Coca Leaves; The uses in the Present and in the Past
Coca leaves have been chewed and brewed for tea traditionally for centuries among its indigenous people in the Andean region – not causing any harm, rather being beneficial to human health.
A traditional method of chewing coca leaf, called chacchar or acullico, consists of keeping a saliva-soaked ball of coca leaves in the mouth together with an alkaline substance that assists in extracting the cocaine substance from the leaves.
When chewed, coca acts as a mild stimulant and suppresses hunger, thirst, pain, and fatigue. It also helps overcome altitude sickness and helps ease stomach pain. Therefore coca chewing and drinking of coca tea is carried out daily by millions of people in the Andes without problems, and is considered sacred within indigenous cultures. Coca tea is widely used, even outside the Andean Amazon region. The Coca plant has an established use spread among all social classes, as a result there is an increasing use of coca flour and coca products as a food supplement.
The use of coca leaves is a millennial tradition especially relevant throughout the Andean Region. Coca since ancient times was a mythical and sacred plant, used in rituals for more than 40 centuries. Until modern times it is still an indispensable component of sacred worship.