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The works resembles a blackthorn shrub, and grows to a tallness of 2-3 m ( 7-10A foot ) . The subdivisions are consecutive, and the foliages, which have a green shade, are thin, opaque, egg-shaped, and taper at the appendages. A pronounced feature of the foliage is an areolated part bounded by two longitudinal curved lines, one line on each side of the midvein, and more conspicuous on the under face of the foliage.

The flowers are little, and disposed in small bunchs on short chaffs ; the corolla is composed of five yellow-white petals, the anthers are cordate, and the pistil consists of three carpels united to organize a three-chambered ovary. The flowers mature into ruddy berries.

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The foliages are sometimes eaten by the larvae of the moth Eloria noyesi.

Speciess and categorization

There are 12 chief species and assortments. Two races, Erythroxylum coca volt-ampere. coca and Erythroxylum coca volt-ampere. ipadu, are about identical phenotypically ; a related high cocaine-bearing species has two races, Erythroxylum novogranatense volt-ampere. novogranatense and Erythroxylum novogranatense volt-ampere. truxillense that are phenotypically similar, but morphologically distinguishable. Under the older Cronquist system of sorting blooming workss, this was placed in an order Linales ; more modern systems place it in the order Malpighiales.


Coca is traditionally cultivated in the lower heights of the eastern inclines of the Andes ( the Yungas ) , or the Highlandss depending on the species grown. Since ancient times, its foliages have been an of import trade trade good between the Lowlandss where it is grown and the higher heights where it is widely consumed by the Andean peoples of Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia and northwesterly Argentina.

Fresh samples of the dried foliages are uncurled, are of a deep viridity on the upper, and a gray-green on the lower surface, and have a strong tea-like olfactory property. When chewed, they produce a enjoyable numbness in the oral cavity, and have a pleasant, acrid gustatory sensation. They are traditionally chewed with calcium hydroxide to increase the release of the active ingredients from the foliage. Older species have a camphoraceous odor and a chocolate-brown colour, and lack the pungent gustatory sensation.

The seeds are sown from December to January in little secret plans ( almacigas ) sheltered from the Sun, and the immature workss when at 40-60cm in tallness are placed in concluding planting holes ( aspi ) , or if the land is flat, in furrows ( uachos ) in carefully weeded dirt. The workss thrive best in hot, moist and humid locations, such as the glades of woods ; but the foliages most preferable are obtained in dry countries, on the hillsides. The foliages are gathered from workss changing in age from one and a half to upwards of 40 old ages, but merely the new fresh growing is harvested. They are considered ready for tweaking when they break on being set. The first and most abundant crop is in March after the rainy season, the 2nd is at the terminal of June, and the 3rd in October or November. The green foliages ( matu ) are spread in thin beds on coarse woollen fabrics and dried in the Sun ; they are so packed in pokes, which must be kept dry in order to continue the quality of the foliages.

Pharmacological facets

The pharmacologically active ingredient of coca is the alkaloid cocaine, which is found in the sum of approximately 0.3 to 1.5 % , averaging 0.8 % [ 1 ] , in fresh foliages. Besides cocaine, the coca foliage contains a figure of other alkaloids, including methylecgonine cinnamate, benzoylecgonine, truxilline, hydroxytropacocaine, tropacocaine, ecgonine, cuscohygrine, dihydrocuscohygrine, nicotine and hygrine. When chewed, coca Acts of the Apostless as a mild stimulation and suppresses hungriness, thirst, hurting, and weariness.

Absorption of cocaine from the foliage is much less rapid and efficient than from the purified signifiers of cocaine, and it does non do the euphoric and psychotropic effects associated with usage of the drug. Some advocates have claimed that cocaine itself is non an active ingredient when unrefined coca foliage is chewed or brewed as an extract. However, surveies have shown that little but mensurable sums of cocaine are present in the blood stream after ingestion of coca tea. Addiction or other hurtful effects from the ingestion of the foliage in its natural signifier have non been documented.


