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quinine tonic water & zinc

Beyond Quinine Water and Zinc

Update end of July 2020 - When this article was first written, HCQ (hydroxychloroquine) had not yet been prohibited by pharmacists, Medical Boards, the CDC and FDA. Some medical doctors are saying they find it effective at 200 mg twice a week for prophylactic (preventative) and also for early stage use to keep patients out of hospitals when combined with zinc and azithromycin (to handle bacterial co-infections). This is highly disputed.

Keep in mind, as stated in the article below, that zinc is an essential mineral nutrient. A deficiency of zinc affects the immune system as well as many other systems of the body. The effect of hydroxychloroquine on zinc is to drive it into the cells, so it is called a "zinc ionophore". There are other zinc ionophores which are not medical drugs.

About Tonic Water with Quinine | About Zinc | Other Things to Do

Tonic Water with Quinine

Recently, a St Louis chiropractor went viral on the internet talking about how to prevent COVID-19 by taking zinc supplements and Tonic water with Quinine, as a substitute for hydroxychloroquine. He recommended 3 oz of tonic water a day and high dose zinc supplements. Tonic water soon sold out on Amazon, especially brands that have no high fructose corn syrup (like FeverTree Premium IndianTonic Water with Quinine with cane sugar, rather than Canada Dry, Seagrams or Schweppes which are all sweetened with High Fructose Corn Syrup). There is a value merely to having anything that may help, and having some security that you can do something about things that seem vastly out of your ability to control. So if you want to stash some Tonic water away, just in case, why not? I bought some Fever Tree, just in case, but then I did research to find out how valid it really might be.

Quinine tonic water was invented by the British Colonials in India in the 1800s as a preventative for malaria for British soldiers. Quinine bark powder killed the malaria parasite, preventing it from growing on blood cells or reproducing - but only on blood cells. Malaria parasites and eggs survived in other tissues and repopulated, hence the recurring nature of malaria fevers. But it was the best they had, and it allowed British soldiers and administrators to survive in the tropical climates of colonial India and Africa. Quinine water is quite bitter, so it was mixed with soda, lime and sugar - and mixed again with gin, to make the popular gin and tonic drink. [1] Later, a therapeutic dose of quinine was 500 to 1,000 mg in tablets.

Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limits quinine content in tonic water to no more than 83 parts per million. [2] This means there is 83 milligrams of quinine in one liter of tonic water. For comparison, according to the US National Library of Medicine [3], Hydroxychloroquine sulfate (Plaquenil) is prescribed in dosages on average of 400 mg per day for various uses (malaria, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis). Each 400 mg dose would contain somewhat less of the quinine itself (310mg). You'd have to drink 3 ĺ liters of Tonic water per day to get that amount, or about 18 little 6.8 oz bottles of FeverTree IndianTonic Water a day!

To get the equivalent of the claimed prophylactic dose of 200 mg dose HCQ which contains 155 mg quinine, you'd still have to drink half the amount, or 9 little bottles of Fever Tree Indian Tonic Water, or about 1.9 liters, twice a week. The 200 mg dose might be used because that is the size of dose generally manufactured. Even at the dose of hydroxychloroquine for preventing rather than treating malaria, the equivalent tonic water amount would be over half a liter a day (or over 2 Ĺ little 6.8 oz bottles of Fever Tree).

Three ounces of tonic water as Nepute recommended is nine-hundredths of a liter, and this would contain just 7.36 mg of quinine. No clue if a tiny amount like 3 oz does anything at all, there is no information one way or the other about this from Chiropractor Nepute or anyone else I can find. So people who are hoping that drinking 3 oz every day will prevent the virus, are pretty much whistling in the dark. Especially so because one of quinine's effects is to lower immune response. That may be useful if one is trying to forestall the cytokine storm that this coronavirus can cause, but it is not stated anywhere. (A cytokine storm is superinflammation created by the immune system as it attempts to rally to fight.) But uncertain if this amount acts adequately as a zinc "ionophore" - a substance which is able to transport particular ions across a lipid membrane into a cell. It is getting the zinc across the cell membrane and inside the cell that allows it to support immune activity in cells.

Full dose quinine can cause side effects which might be worth risking if you were ill and trying to avoid hospitalization. However, if you have started taking tonic water with quinine daily, you should be alert to possible side effects. Some possible side effects of quinine in tonic water: (from Medical News Today) vomiting, nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, ringing in the ears, nervousness, confusion. See also the possible serious side effects of regular medicinal use, which include abnormal heartbeat, kidney damage, severe allergic reaction, electrolyte imbalance, vision or eye issues, problems with bleeding, thrombocytopenia (decreased blood platelets - which can cause bleeding), lung toxicity.That's why recommendations are to consult a healthcare practitioner about use of quinine, and possibly hydroxychloroquine.

A friend of mine took 3 oz of tonic water for a week. When I shared the draft of this article with her, she recognized suddenly that while she felt a boost of energy drinking the tonic water, she had also starting having pounding irregular heartbeats at night. Four days after stopping the tonic water, the palpitations are almost gone. There were others who didn't have such a reaction, but you need to make yourself aware of the potential side effects of ANYTHING you take for your health!

