For centuries, Native Peruvians used dried bark from the South American
cinchona tree for various medicinal purposes, including as a muscle relaxant
and fever reducer. In the 1600s, Europeans began treating malaria patients with
the bark. Finally, in 1820, French chemists Pierre Joseph Pelletier and Joseph
Caventou extracted quininefrom the bark, which became the first pure
chemical isolated from a plant and utilized against a specific disease.