Latin: Erythroxylum coca
Parts Used: Leaves
Taste/Energetics: Bitter, pungent
Properties: Stimulant, analgesic,
Actions: Sometimes its amazing to think that a small plant could spawn multi-billion dollar drug cartels, untold pain, addiction and violence, guerilla wars and international efforts to eradicate it. As a strong stimulant, the active alkaloid cocaine has been processed from coca leaf and is the second most common recreational drug found throughout the world (after marijuana). Cocaine is so popular that hundreds of billions of pounds of this substance are processed and sold yearly. Cocaine tends to increase strong feelings of pleasure, energy, stamina, increases libido and heart rate. Cocaine acts for only a short period of time (15-90 minutes) and is highly addictive and damaging with prolonged use.
The coca leaf on the other hand has long been used by South Americans to improve energy levels, reduce fatigue, hunger and to ward off altitude sickness with no deleterious effect. Generally it is chewed along with lime in order to make it more bioavailable. Coca leaf is also highly nutrient rich and has analgesic properties.
This is obviously a much abused plant that is illegal here in the states so is not something that would be commonly available. Like other stimulants, the raw leaf could be helpful for those needing symptomatic relief of fatigue.
Dosage: When coca leaves are processed into cocaine, a typical “line” of coke has about 20-30 mg of the cocaine alkaloid. Compare that to a gram of leaf that contains about 4.2 mg of cocaine. When made into a tea of 1-3 grams infused in hot water for 15 minutes, the total cocaine alkaloid is relatively small and is also offset by other constituents so that the overall effect is not excessive. Traditionally, leaves are chewed for their stimulant effect as well. Like most substances, the problem comes when we refine and process plants to extract their most potent constituents and then consume them regularly in large amounts.
Contraindications: Umm, its illegal. Also, avoid when taking other stimulant drugs, if one has hypertension, if pregnant.