Now what about zinc?

A few weeks ago, health food stores shelves were virtually empty of Vitamin C as all kinds sold out to protect against COVID-19. Then last week it was Zinc supplements that were sold out. Zinc was the other part of the viral (on youtube) recommendation to stay safe and live through the coronavirus pandemic.

People kept asking "what is the best kind of zinc to get"? By "best" they usually meant "the most absorbable by the body" in order to get highest amount into their bodies. Sure enough, the bottles of zinc left on the shelf had lower mg of zinc and were the less absorbable kinds (like zinc sulfate, and the less than desirable zinc oxide). The 50 mg bottles of zinc picolinate and citrate and acetate were all gone. Sold out on Amazon, too. Even higher dose zinc gluconate was gone.

High dose supplementation is not necessarily the best longterm strategy. Short term high dose zinc should be good, if you are deficient. Long term, be careful. There are things you should understand about zinc.

First, zinc is really beneficial as a nutrient. It is used in innumerable processes of the body for energy, sexual reproduction, immune function, protein synthesis, activating enzymes, growth, mental balance, gut health, healthy skin/hair and eyes, sense of taste and smell, and more. [7], [13]

A zinc deficiency could result in loss of a sense of smell and taste (hmmmÖ also a COVID-19 symptom). Zinc deficiency can also cause loss of appetite, hair loss, diarrhea, inflammation, slow wound healing and increased susceptibility to infections and many other detrimental effects. [7] [8] [14]

You can get too much zinc, on the other hand. It is best to be aware of the side effects of anything you are going to take.

Even at 40 mg per day, in excess "In some people, zinc might cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, metallic taste, kidney and stomach damage." [4] According to the National Institutes of Health Zinc Fact Sheet, "When people take too much zinc for a long time, they sometimes have problems such as low copper levels, lower immunity, and low levels of HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol).[5] Also, a study in 2007 showed high 80 mg zinc supplementation resulted in increased hospitalizations for urinary tract infections and kidney and prostate problems. [11]

Excess zinc can create unintended health consequences because it can create an imbalance with other essential nutrients, especially copper. [14] Too much zinc impairs the absorption of copper, which then can cause you problems like anemia, fatigue and weakness, frequent sickness, weak and brittle bones, problems with memory and learning, difficulties walking, increased cold sensitivity, pale skin, premature gray hair and vision loss. [6] So watch out for taking daily excess zinc which may result in a copper deficiency. This would obviously be more likely in people who supplement with high dose zinc when they were not deficient to begin with, or who are already low in copper.

So how do you know if you are deficient in zinc?

Zinc is hard to accurately assess by blood test because that doesn't reflect what is inside the cells. There is a taste test that can be done at home or with a sample, that will give you immediate information about your zinc status. When you have plenty of zinc, more zinc will taste bitter, metallic and very unpleasant.

There are liquid zinc test bottles sold especially for this taste test, but you could just get some simple liquid zinc sulfate (10 to 50 mg) and squirt a dropperful of 50 mg into a few ounces of water, or put a teaspoonful of lower dose 10 mg zinc sulfate into a cup with a few ounces of water. Hold this under your tongue for half a minute. If it tastes awful and your immediate reaction is to spit it out, you do not need more zinc! Your body already has enough.

If the taste is neutral like water or sweet, you lack sufficient zinc and could use more from food or supplements. Somewhere in between, when after a delay it starts tasting somewhat bitter, then you have some zinc but maybe not adequate for all the functions it is needed for.


Supplementing is not so simple. You don't want to take too much for too long, although a week or so of higher dose zinc supplements is ok according to some medical websites. Check with your health practitioner, obviously, and see if he has advice about zinc for you. You could also do the zinc taste test again to verify that you aren't continuing to take more zinc daily when you already have enough.

A safer way to get enough zinc regularly is through your diet. Oysters are the highest source for a blast of zinc,if you can stand eating them, and they also contain copper. If you don't eat oysters, there are plenty of other foods that are have zinc like beef, shellfish, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds. Many people in developed countries are not heavily deficient, unless they are elderly or malnourished, but they may not really have all they need either for optimal function.

Many foods contain anti-nutrient components that make it harder to absorb zinc from food. These include high-fiber foods like grains, beans, nuts and seeds, which although they contain zinc, also contain phytates that protect the plant seeds unless soaked, sprouted or fermented. So vegetarians may have to eat double amounts to get enough zinc. On the other hand, if you aren't deficient, you won't be getting too much with these foods and can eat an abundance.

Smoking, alcohol, inflammatory bowel diseases, and coffee reduce zinc absorption. General malnutrition is also a factor for poorer populations. Exercise, on the other hand, increases the need for zinc.

