- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Angostura bitters

Related people

A substance derived from Cusparia febrifuga, a tree in the family N. O. Rutaceae. It was so-called because this tree grew at Santo Tomé de Guayana de Angostura del Orinoco, known simply as Angostura, on the Orinoco River in Venezuela. The town changed its name to Ciudad Bolivar in 1846.

The chief bitter principle of Angostura is Angosturin, a colourless crystalline substance readily soluble in water alcohol or ether. The bark also contains about 2.4 per cent of the bitter crystalline alkaloids Galipine, Cusparine, Galipidine Cusparidine and Cuspareine, about 1.5 per cent of volatile oil and a glucoside, which yields a fluorescent substance when hydrolysed by heating with dilute sulphuric acid.

The bark has long been known and used by the natives of South America and West Indies as a stimulant tonic. In large doses it causes diarrhoea and is often used as a purgative. Most useful in bilious diarrhoea, dysentery, and diseases which require a tonic. The natives also employ it to stupefy fish in the same manner as Cinchona is used by the Peruvians. Some doctors preferred Angostura Bark to Cinchona for use in fever cases. It is also used in dropsy.

Commercially angustura is an ingredient of bitter liqueurs and the name of a bitter, aromatic spirits produced in Trinidad. It was originally used as a febrifuge and appetizer, now it is mostly used as an ingredient in cocktails. Don’t get bitter.

We thank Shaunette Babb for information submitted.

What is an eponym?

An eponym is a word derived from the name of a person, whether real or fictional. A medical eponym is thus any word related to medicine, whose name is derived from a person.

What is Whonamedit?

Whonamedit.com is a biographical dictionary of medical eponyms. It is our ambition to present a complete survey of all medical phenomena named for a person, with a biography of that person.


Whonamedit? does not give medical advice.
This survey of medical eponyms and the persons behind them is meant as a general interest site only. No information found here must under any circumstances be used for medical purposes, diagnostically, therapeutically or otherwise. If you, or anybody close to you, is affected, or believe to be affected, by any condition mentioned here: see a doctor.