Many myths surround coca. Every day press accounts around the world use the word coca in their headlines, when in fact they refer to cocaine. Coca is a plant with a complex array of mineral nutrients, essential oils, and varied compounds with greater or lesser pharmacological effects - one of which happens to be the alkaloid cocaine, which in its concentrated, synthesized form is a stimulant with possible addictive properties. The coca leaf has been chewed and brewed for tea traditionally for centuries among its indigenous peoples in the Andean region and does not cause any harm and is beneficial to human health. Coca chewing and drinking of coca tea is carried out daily by millions of people in the Andes without problems, and is considered sacred within indigenous cultures.
While the coca leaf in its natural form is a harmless and mild stimulant comparable to coffee, there is no doubt that cocaine can be extracted from the coca leaf. Without coca there would be no cocaine. The 'ready extractability' of cocaine from coca leaves is currently the major argument to justify the current illegal status of the leaf.
The word "coca" comes from the Aymara language "khoka" meaning "the tree." Aymara is a disappearing language spoken by people who live in the Andes mountains of Bolivia and Peru.
Though the coca leaf has long-documented use in Andean culture as both a superfood and a medicine, a high-quality clinical study hasn't been done on the plant since 1975. Can the power packed coca leaf that's widely prohibited as the source of cocaine become the next miracle medicine to shake off its bad rep and step forward to heal the world? Coca contains significant levels of vitamins A and C, and more calcium than any other vegetable studied by the USDA. More calcium than cow's milk, more iron than spinach.
For Andean nations like Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, the chewing of coca leaf is a practice that is not just widespread but nearly universal among indigenous peoples. Recent archaeological studies show that the earliest civilization on the South American continent was founded for the sole purpose of processing coca leaf for human consumption. Later, coca played a major role in every civilization right up to the Inca Empire, which met its demise when Spanish conquistadors showed up from across the Atlantic.
Unlike the cocaine derived from it, coca leaf is not addictive at all and has never in its entire history of use caused an overdose or death of any kind. Coca is a powerful antioxidant, able to slow down the aging process and fight everything from cancer to cardiovascular disease. Besides high levels of chlorophyll, vitamins and minerals, coca leaves contain 14 different powerful alkaloids (cocaine being just one of these) that have profound medicinal action on the human organism - everything from anti-inflammation to cellular regeneration.
Like cannabis, coca leaf is a pharmacologically complex plant that has a long history of coevolution and medicinal use by humans. Coca leaf is just as medicinal, just as non-toxic and just as needed right now in a world suffering from lifestyle-related conditions that can be treated naturally.
Coca leaves first chewed 8,000 years ago
The chewing of coca leaves for medicinal purposes has long been known to be a pastime at least as old as the Inca civilization. Some have argued that coca chewing is a fairly recent historical tradition - meaning the last several centuries or a thousand years - but it's a deeply-rooted economic, social and even religious tradition in the Andes. The evidence is that the widespread use amongst the people in that part of Peru and Bolivia is a comparatively recent thing. Not so much in a household context but rather restricted to certain households of individuals and produced in a sort of public context - not individualized.
A native to western South America with over 250 varieties, the properties of this plant have been used for health and healing purposes by many ancient civilizations. Of course in our modern times we have also abused the purpose of this plant, but that is a whole other story. What we do know is that when used appropriately, this plant contains many beneficial nutritive and health properties.
Nutrition Benefits of the Coca Leaf
per 100g the leaves contained
- Carbohydrates (44.3 g)
- Protein (19.9 g)
- Fat (3.3 g)
- Fiber (14.2 g)
- Vitamin A (10,000 - 14,000 IU)
- Vitamin B1 (0.58 - 0.68 mg)
- Vitamin B2 (1.73 mg)
- Vitamin B6 (0.58 mg)
- Vitamin C (1.4 - 53 mg)
- Vitamin D (trace amounts)
- Vitamin E (16.72 mg)
- Calcium (990.18 - 1749 mg)
- Copper (1.1 mg)
- Iron (26.8 - 45.8 mg)
- Magnesium (197 - 225 mg)
- Phosphorus (637 mg)
- Zinc (2.63 - 3.8 mg)
Coca leaf has certainly been an object of controversy for centuries, and has been alternately praised and condemned. Used in its whole form, coca leaf is a fundamentally benign herbal material which provides vitamin A, riboflavin, iron and calcium, and may also help to regulate blood glucose, thus enhancing metabolism and helping to reduce the tendency toward adult onset diabetes and obesity. Coca leaf is also rich in beneficial antioxidants, including ones that help to protect the integrity of blood vessels.
