Traditional knowledge incorporated into western medicine

Traditional knowledge incorporated into western medicine
1629. Quinine, malaria and the Duchess of Chinchón © AEEH

Traditional knowledge incorporated into western medicine

Cinchona bark was part of the wide ethno-botanical knowledge for medical use that was used by indigenous groups in Peru, Colombia and Ecuador.

It was a woman, Ana de Osorio, wife to the Count of Chinchón, viceroy of Peru, who through the Jesuits that were in contact with the indigenous peoples, used it to cure herself of malaria (or tertian malaria). She was also the first European to try it “with happy results” in the hospital in Lima, and she then brought it to Spain when she returned to Seville, accompanied by the viceroy’s doctor who had treated her.

In her honour, Linnaeus named the tree (symbolically represented on the Peruvian flag) Chinchona officinalis.