“It almost goes without saying that among Protestant physicians hatred of the Jesuits and religious intolerance lie at the bottom of the long conflict over the good or harm effected by Peruvian Bark.” – Alexander von Humboldt
Peruvian bark (Cinchona) and its pharmacologically active substance derived from it, quinine has long been known to treat and cure many diseases that torment human kind. The cinchona tree’s medicinal uses were first discovered by the Quechua people of Peru and Bolivia. It has been documented over the course of history by old time nineteenth century medical professionals, healers and authors as a cure for cancer, malaria, fevers and other ailments.
The English physician, Sir Robert Talbor had become famous for his miraculous malaria cure using Peruvian Bark for English King Charles. In return for curing the king, Talbor was offered membership of the prestigious Royal College of Physicians. Talbor was again called on royalty in 1679 when the King of France, Louis XIV, had asked Talbor to heal his son who was suffering from malaria fever. Again, Talbor’s bark remedy worked like a charm and for his service to King Louis, he was rewarded with 3,000 gold crowns and a lifetime pension for this prescription.
Benjamin Franklin had written in his Poor Richard’s Almanac for October, 1749, telling the story of Robert Talbot’s use of it to cure the French Dauphin. In the 18th century, the Italian professor of medicine Ramazzini said that the introduction of Peruvian bark would be of the same importance to medicine that the discovery of gunpowder was to the art of war.
“Few subjects in natural history have excited general interest in a higher degree than cinchona; none perhaps have hitherto merited the attention of a greater number of distinguished men”. Dissension, however, was rife at the time, mainly due to its source of discovery, the Jesuits. As the great Alexander von Humboldt said, “It almost goes without saying that among Protestant physicians hatred of the Jesuits and religious intolerance lie at the bottom of the long conflict over the good or harm effected by Peruvian Bark”.(Weddel d. 1877)
With these discoveries, soon came the need to exploit, control and keep this herbal remedy secret from the masses in order to dominate the medical industry and of course, profit. It Peruvian Bark was known by such names as the The Countess’s Powder, Jesuit’s Bark, Jesuit’s Tree, Jesuit’s Powder, and Pulvis Patrum and it became so valuable that this bark was selling for its weight in silver. Oliver Cromwell probably died of malaria and is supposed to have refused treatment with Peruvian bark because of its Jesuitical origins.
This history is detailed in The Catholic Encyclopedia:
“The Spanish Jesuit missionaries in Peru were taught the healing power of the bark by natives, between 1620 and 1630, when a Jesuit at Loxa was indebted to its use for his cure from an attack of malaria (Loxa Bark). It was used at the recommendation of the Jesuits in 1630, when Countess Chinchon (Cinchon; the derivative is Cinchona, the appellation selected b Linnaeus in 1742—Markham prefers Chinchona), wi e of the new viceroy, who had just arrived from Europe, was taken ill with malaria at Lima. The countess was saved from death and in thanksgiving caused la quantities of the bark to be collected, which she distributed to malaria sufferers.
Circumstances created a suitable o portunity for disseminating the bark from Rome t roughout Europe b means of the Jesuits. In 1646, 1650, and 1652 t e delegates to the eighth, ninth, and tenth general councils of the order (three from each province) returned to their homes, taking it with them,and at the same time there is evidence of its use in the Jesuit colleges at Genoa, Lyons, Louvain, Ratisbon,etc.
The remedy—connec with the name of Jesuit—very soon reached England. The English weekly “Mercurius Politicus” in 1658 contains in four numbers the announcement that: “The excellent wder known by the name of ‘Jesuit’s ‘powder’ may obtained from several London chemists.” It remains to recall the fact that even in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the bark kept in the Jesuit pharmacies or in their colleges was considered particularly efiicacious because they were better able to provide a genuine unadulterated supply.
Further, that in those two centuries Jesuit missionaries took the remedy to the malaria re ‘ons of foreign countries even reaching the court 0 Peking, where they cured the emperor by its means; that in Peru during the eighteenth century they urged American collectors to lay out new plantations; and in the nineteenth century they were the first to plant cinchona outside of South America.”
19th century author, John Shaw documents this history in also detailed in his book, The Cure of Cancer and how Surgery Blocks the Way. Shaw had written;
“The Bark—and the shortness of this designation is in reality one of the most convincing testimonials to the solidity of its reputation—was, tradition tells us, accidentally discovered by an Indian who was ill from fever, and quenched his thirst at a pool of water strongly impregnated with the bark from some trees which had fallen into it. His rapid recovery indicated to him the value of a remedy the bitterness of which had probably already arrested his attention and impressed his memory.
In 1630 it appears that a certain official in Loxa was cured of malaria by means of the same remedy; and two years later, so Dr. Joseph Villerobel tells us, it was introduced into Spain, but was there entirely ignored for seven years, a certain ecclesiastic of Alcala being the first patient in Spain to whom it was administered, in 1639. In the meanwhile—a year before, in fact—Countess Chinchon, the wife of the Governor of Peru—was successfully treated with it for intermittent fever after all other remedies had failed ; thereafter it was reintroduced into Europe (in 1640) under the title “The Countess’s Powder,” and a couple of years later the first book was published setting forth its merits.
Still, but little progress was made until the Jesuit priests undertook its sale, and Pope Innocent the Tenth, at the intercession of Cardinal de Lugo (formerly a Spanish Jesuit priest), ordered that its nature and effects should be inquired into. As a favourable report was received in regard to its innocent and salutary characters, it immediately rose into public notice.
The remedy was now known as the “]esuit’s Powder,” and in this form only was prescribed, the reverend fathers selling it for its weight in silver.
When the reader has perused the chapter on the use of drugs in cancer, he will, I believe, consider that this short history of the vicissitudes which have attended the career of bark and its chief alkaloid, quinine, is not devoid either of interest or importance. How prolonged and how fierce the strife has waged around this one remedy may be judged from the fact that, excluding works on the “ substitutes” for bark and on its “ cultivation,” there are no fewer than 287 monographs catalogued by Dr. E. J. Waring, in his “ Bibliotheca Therapeutica,” as having been published during the period 1642 to 1875.
Although I have had some experience in almost all the forms of treatment to be described (principally, however, in electricity, and in the combination of electricity with hypodermic medication) in such lines of treatment as have been more or less associated with certain individual observers, the cases selected for illustration w’ill be borrowed from their works. Certain remedies are also included for which no claim has been made as to their ability to cure cancer, although the improvement attending their use has been such as to thoroughly establish their value in practice—a fact which might have been anticipated if my working theory be adopted.”