1560's - When the Spanish discovered Peru they ventured into the interior of the country where they found the widespread cultivation of coca. Ignorant of the plant, its uses and its effects, the Spanish mocked its cultivation by the Peruvians, to whom the plant was considered a divine gift. Priests used the leaves in virtually all ceremonies and rituals. The leaf was so highly valued it was used as currency. Eventually Spanish laboring in the thin atmosphere of the Peruvian highlands discovered the fatigue-allaying virtues of the plant and became its users instead of its persecutors.
In 1722, Jesuit priest Father Antonio Julian published a book entitled Perla de America, in which he praised the virtues of coca and recommended it to Europeans as a more beneficial alternative to coffee and tea. Baron Ernst Von Bibra, a pioneer researcher in the field of mind-altering plants, wrote on coca in his brilliant 1855 publication Die narkotischen Genussmittel und der Mensch. In doing so he brought coca further to the attention of European the scientific and medical community.
Coca leaf's relation to global society changed forever when cocaine, the primary alkaloid in coca responsible for the leaf's invigorating effects was isolated by German chemist Albert Niemann in 1860.
Coca leaf and its stimulating alkaloid's full maturation to everyday mainstream consumption by the American public began seemingly humbly, when unknown Atlanta pharmacist Asa Griggs Chandler purchased a patent in 1891 for a formula that would become known as Coca Cola. For twenty-five years, the Coca Cola Company of Atlanta's best-selling soda provided a combined jolt of cocaine from coca leaf and a blast of caffeine from kola nut to the masses, and became popular as a stimulant par excellence. Coca Cola was enthusiastically embraced by physicians and as a health drink. In 1906, the Coca Cola Company removed the cocaine from its soda, as government policy against the drug clearly spelled the coming end of its widespread legal use. This, as it turned out, was a prudent decision. In 1922 cocaine became classified in the US as a narcotic.
Stringent international legislation prohibiting the production and possession of cocaine has for decades inhibited research into its raw material -the coca leaf.The potential of this harmless plant to provide a legal livelihood for Andean farmers has been ignored. Coca leaf has a long history as a medicine and serves as a raw material for local anesthetics and many non-pharmacological products. Understanding the wider picture of coca and its alternative uses is crucial to changing perceptions of the crop. We have evidence to indicate that the coca leaf, if liberated from the constraints of the UN conventions, may offer the Andean nations opportunities to develop local and exportable products of medicinal and nutritional value. Coca products for commercial markets only may also provide jobs and the potential for tax revenue. This paper presents the known medicinal and nutritional applications of coca and some commercial alternatives for coca production that deserve further consideration and research.
Was named back in 1885 for its two "medicinal" ingredients: extract of coca leaves and kola nuts. Just how much cocaine was originally in the formulation is hard to determine, but the drink undeniably contained some cocaine in its early days. The public attitude towards cocaine that existed as Coca-Cola's developers worked on perfecting their formula in 1891 while the first stirrings of a national debate had begun over the negative aspects of cocaine. They were anxious to continue promoting the supposed benefits of the coca leaf, but there was no reason to risk putting more than a tiny bit of coca extract in their syrup. They cut the amount to a mere trace. How much cocaine was in that "mere trace" is impossible to say, but we do know that by 1902 it was as little as 1/400 of a grain of cocaine per ounce of syrup. Coca-Cola didn't become completely cocaine-free until 1929, but there was scarcely any of the drug left in the drink by then. Infinitesimal: no more than one part in 50 million.
