt to make medicine using cinchona bark.

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