Traces of coca have been found in mas dating 3000 old ages back. Extensive archaeological grounds for the mastication of coca leaves dates back at least to the 6th century A.D. Moche period, and the subsequent Inca period, based on mas found with a supply of coca foliages, clayware picturing the characteristic cheek bump of a coca chewer, spatulas for pull outing base and figured bags for coca foliages and calcium hydroxide made from cherished metals, and gilded representations of coca in particular gardens of the Inca in Cuzco Coca mastication may originally hold been limited to the eastern Andes before its debut to the Incas. As the works was viewed as holding a Godhead beginning, its cultivation became capable to a province monopoly and its usage restricted to Lords and a few favorite categories ( tribunal speechmakers, messengers, favored public workers, and the ground forces ) by the regulation of the Topa Inca ( 1471-1493 ) . As the Incan imperium declined, the foliage became more widely available. After some deliberation, Philip II of Spain issued a decree acknowledging the drug as indispensable to the wellbeing of the Andean Indians but pressing missionaries to stop its spiritual usage. The Spanish are believed to hold efficaciously encouraged usage of coca by an increasing bulk of the population to increase their labour end product and tolerance for famishment, but it is non clear that this was planned intentionally.

Coca was foremost introduced to Europe in the sixteenth century, but did non go popular until the mid-19th century, with the publication of an influential paper by Dr. Paolo Mantegazza praising its stimulating effects on knowledge. This led to innovation of cocawine and the first production of pure cocaine. Cocawine ( of which Vin Mariani was the best-known trade name ) and other coca-containing readyings were widely sold as patent medical specialties and quinine waters, with claims of a broad assortment of wellness benefits. The original version of Coca-cola was among these. These merchandises became illegal in most states outside of South America in the early twentieth century, after the habit-forming nature of cocaine was widely recognized. In 1859, Albert Niemann of the University of Gottingen became the first individual to insulate the main alkaloid of coca, which he named “ cocaine. ”

In recent times ( 2007 ) , the authoritiess of several South American states, such as Peru, Bolivia and Venezuela, have defended and championed the traditional usage of coca, every bit good as the modern utilizations of the foliage and its infusions in family merchandises such as teas and toothpaste.

Traditional medical utilizations

Traditional medical utilizations of coca are foremost as a stimulation to get the better of weariness, hungriness, and thirst. It is considered peculiarly effectual against height illness. It besides is used as an anaesthetic to relieve the hurting of concern, rheumatism, lesions and sores, etc. Before stronger anesthetics were available, it besides was used for broken castanetss, childbearing, and during trephining operations on the skull. Because cocaine constricts blood vass, the action of coca besides serves to oppose hemorrhage, and coca seeds were used for epistaxiss. Autochthonal usage of coca has besides been reported as a intervention for malaria, ulcers, asthma, to better digestion, to guard against intestine laxness, as an aphrodisiac, and credited with bettering length of service. Modern surveies have supported a figure of these medical applications.


Coca has besides been a critical portion of the spiritual cosmology of the Andean peoples of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and northern Argentina and Chile from the pre-Inca period through the present. They follow the devising and idolize the coca beans when they are ready. Coca leaves play a important portion in offerings to the Apus ( mountains ) , Inti ( the Sun ) , or Pachamama ( the Earth ) . Coca foliages are besides frequently read in a signifier of divination correspondent to reading tea foliages in other civilizations. As one illustration of the many traditional beliefs about coca, it is believed by the mineworkers of Cerro de Pasco to soften the venas of ore, if masticated ( chewed ) and thrown upon them

Traditional readying

Traditionally, coca foliages are prepared either as a chaw or as a tea ( mate de coca ) .


The activity of masticating coca is called mambear, chacchar or acullicar, borrowed from Quechua, coquear ( northern Argentina ) , or in Bolivia, picchar, derived from the Aymara linguistic communication. The Spanish masticar is besides often used, along with the slang term “ bolear, ” derived from the word “ bolo tie ” or ball of coca pouched in the cheek while masticating. Typical coca ingestion is about two ounces per twenty-four hours, and modern-day methods are believed to be unchanged from ancient times. Coca is kept in a woven pouch ( chuspa or huallqui ) . A few foliages are chosen to organize a British pound ( acullico ) held between the oral cavity and gums. Making so normally causes users to experience a prickling and blunting esthesis in their oral cavities. ( The common dental anesthetic Novocaine has a similar consequence. ) Chewing coca foliages is most common in autochthonal communities across the cardinal Andean part, peculiarly in topographic points like the Highlandss of Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru, where the cultivation and ingestion of coca is every bit much a portion of the national civilization similar to chicha, like vino is to France or beer is to Germany. It besides serves as a powerful symbol of autochthonal cultural and spiritual individuality, amongst a diverseness of autochthonal states throughout South America. Bulk bags of coca foliages are sold in local markets and by street sellers.

