coca

Coca Leaves

Overview

Coca leaves are derived from the coca plant, native to the Andean regions of South America. Its leaves have a long history of use in traditional Andean culture. They were used in religious rituals, social ceremonies, and as plant medicine. Coca is known worldwide for its psychoactive alkaloid, cocaine.

Experience

Chewing coca leaves or drinking them in tea can lead to mild stimulation and a sense of alertness. It’s traditionally used to combat fatigue, hunger, and thirst.

Effects

Mild StimulationUsers often experience increased alertness, energy, and a reduction in fatigue. This is one of the primary reasons for their traditional use by Andean people, especially to combat fatigue during long periods of work or travel.
Appetite SuppressionKnown to suppress hunger and thirst. This effect has historically been beneficial for people living in the high-altitude regions of the Andes, where coca leaves are commonly used.
Enhanced EnduranceThey can enhance physical endurance, which is particularly useful in the high-altitude, physically demanding environments of the Andes.
Altitude Sickness ReliefThe plant is commonly used to alleviate symptoms of altitude sickness, such as nausea, dizziness, and headaches. This is particularly valuable in the mountainous regions of South America where altitude sickness is common.
Mood ElevationSome users report a sense of well-being or euphoria when consuming coca leaves. This is a more subtle effect compared to the high produced by refined cocaine.
Enhanced ConcentrationThey can improve focus and concentration, making them a tool for mental tasks and prolonged periods of concentration.
Analgesic EffectsThey have mild analgesic properties, helping to relieve pain, which can be useful for headaches or minor bodily aches.
Potential Diuretic EffectsCoca leaves may have diuretic properties, promoting urine production.
Social and Cultural SignificanceIn indigenous Andean communities, the act of chewing the leaves is also a social activity, fostering a sense of community and connection among participants.

How to

  • Chewing (Mambeo or Aculllico): This is the most common method of consuming coca leaves, especially in the Andean regions. The leaves are typically chewed with a small amount of an alkaline substance, like lime or bicarbonate, which helps release the active alkaloids from the leaves. The leaves and the alkaline substance are kept in the mouth and chewed slowly, not swallowed, to extract the juice.
  • Coca Tea (Mate de Coca): The leaves can be brewed into tea. This is a popular method of consumption, especially for those seeking relief from altitude sickness. The leaves are steeped in hot water, similar to making herbal tea, and then consumed as a drink.
  • Coca Flour (Harina de Coca): The leaves can be ground into a fine powder or flour, which can be used in various ways, including as a supplement added to food or drinks.
  • Topical Applications: While less common, the leaves can also be used in poultices or topical applications for their analgesic properties.

Can you mix it with other substances? Click here for a detailed chart of safe drug combinations.

Benefits & Risks

BenefitsDependency or abuse: due to the alkaloids contained in the leaves, even if in small amounts.
cardiovascular problems and neurological effects: if excessive use.
Social Stigma: Due to their association with cocaine, the use of coca leaves might carry a social stigma, impacting users’ social and professional lives.
RisksDependency or abuse: due to the alkaloids contained in the leaves, even if in small amount.
cardiovascular problems and neurological effects: if excessive use.
Social Stigma: Due to their association with cocaine, the use of coca leaves might carry a social stigma, impacting users’ social and professional lives.

Legality

South American CountriesLegal in Peru, Bolivia & Colombia.
Illegal in Brazil & Paraguay.
International LawUnder international law, specifically the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, coca leaves are classified as a narcotic. However, countries like Bolivia have obtained exemptions recognizing the traditional and legal use of coca leaves within their territories.
United StatesCoca leaves are classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning they are illegal to produce, sell, or possess without a DEA license.
EuropeSimilar restrictions as for the USA apply in most European countries.

History & Stats


Several myths and misconceptions surround coca leaves, largely due to their association with cocaine. Understanding these myths is crucial for a balanced perspective on the cultural and historical significance of coca leaves, as well as their impact on society and health.

  • Ancient Use: The plant has been used for thousands of years in the Andes region. Ancient cultures like the Incas used them in religious ceremonies, as offerings to the gods, and for their stimulant properties to endure harsh working conditions.
  • Colonial Era: During the Spanish colonial period, the use of coca leaves was initially opposed by the colonizers but later encouraged, as it became evident that it helped indigenous labourers work longer hours, especially in silver mines.
  • 19th Century: they gained international attention in the mid-19th century when their active ingredient, cocaine, was isolated. This led to the global export of coca leaves and their use in various medicinal products.
  • Coca-Cola: One of the most famous uses of the plant was in the original formulation of Coca-Cola in the late 19th century. The drink contained an extract (though cocaine was removed from the formula early in the 20th century).
  • Drug Control: In the 20th century, concerns over the addictive nature of cocaine led to international efforts to control the leaves’ cultivation and distribution, notably through the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

Myths

Several myths and misconceptions surround coca leaves, largely due to their association with cocaine. Understanding these myths is crucial for a balanced perspective on the cultural and historical significance of coca leaves, as well as their impact on society and health.

  • They Are the Same as Cocaine: While they contain alkaloids that are used to produce cocaine, the leaves themselves have a much lower concentration of these compounds. Chewing coca leaves or drinking coca tea produces effects that are far milder than those of refined cocaine.
  • Chewing them is Highly Addictive: The addictive potential of coca leaves is significantly lower than that of cocaine.
  • They have no Medicinal Value: they have been used for centuries in traditional medicine in the Andean region. They are known to aid in digestion, help alleviate altitude sickness, and provide a source of vitamins and minerals.
  • They are Illegal Worldwide
  • Coca Leaf Cultivation is Solely for Cocaine Production: While a portion of the cultivation is diverted to illegal cocaine production, many farmers grow the plant for legal and traditional uses, such as local consumption and cultural practices.
  • Eradicating Coca Plants Will End Cocaine Production: The issue is more complex. While reducing the cultivation can impact cocaine production, it also affects communities that rely on coca for traditional and economic reasons. Alternative development and holistic approaches are needed to address the issue effectively.

It’s important to approach coca leaves with caution and understand their effects and risks. Have you had an experience with coca and need support to integrate it? Or do you plan on having one and want the best setting possible? Book a session with one of our coaches.