Regardless of popular belief, coca leaves are actually good for you. Yes, I said coca leaves – responsible for the additive drug we know as cocaine. Sadly, due to the ignorance towards South American cultures, stigmatization of the coca plant, and straight-up propaganda against this amazing plant, people are left scared and unable to experience the benefits that the coca leaf has to offer. Furthermore, it’s illegal to consume coca leaves in the United States. Thank god I’m currently visiting Argentina for the next few months — lucky me!
Here’s a bag of coca leaves I purchased for 10 Argentine pesos (about 2.70 USD).
Last week I went up north to an area known as Salta, Argentina. While there, I spoke to people who trace their lineage back to indigenous Inca tribes that have used coca leaves for thousands upon thousands of years. They spoke of these benefits from coca leaves:
- Coca leaves increase the amount of oxygen in your blood, allowing you to travel to high altitudes. In Argentina, it’s very mountainous, so it’s important to use coca leaves when traveling to higher regions above sea level. A bit of history: when the Spaniards conquered Argentina, they couldn’t understand why the natives had large heaps of green leaves in their mouths while working in the mountains. Since they didn’t understand it, the passed laws to make coca leaves illegal to chew. Shortly, they noticed a sharp decrease in production (they were forced to work) and in time, they realized it was because the natives were now weaker and had less energy to work because they were no longer “chewing on the green leaves.” Which brings us to what I learned next…
- Coca leaves are a mild stimulant, like coffee, but better. Why better? Because coca leaves provide your body with all sort of vitamins and nutrients like: calcium, phosphorous, iron, potassium, magnesium, sodium, ascorbic acid, etc. and vitamins A, C and E. Current research is also saying that “the coca leaf contains more proteins (19.9 per cent) than meat (19.4 per cent) and far more calcium (2,191 per cent) than condensed milk, and that it is richer in vitamin B-1 (276 per cent) than fresh carrots.”
“In spite of coca being persecuted for being the raw material of cocaine, scientists discovered that the sap in its leaves contains more then ten different alkaloid substances, and that cocaine strictly speaking amounts to less than 1% of that total. According to pharmacological studies carried out at the University of Caldas, Colombia, if consumed in its natural form, the leaf is not toxic and doesn’t produce dependency. It acts like a mild stimulant, improving attention and the coordination of ideas, akin to concentrated coffee.”<cite=”http://www.comunidadesegura.org/?q=en/node/35426”> – University of Caldas, Colombia
- Coca leaves are also used to prevent the absorption of alcohol. Put simply, if you pack about 20 coca leaves in your mouth and suck on the juices for an hour before preparing to drink all night, you’re going to be able to drink a lot without getting totally wasted and having a nasty hangover the next day. Pretty sweet, eh?
- I was also told that coca leaves curb your appetite. This is good for all you people on a diet or trying to lose weight. You may want to give coca leaves a shot instead of popping all those poisonous diet pills advertised left and right.
Now how do you use coca leaves?
Well, it’s pretty darn simple.
- Step 1: Get a hold of 15 – 30 coca leaves. If you’re in South America, that’ll be easy. If you’re in the United States, you’ll have to get creative. But trust me, it’s possible to get some if you think about it…. Now, tear off the little stem of the leaf. This is done so you don’t scratch your mouth.
- Step 2: Start placing the leaves on the side of your mouth, right against your cheek wall, between your cheek and your teeth. Yup, just pack them in there. For your first time, you may want to start with 5 or so, then slowly work you way up to 30 leaves (as they do here in Argentina!) as you become more accustomed to the leaves.
- Step 3: You basically want to continue swallowing the juice in your mouth produced by the leaves. Do this for a period of 1 hour, then discard the leaves (and repeat if you’d like). Once in a while you may want to bite on the leaves and bruise it to produce a stronger dosage of those healthy chemicals.
Demystifying the Cocaine and Coca Leaf Myth
And remember, coca leaves are not cocaine. You are not doing cocaine when consuming these leaves. You’d need, literally, pounds of coca leaves in your mouth in order to produce the effects of 1 gram of cocaine.
Disclaimer: I am not advocating the usage of coca leaves, simply sharing anecdotal information about my personal experiences with coca leaves. Please use your own judgment, consult with your authorities (local country/state laws and regulations) and doctors before consumption.