So, yes, at one time there was cocaine in Coca-Cola. But before you're tempted to run off claiming Coca-Cola turned generations of drinkers into dope addicts, consider the following: back in 1885 it was far from uncommon to use cocaine in patent medicines (which is what Coca-Cola was originally marketed as) and other medical potions. When it first became general knowledge that cocaine could be harmful, the backroom chemists who comprised Coca-Cola at the time (long before it became the huge company we now know) did everything they could with the technology they had available at the time to remove every trace of cocaine from the beverage. What was left behind (until the technology improved enough for it all to be removed) wasn't enough to give a fly a buzz.
20 Things You Didn't Know About Coca-Cola:
- It Was Created as an Alternative to Morphine
- Opium Free Substitute
- Its Name Was Derived From 2 Key Ingredients
- Coca Leaf and Kola Nut
- It Was Originally Alcoholic
- a Coca Wine
- It Originally Contained 9 Milligrams of Cocaine Per Glass
- a typical line is about 50 Mg
- It Still Contains Coca Leaf Extract
- non-narcotic coca leaf extract
- The Formula Is Locked in a Vault
- Only two employees know the exact formula, and they're not allowed to travel together
- Several Old Recipes Are Available
- It Stayed the Same Price From 1886 to 1959
- Five Cents
- The Logo Was Modeled After Formal Handwriting
- Called Spencerian script, it was the primary form of formal handwriting before the typwriter; Ford logo too
- The Bottle Was Modeled After the Cocoa Pod
- It Was the First Commercial Sponsor of the Olympics
- Since 1928
- It Wasn't Sold in Cans Until 1960
- Its First Diet Cola Was Tab in 1963
- New Coke Was Based on the Recipe for Diet Coke
- Just with high fructose corn syrup added instead of aspartame
- New Coke Stuck Around Until 2002
- A New Typeface Was Invented for Its "Share a Coke" Campaign
- It's Been Proven to Help Treat Gastric Phytobezoars
- There Was a Coke Dispenser Onboard the Space Shuttle
- Contrary to Popular Belief, It Won't Dissolve Teeth (or Flies) Overnight
- The Coca-Cola Company Owns Hundreds of Brands Worldwide
Coca is any of the four cultivated plants in the family Erythroxylaceae known for its psychoactive alkaloid, cocaine
- The coca plant grows to a height of 2 to 3 metres (7 to 10 feet)
- The native people use it as a stimulant
- When chewed, coca acts as a mild stimulant and suppresses hunger, thirst, pain, and fatigue.
- Coca-Cola used coca leaf extract in its products from 1885 until about 1903
- Extraction of cocaine from coca requires several solvents and a chemical process known as an acid-base extraction.
- Absorption of coca from the leaf is less rapid than nasal application of purified forms of the alkaloid (almost all of the coca alkaloid is absorbed within 20 minutes of nasal application, while it takes 2 - 12 hours after ingestion of the raw leaf for alkaline concentrations to peak.). When the raw leaf is consumed in tea, between 59 and 90% of the coca alkaloid is absorbed.
- The coca leaf, when consumed in its natural form, does not induce a physiological or psychological dependence, nor does abstinence after long-term use produce symptoms typical to substance addiction
The plant is grown as a cash crop in Argentine Northwest, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, even in areas where its cultivation is unlawful. There are some reports that the plant is being cultivated in the south of Mexico as an alternative to smuggling its recreational product cocaine.
The pharmacologically active ingredient of coca is the cocaine alkaloid, which is found in the amount of about 0.3 to 1.5%, averaging 0.8%, in fresh leaves
Ecgonine is an organic chemical and tropane alkaloid found naturally in coca leaves. It is has a close structural relation to cocaine: it is both a metabolite and a precursor, and as such, it is a controlled substance, as are all known substances which can be used as precursors to ecgonine itself.
- Found naturally in coca leaves
- It has a close structural relation to cocaine
- It is both a metabolite and a precursor
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