Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Cultural Bit: The Coca Leaf

Coca leaf and coca candy offering

The coca plant is an indigenous plant of the Andes, particularly in Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru. It has been used in ceremonies, as currency, and for various medicinal purposes over the years. The coca leaf can be added to hot water to drink as a tea, chewed, or chemically altered to form the drug we know as ´cocaine´. 

Cup of hot coca tea 

Common uses: 
-Coca often drinken as a tea to aid in high altitude sickness. While some people aren´t effected by this at all, those who do experience some symptoms can easily find this plant to help. Whereas the high altitude pills may have other symtoms, it may also be something to consider taking.(Altitude Sickness and Side Effects of Diamox)

-Coca is a stimulant, and may give similar effects like drinking coffee 

- Often workers chew the coca leaf to overcome hunger or thirst. Because of the active alkaloids, if coca leafs are chewed frequently, chewer´s teeth with maintain a bright whiteness.  

-Chewing coca leafs can also give off an anesthetic feeling. It may be used to relieve minor pains, such as head-, tooth- or backaches.

-The coca leaf is also a great source of Calcium and Vitamin A.

Fun facts: 

Traces of coca have been found in mummies dating 3000 years back. Other evidence dates the communal chewing of coca with lime 8000 years back 

Coca Cola used small quantities of coca for its beverages until government policies changed in 1906.

More readings:
Coca Leaf: Myths and Reality
Coca Leaves
The War on Coca Leaves Redux
The Wonders of the Coca Leaf

No comments:

Post a Comment