The Health Benefits of Tonic Water

Tonic water reached us Indians in a most circuitous fashion. The possible story of its origin is rather fascinating, and twined through with the Incas, Spanish colonists, British colonial rule, and malaria. Yes, malaria. Well, let us begin at the beginning.

A long time ago, the Peruvian Incas ruled over one of the largest empires of pre-Columbian America, a beautiful, thriving, successful and powerful empire, until the Spanish invaders colonised it in 1572. The Incas were known for many things – a massive army, excellent agriculture (including terraced system of farming), well-developed roadways that criss-crossed the entire kingdom, exquisite architecture (Macchu Picchu, for example), a centralized religion, and one language, all of which helped in binding it into a cohesive kingdom.

However, a smaller (yet more relevant to our story) achievement of the Incas, was the discovery of quinine, from the bark of what the Spanish called the Cinchona tree. This was a discovery made by the clever and intrepid Incas, who realized that when the bark was powdered and transformed into a sort of medicinal tea, made with hot or cold water, it stopped the shivers that came with malaria, and reduced the fever.