Traditional Medicinal Uses of Coca Leaf

When a person from Lima reaches the Mantaro Valley, the altitude, a dizzying 10,800 feet above sea level, can cause her to suffer what the locals call “soroche” – otherwise known as altitude sickness.

The effects are not pleasant.  Dizziness, nausea, headache, cold sweat are the symptoms of this disease.  The sufferer is advised to consume coca tea to better acclimatize to the altitude, a traditional remedy for altitude sickness that no pharmaceutical medicine can relieve as much as simple cup of tea (or two). In the highlands of Peru its consumption is common and those that live there know that there is a great difference between the coca leaf and cocaine, or any drug that is derived from its processing.

So much has been discovered about the medicinal and therapeutic use of the coca leaf in South America, but these applications are largely unknown in the Western world. The purpose of this article is to let you know what other benefits are attributed to this product.

The scientific name for the coca plant is Erythroxylum coca and it is used in complementary or community medicine in all the countries of South America it is grown. It serves as a pain reliever to soothe toothaches, rheumatic problems and headaches. Likewise, it is also used as an antispasmodic for colic-type pains in patients, it reduces this type of discomfort without the need for chemical medicine. It also fights fatigue and reduces hunger.

A prominent Peruvian doctor, Fernando Rojas Tapia states that it is very common to consume it as an infusion. “We know that there are alternative preparations, but we always recommend that it be used as an infusion. Soaking a few leaves and drinking it as tea. Furthermore, this has become part of a folkloric and ancestral treatment in the area. It helps to improve not just ailments, but promote health in general ”, commented the specialist.

Coca Leaf And Athletic Performance

it is well known in Peru that Coca leaf improves athletic performance. It improves the power and resistance to fatigue of the athlete.  It takes effect quickly, with the effects lasting for several hours.

Medicinal Use Of The Coca Leaf

We sought the opinion of a coca leaf merchant, José Flores (68), who said that the use of the leaf should not be demonized, whether it be “chewed” or in infusions.

“In ancient times, peasants used it for hunger and to give them physical strength for work and agricultural activities. Now consumption has dropped due to the generational change and young people do not see it as a medicinal option. When left to macerate it is drunk as a pure mate de coca.” said José, who is a former military man and has been selling coca tea in local Peruvian markets for 38 years.