Erythroxylon coca is still chewed in the traditional manner, with a bantam measure of ilucta ( a readying of the ashes of the quinoa works ) added to the coca leaves ; it softens their acerb spirit and activates the alkaloids. Other names for this basifying substance are llipta in Peru and the Spanish word lejia, lye in English. The consumer carefully uses a wooden stick ( once frequently a spatula of cherished metal ) to reassign an alkalic constituent into the British pound without touching his flesh with the caustic substance. The alkali constituent, normally kept in a calabash ( ishcupuro or poporo ) , can be made by firing limestone to organize unslaked calcium oxide, firing quinoa chaffs, or the bark from certain trees, and may be called ilipta, tocra or mambe depending on its composing. Many of these stuffs are salty in spirit, but there are fluctuations. The most common base in the La Paz country of Bolivia is a merchandise known as lejia dulce ( sweet lye ) , which is made from quinoa ashes assorted with anise seed and cane sugar, organizing a soft black putty with a sweet and delighting spirit. In some topographic points, baking sodium carbonate is used under the name bico.

In the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia, coca is consumed by the Kogi, Arhuaco and Wiwa by utilizing a particular device called poporo. The poporo is the grade of manhood. It represents the uterus and the stick is a phallic symbol. The motions of the stick in the poporo typify the sexual act. For a adult male the poporo is a good comrade that means “ nutrient ” , “ adult female ” , “ memory ” and “ speculation ” . Womans are prohibited from utilizing coca. It is of import to emphasize that poporo is the symbol of manhood. But it is the adult female who gives work forces their manhood. When the male child is ready to be married, his female parent will originate him in the usage of the coca. This act of induction is carefully supervised by the mamma, a traditional priest-teacher-leader.

Coca tea, besides called mate de coca, is a tisane ( herbal tea ) made utilizing the foliages of the coca works ; typically the natural foliages of the works. It is made either by submersing the coca foliage or dunking a tea bag in hot H2O. The tea originates from the Andes mountain scope, peculiarly Bolivia, Equador and Peru.

The foliages of the coca works contain several alkaloids including cocaine ; in fact, they comprise the beginnings for cocaine ‘s chemical production, though the sum of cocaine in the foliages is so little, around 0.4 % , that in order to do a gm of cocaine, 250 gms of coca foliages would be needed. A cup of coca tea prepared from one gm of coca foliages contains about 4.21A milligrams of cocaine.

Owing to the presence of the stimulating alkaloids, the coca tea provides a stimulation similar to coffee. The tea is frequently sold commercially in filtrating bags, each of which normally contains about one gm of the foliage. As java can be decaffeinated, the coca tea can besides be decocainized. Just like “ decaf ” java does retain a minute measure of caffeine, “ de-cocainated ” coca tea will still incorporate a infinitesimal measure of the drug. When the cocaine is removed, the sum of cocaine is little plenty for the merchandise to lawfully sell in the USA harmonizing to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. In the 1980s the tea was used to ablactate cocaine nuts off the drug.

The coca works comprises four chief species and assortments of Erythroxylum coca ( frequently spelled koka in Quechua and Aymara ) , a works in the household Erythroxylaceae, native to northwesterly South America.

Though besides known as mate, mate de coca has really small in common with the mate of yerba mate drink in Uruguay and Argentina. Mate de coca is ever drink as a tea, instead than through a straw.

Commercial and industrial utilizations

In the Andes commercially manufactured coca teas, granola bars, cookies, difficult confects, etc. are available in most shops and supermarkets, including upscale suburban supermarkets. [ commendation needed ]

Coca is used industrially in the cosmetics and nutrient industries. A de-cocainized infusion of coca foliage is reportedly one of the flavorer ingredients in Coca-Cola.

Coca tea is produced industrially from coca foliages in South America by a figure of companies, including Enaco S.A. ( National Company of the Coca ) a authorities endeavor in Peru. Coca foliages are besides found in a trade name of herbal cordial called “ Agwa de Bolivia ” ( grown in Bolivia and de-cocainized in Amsterdam ) , and a natural flavorer ingredient in Red Bull Cola, that was launched in March 2008.

New markets

Get downing in the early twenty-first century, there has been a motion in Bolivia, Peru, and Venezuela to advance and spread out legal markets for the harvest. The presidents of these three states have personally identified with this motion. In peculiar, Evo Morales of Bolivia ( elected in December 2005 ) was a coca agriculturists brotherhood leader. Morales asserts that “ la coca no Es cocaina ” -the coca foliage is non cocaine. During his address to the General Assembly of the United Nations on September 19, 2006, he held a coca foliage in his manus to show its innocuity.

