Cinchona (Fever Tree)
The cinchona, or fever tree (of the Rubiaceae family), is known in its native Amazonian region as quina-quina, which, tellingly, translates to “bark of barks” or “medicine of medicines.”
While cinchona bark is an ancient herbal remedy with a wide range of healing benefits, it’s best known to Western medicine as the source of quinine, an effective cure for malaria. Though this life-saving healing property was almost certainly known to South Americans since long before it was discovered by Europeans in the 1600s, according to Malaria Journal (May 2011), “The discovery of quinine is considered the most serendipitous medical discovery of the seventeenth century and malaria treatment with quinine marked the first successful use of a chemical compound to treat an infectious disease.”
Quinine is also the definitive ingredient in tonic water, and it is added in very small amounts to a number of commercial beverages for its bitter flavor. Interestingly, under a black light, tonic water and other beverages with quinine appear fluorescent blue.
Please note: Quinine and cinchona bark should not be consumed by pregnant women and should only be used medicinally under expert supervision, as excessive dosage can cause serious harm and even death.
In some cases, herbal healers recommend a tincture from the bark of the cinchona tree as a bitter tonic to activate digestive juices and remedy sluggish digestion. (A commercially available homeopathic remedy for indigestion containing cinchona is available from the brand Hyland’s.)
Emotional Clearing and Detoxification
Medicinally, cinchona bark has been used for heart healing and fever reduction, and to dry excess moisture from the system. These physical properties, along with the bark’s antifungal and antibacterial actions, mirror the tree’s energetic ability to help heal grief and heartache, and to detoxify festering emotional wounds. Indeed, when life seems to have given you a “bitter pill to swallow,” this bitter-tasting tree can support you in first accepting the bitterness, and then transforming that bitterness into a tonic for permanent wholeness, power, and wisdom.
For this purpose, visit a cinchona tree—preferably in a place where you can be alone—and offer her a pinch of organic or wildcrafted tobacco. Sit in quiet contemplation with her. Silently present your emotional challenges and old hurts, and then allow yourself to feel and express your feelings as fully as you possibly can. Imagine that the pain and toxins that you feel are being drawn out of you, and into the soil for neutralization and transmutation.
Alternatively, you can create an emotional detoxification potion like the following:
TONIC WATER EMOTIONAL DETOX POTION
On a bright, sunny day when the moon is waning and in an air sign (Aquarius, Gemini, or Libra), prepare the following potion outdoors in full sunlight. Conjuring up gratitude for the cinchona tree pour a small glass of chilled tonic water. Add five drops of willow flower essence (one of the Bach Flower Remedies, available at most health food stores). Without touching the glass, direct your cupped palms toward it, being careful not to cast any shadow on it. Visualize the potion filled with a blindingly bright sphere of detoxifying light (like a miniature sun) as you say:
Medicine of medicines, make me clean
Infuse me with pure light of green.
With this drink to clear the old
My heart’s true healing shall unfold.
Then feel the magic working as you drink every last sip.
As the cinchona tree resonates with the potent, highly positive, fiercely protective energy of the Great Goddess in her earth mother aspect, cinchona bark can be an excellent addition to protection sachets and spells.
“Antispasmodic” and “muscle relaxant” are listed among cinchona bark’s many medicinal monikers. From a metaphysical perspective, this aspect of cinchona’s wisdom translates into support with stress that manifests as headaches, cramping, spasms, and general physical tension. To receive an energetic infusion of support for any of these types of concerns, spend time in quiet contemplation with the tree while breathing consciously and allowing your thoughts and worries to settle. Additionally, a homeopathic remedy made from cinchona is commercially available and can be taken for the purpose. (Responsibly prepared homeopathic remedies contain very diluted amounts of the actual plant and are generally safe.)