A very necessary ingredient in the popular gin and tonic, tonic water is loved by many and enjoyed thoroughly even without the gin. It is the quinine in tonic water that gives it a slightly bitter flavor and makes it a perfect drink for a lot of people, with a twist of lemon. Quinine was traditionally used as a method of treatment for malaria, arthritis, and nocturnal leg cramps. However, after discovering that quinine could cause conditions such as arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), lowered platelet count, and even hypersensitivity to other drugs, this drug was banned by the FDA for the treatment of leg cramps. Having heard this, a lot of you may now be concerned about whether having tonic water may be safe at all. The answer is almost a yes, because the quinine in tonic water is of a small amount, and can hardly do any damage if consumed in moderate amounts. Even so, there are some who develop side effects after drinking tonic water with quinine. This aspect has been discussed below in detail.
Is Tonic Water with Quinine Safe to Drink?
Tonic water contains less than 20 mg of quinine per six fluid ounces, which is not a very big amount for one glass. Considering that you take a small amount regularly, just for the sake of the flavor, you should ideally not be at risk. However, if you think drinking a glass of tonic water will relieve cramps, you are wrong. A lot more of quinine is required to treat cramps as well as reduce the risk of developing malaria.
Having said this, some people can develop allergic reactions to quinine almost instantly, that show up in the form of certain side effects. These include rashes, hives, and swelling of the tongue and mouth. In a serious case, it is likely that the swelling increases to a point where breathing may be difficult. Further, those who are allergic to quinine in tonic water have also reported problems such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea as well as severe stomach cramps. If tonic water is consumed in the traditional gin and tonic or vodka and tonic in excessive amounts, it is possible that the alcohol may cause these side effects to flare up further. Finally, consuming tonic water in excess may also cause hyperactivity and restlessness.
For some, tonic water may be safe. For others, even a drop may be dangerous as certain cases have been reported on immediate skin reactions and lowered platelet count after consuming tonic water.
If you have been drinking tonic water for a while and are still in the pink of health, you probably have nothing to worry about. However, those of you wishing to take the first sip should first ideally consult your doctor to find out whether you are sensitive to quinine, and whether even that small amount is going to affect your body. Because the amount of quinine in tonic water is so little, it has not been banned by the FDA. There are also 'no quinine' brands of tonic water available if you are one of those who cannot tolerate quinine.
Tonic water with quinine may be unsafe if you are on some kind of medication. It is likely that the quinine may interact with the other drugs and result in some very dangerous side effects. For instance, those on blood thinning medication should avoid the consumption of tonic water. Also, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid its consumption or should consult their doctors regarding drinking tonic water. If you notice any kind of side effects upon drinking tonic water with quinine, you should visit your doctor immediately.
Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informational purposes only and does not, in any way, claim the safety of drinking tonic water with quinine. If you are doubtful, consult your doctor for the best and safest advice.