Alan Garcia, president of Peru, has recommended its usage in salads and other comestible readyings. A Peruvian-based company has announced programs to market a modern version of Vin Mariani, which will be available in both natural and de-cocainized assortments.

In Venezuela, president Hugo Chavez said in a address on January 2008 that he chews coca every twenty-four hours, and that his “ hook up ” is Bolivian president Evo Morales. Chavez reportedly said “ I chew coca every twenty-four hours in the forenoon… and look how I am ” before demoing his biceps to his audience, the Venezuelan National Assembly.

On the other manus, the Colombian authorities has late moved in the opposite way. For old ages, Bogota has allowed autochthonal coca husbandmans to sell coca merchandises, advancing the endeavor as one of the few successful commercial chances available to recognized folks like the Nasa, who have grown it for old ages and see it as sacred. In December 2005, the Paeces, a Tierradentro ( Cauca ) autochthonal community, started in December to bring forth a carbonated soft drink called “ Coca Sek ” . The production method belongs to the resguardos of Calderas ( Inza ) and takes about 150A kilograms of coca per 3,000 produced bottles. The drink was ne’er sold widely in Colombia, the attempts to make so ended in May 2007 when it was suddenly banned by the Colombian authorities.

Coca Colla is an energy drink which is produced in Boliva with the usage of coca infusion as its base. It was launched on the Bolivian market in La Paz, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba in mid-April 2010.

Legal position

Coca foliage is the natural stuff for the industry of the drug cocaine, a powerful stimulation and anesthetic extracted chemically from big measures of coca foliages. Today, since it has largely been replaced as a medical anesthetic by man-made parallels such as Ethocaine, cocaine is best known as an illegal recreational drug. The cultivation, sale, and ownership of unrefined coca foliage ( but non of any processed signifier of cocaine ) is by and large legal in the states – such as Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Argentina – where traditional usage is established, although cultivation is frequently restricted in an effort to forestall the production of cocaine.

The prohibition of the usage of the coca foliage except for medical or scientific intents was established by the United Nations in the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The coca foliage is listed on Schedule I of the 1961 Single Convention together with cocaine and diacetylmorphine. The Convention determined that “ The Parties shall so far as possible enforce the uprooting of all coca shrubs which grow wild. They shall destruct the coca shrubs if illicitly cultivated ” ( Article 26 ) , and that, “ Coca foliage mastication must be abolished within 25 old ages from the coming into force of this Convention ”

The principle for including the coca foliage in the 1961 Single Convention is chiefly rooted in a study requested of the United Nations by the lasting representative of Peru that was prepared by a committee that visited Bolivia and Peru briefly in 1949 to “ look into the effects of masticating the coca foliage and the possibilities of restricting its production and commanding its distribution. ” The Commission of Enquiry on the Coca Leaf survey, published in 1950, concluded that the effects of masticating coca foliages were negative, even though masticating coca was defined as a wont, non an dependence.

The study was aggressively criticised for its flightiness, deficiency of preciseness and racialist intensions. The squad members ‘ professional makings and parallel involvements were besides criticised, as were the methodological analysis used and the uncomplete choice and usage of bing scientific literature on the coca foliage. Nowadays, a similar survey would ne’er go through the examination and critical reappraisal to which scientific surveies are routinely subjected.

Despite the legal limitation, coca mastication and imbibing of coca tea is carried out daily by 1000000s of people in the Andes every bit good as considered sacred within autochthonal civilizations. They claim that most of the information provided about the traditional usage of the coca foliage and its modern versions are erroneous. This has made it impossible to cast visible radiation on the works ‘s positive facets and its possible benefits for the physical, mental and societal wellness of the people who consume and cultivate it.

In an effort to obtain legal acknowledgment for the traditional usage of coca, Peru and Bolivia negotiated paragraph 2 of Article 14 into the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, qualifying that steps to eliminate illicit cultivation and to extinguish illicit demand “ should take due history of traditional licit usage, where there is historic grounds of such usage. ” Bolivia besides made a formal reserve to the 1988 Convention, which required states to follow steps to set up the usage, ingestion, ownership, purchase or cultivation of the coca foliage for personal ingestion as a condemnable offense. Bolivia stated that “ the coca foliage is non, in and of itself, a narcotic drug or psychotropic substance ” and stressed that its “ legal system recognizes the hereditary nature of the licit usage of the coca foliage, which, for much of Bolivia ‘s population, dates back over centuries. ”