So you can see that it can be tricky to get the right amount of zinc for your needs, and while you may think supplements useful, you don't want to take too much when you don't need it or for too long, and end up with a toxic imbalance. If you do supplement with zinc, you could alseat or take some copper at another time of day to give your body a balance. [12], [14]

There are natuarl zinc ionophores, foods and nutrients that aid zinc in getting through the cell membrane and into cells for immune work. These include the flavinoids quercetin and epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG), which are found in many plant foods. Quercetin is a fat-soluble bioflavinoid found abundantly in onions, apples, buckwheat, citrus fruits, cherries, red grapes, raspberries and green leafy vegetables including broccoli. EGCG is found in highest amounts in green tea.

My personal favorite way to get extra zinc is by eating an organic Pumpkin Seed Butter. It can be stone ground and creamy so all its nutrients are more available than in whole seeds. It not only contains a good amount of zinc, but also magnesium, potassium, manganese, chromium, copper, molybdenum, selenium, B vitamins, vitamin K, and tryptophan. (As with most seeds, there are more Omega 6 than Omega 3 fatty acids, so donít overdo it.)[15]

So a few times a week, I like to mix a drizzle of pumpkin seed butter into salad dressing made with lemon juice, or spread it on apple slices, or dip red pepper, apple and carrots slices in it, or mix with garlic and drizzle it over cooked greens and onions, or top oatmeal or buckwheat cereal with a tablespoon along with berries or red grapes. You can fit some pumpkin seed butter into almost any diet you follow, except carnivore which can supply zinc from meats.

The best thing about gettng zinc from food surces on a regular basis (like pumpkin seed butter) is that I can taste what I am eating, and if I donít have the desire to eat it, I am pretty sure it is because I have enough zinc. When I do have the urge to eat some, I figure there is a desire for the nutrients in it. By the way, I did the zinc taste test recently, and the zinc test liquid tasted really, really bad to me. So I know I don't need to supplement with more at this time.

So what else can you do to stay healthy?

Support your good health. Keep your immune system strong and stay healthy. Eat well, change to a healthier diet if possible, to include more fresh vegetables, nutrient-dense foods and herbs. Get sunshine.

~ Try some of our Natural Immune System Support products including traditional herbs and remedies
as well as latest Systemic Enzymes.
~ We also carry foundational supplements providing the underlying basic nurition that supports the immune system,
and Support for Digestion and your microbiome.

Wash your hands. Didnít your momma always tell you that? Itís a really good idea Ė many major diseases have been conquered with good hygiene before any vaccines entered the scene.

Get or keep in shape with exercise. This is up to you, and your dog, and your yoga mat.

Learn something. Develop your skills, strengthen your storehouse of tools and know-how tht you can help yourself and others with. Read books (remember those?), listen to books read aloud on and pocasts on various online services.There are zillion videos on youtube to learn anything. Learn from somebody in person who has skills and knowledge to impart.

Take the stress off whenever you can and laugh, sing or listen to good music. Stay positive and use your imagination to create a good future. Find the positive news spread by others, enjoy the company of others. Keep in touch with those you love. Make new friends too, taking the opportunity to learn about the humanity of others.

On the other hand, do your research and shine the light of truth anytime and anywhere you can. Lies shrivel when the truth becomes clear and known.

This post is for information only and is based on my personal experiences and research. I recommend you also research, and consult your health practitioner for advice, when you want to take your health into your own hands.

Disclaimer: The information above should not take the place of medical advice. It is for information only, not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure any disease.. We encourage you to talk to your healthcare providers about your interest in, questions about, or use of medications or dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health. Any mention here of a specific product or recommendation from an organization or professional society, does not represent an endorsement of that product or expert advice.

5 Zinc Fact Sheet for Consumers
7 Zinc deficiency.Tuerk MJ1, Fazel N. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2009 Mar;25(2):136-43. doi: 10.1097/MOG.0b013e328321b395.
8 The immune system and the impact of zinc during aging. Haase H1, Rink L. Immun Ageing. 2009 Jun 12;6:9. doi: 10.1186/1742-4933-6-9.
9 Contribution of selected vitamins and trace elements to immune function. Wintergerst ES1, Maggini S, Hornig DH. Ann Nutr Metab. 2007;51(4):301-23. Epub 2007 Aug 28.
10 Selected vitamins and trace elements support immune function by strengthening epithelial barriers and cellular and humoral immune responses. Maggini S1, Wintergerst ES, Beveridge S, Hornig DH. Br J Nutr. 2007 Oct;98 Suppl 1:S29-35.
11 High dose zinc increases hospital admissions due to genitourinary complications. Johnson AR1, Munoz A, Gottlieb JL, Jarrard DF. J Urol. 2007 Feb;177(2):639-43.
12 Zinc: An Essential Micronutrient American Family Physician
13 Biological consequences of zinc deficiency in the pathomechanisms of selected diseases Kamil Jurowski, Bernadeta Szewczyk, Gabriel Nowak, and Wojciech Piekoszewski J Biol Inorg Chem. 2014; 19: 1069Ė1079.. doi: 10.1007/s00775-014-1139-0
14 Zinc Deficiency Luke Maxfield; Jonathan S. Crane.
16 Novartis clinical trial ORCHID, NIH Clinical Trial at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville


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