Can Tonic water with its quinine have health benefit? A Medline search turned out that quinine may help in the treatment of muscle spasm (Waldmann HJ (1994) Centrally acting skeletal muscle relaxants and associated drugs. J Pain Symptom Manage 9:434-41.) First I learned about such drug effect from an excellent review (Brasic JR Should people with nocturnal leg cramps drink tonic water and bitter lemon ? Psychological Reports 84:355-367). While the Tonic water has some effect against leg cramps, patients with kidney or liver failure and quinine hypersensitivity should stay away from the beverage.

Searching our newsgroup data base I found Dr Young comment on Dr Boggs posting on a related drug quinacrine. The star drug of World War II turned out effective against mad cow disease. In 1992 quinacrine received a discontinued US status. Quinine known by the Westerners for 350 years, the FDA has no guts to discontinue it. We live in the rat-race where only new and expensive drugs receive research, and an artificial placebo effect placed around every less than seven years old drugs.

I would like to ask Dr. Young what is the difference and overlapping between spasticity, spasm, and cramps. I hope that the quinine molecule does not know the answer and effective in broad range of problems.

I like to share my own anecdotal story on Tonic. Although I don't have SCI stiff neck (likely from thyroid problems) bothers me for years. Two cups of Tonic at bedtime helped me to relax muscles otherwise would stay stiff. However I had to maintained alertness not to fall back in my stretching, hot shower posture guarding routine; the tonic only an additional help not a cure. An added benefit that quinine: helped with my digestive problems.

Quinine is discovered in the Amazonian cinchona tree's bark. According to oral tradition a Jesuit lost in the Jungle of the Amazon and contracted malaria. As he collapsed he was very thirsty from his fever. He found a paddle he drunk it even it was very bitter. He woke up next morning relieved thanks to the quinine extract from the tree next to him.