However, the International Narcotics Control Board ( INCB ) – the independent and quasi-judicial control organ for the execution of the United Nations drug conventions – denied the cogency of article 14 in the 1988 Convention over the demands of the 1961 Convention, or any reserve made by parties, since it does non “ shrive a party of its rights and duties under the other international drug control pacts. ”

In recent old ages the current legal position of the coca foliage is more and more questioned. Even the INCB stated in its 1994 Annual Report that “ copulate de coca, which is considered harmless and legal in several states in South America, is an illegal activity under the commissariats of both the 1961 Convention and the 1988 Convention, though that was non the purpose of the plenipotentiary conferences that adopted those conventions. ” It implicitly besides dismissed the original study of the Commission of Enquiry on the Coca Leaf by acknowledging that “ there is a demand to set about a scientific reappraisal to measure the coca-chewing wont and the imbibing of coca tea. ”

However, the INCB on other occasions did non demo marks of an increased sensitiveness towards the Bolivian claim on the rights of their autochthonal population, and the general populace, to devour the coca foliage in a traditional mode by masticating the foliage, and even goes every bit far as to see imbibing coca tea, as “ non in line with the commissariats of the 1961 Convention. ” The Board considered Bolivia, Peru and a few other states that allow such practises to be in breach with their pact duties, and insisted that “ each party to the Convention should set up as a condemnable offense, when committed deliberately, the ownership and purchase of coca foliage for personal ingestion. ”

In reaction to the 2007 Annual Report of the INCB, the Bolivian authorities announced that it would officially publish a petition to the United Nations to unschedule the coca foliage of List 1 of the 1961 UN Single Convention.

Legal position by state

Outside of South America, most states ‘ Torahs make no differentiation between the coca foliage and any other substance incorporating cocaine, so the ownership of coca foliage ( except for de-cocainized foliage ) is prohibited.

In the Netherlands, coca foliage is lawfully in the same class as cocaine, both are List I drugs of the Opium Law. The Opium Law specifically mentions the foliage of the workss of the genus Erythroxylon. However, the ownership of life workss of the genus Erythroxylon are non actively prosecuted, even though they are lawfully out.

In the United States, a Stepan Company works in Maywood, New Jersey has the lone licence to lawfully import coca foliage. The company manufactures pure cocaine for medical usage and besides produces a cocaine-free infusion of the coca foliage, which is used as a flavoring ingredient in Coca-Cola. Harmonizing to the Bolivian imperativeness, Coca-Cola lawfully imported 204 dozenss of coca foliage in 1996.

Since the 1980s, the states in which coca is grown have come under political and economic force per unit area from the United States to curtail the cultivation of the harvest, in order to cut down the supply of cocaine on the international market.

Article 26 of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs requires states that allow the cultivation of coca to denominate an bureau to modulate said cultivation and take physical ownership of the harvests every bit shortly as possible after crop, and to destruct all coca which grows natural state or is illicitly cultivated. The attempt to implement these commissariats, referred to as coca obliteration, has involved many schemes, runing from aerial crop-dusting of weedkillers on coca harvests to assistance and inducements to promote husbandmans to turn alternate harvests.

This attempt has been politically controversial, with advocates claiming that the production of cocaine is several times the sum needed to fulfill legal demand, and deducing that the huge bulk of the coca harvest is destined for the illegal market, which non merely contributes to the major societal job of drug maltreatment, but besides financially supports insurrectionist groups that collaborate with drug sellers in some cocaine-producing districts. Critics of the attempt claim that it creates hardship chiefly for the coca agriculturists, many of whom are hapless and have no feasible alternate manner to do a life, causes environmental jobs, that it is non effectual in cut downing the supply of cocaine, in portion because cultivation can travel to other countries, and that any societal injury created by drug maltreatment is merely made worse by the war on drugs.

More late, coca has been reintroduced to the United States as a flavorer agent in the herbal cordial Agwa.

The Brain on Cocaine

These two images of the encephalon are positron emanation imaging ( PET ) scans of a normal individual ( image on the left ) and of a individual on cocaine ( image on the right ) . The PET scan shows encephalon map by seeing how the encephalon uses glucose, the energy beginning for nerve cells. In these scans, the ruddy colour shows high usage of glucose, yellow shows medium usage and blue shows the least usage of glucose. Notice that many countries of the encephalon of the cocaine user do non utilize glucose every bit efficaciously as the encephalon of the normal individual. This can be observed by the lower sums of ruddy in the right PET scan.

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