The leaves of the coca plant are chewed socially throughout the South American andes as a stimulant and to protect against the effects of high elevation
From The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances by Richard Rudgley:
According to archaic indigenous beliefs, coca 'chewing' is essentially harmless. This was given a modern scientific vindication by the Peruvian pharmacologist, Fernando Cabieses Molina, who wote just after the end of the Second World War that traditional coca consumption has certain features that distinguish it markedly from cocaine abuse. The amount of the cocaine alkaloid is, of course, far lower than in chemically pure extracts from the plant. By introducing the coca leaf orally its psychoactive properties are absorbed slowly and without ill effects by the digestive system. It is a stimulant and used to suppress hunger, to increase physical endurance and, in the Andes, to help cope with high altitudes. Distinguished visitors to Bolivia, including Pope John Paul II and Princess Anne have drunk coca tea (mate de coca) as it is the traditional way of avoiding altitude sickness. Impartial and scientific investigations have shown that regular use of coca is not harmful and no major social problems are known to have resulted from its traditional, and milennia-long, use in the Andes. This contradicts the claims of its ill-effects contained in reports by the United Nations and other official bodies, which seem to be based more on prejudice, ethnocentric bias, and the desire to portray the natural source of cocaine as negatively as possible in order to justify plans for eradicating coca in its homeland.
Coca leaves are not actually "chewed", but are mixed with lime and held in the mouth. The alkaline lime increases absorption of the cocaine, and is a common pharmacological strategy in indigenous cultures throughout the world.
Contacts and URLs:
- Erowid (homepage, more info)
"Documenting the Complex Relationship between Humans and Psychoactives"
- Hedonistic Imperative (homepage, more info)
Entry point for an eclectic group of sites with information and opinions on many things, including drugs.
- King's American Dispensatory (homepage, more info)
Excellent reference for plants and preparations
- Peru Connections (homepage, more info)
Online resource for Peruvian culture, travel, and products, etc.
- Peru Herbals (homepage, more info)
Supplier of a diverse range of plants and fruits, including mate coca
- Miscellaneous URLs
|Created 3/23/2000 1:20:14|
Modified 9/8/2000 18:56:39
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