27 Jan 2014

Coca Tea


Coca tea (known in Peru as mate de coca) , is an herbal tea  made from the leaves of the coca plant. The coca leaf is cut and put in a tea bag and is used as a normal 
tisane: by dipping a coca tea bag in hot water. Mate de coca is a very popular tisane in Peru where it is consumed as a digestive tea and even to treat altitude sickness. 
(that’s why it is so popular among the mountaineers who climb the Andes). Traditional medical uses of coca are foremost as a stimulant to overcome fatigue, hunger, and 
thirst. It is considered particularly effective against altitude sickness. It also is used as an anaesthetic to alleviate the pain of headache and sores, etc. Before stronger 
anaesthetics were available, coca leaves were also used for broken bones, childbirth, and during trephining operations on the skull. Coca is a plant in the family 
Erythroxylaceae, native to north-western South America. The plant plays a significant role in traditional Andean culture.  Coca, spelled koka in Quechua and Aymara, 
resembles a blackthorn bush, and grows to a height of 2–3 m (7–10 ft). The branches are straight, and the leaves, which have a green tint, are thin, opaque, oval, and taper 
at the extremities. A marked characteristic of the leaf is an areolated portion bounded by two longitudinal curved lines, one line on each side of the midrib, and more 
conspicuous on the under face of the leaf. Coca leaves have been used for centuries as a stimulant. Pre-Incan Indians used the leaves to relieve altitude sickness (hypoxia), 
hunger and fatigue. Coca is traditionally cultivated in the lower altitudes of the eastern slopes of the Andes, or the highlands depending on the species grown. Since ancient 
times, its leaves have been an important trade commodity between the lowlands where it is grown and the higher altitudes where it is widely consumed by the Andean 
peoples of Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Bolivia. Traces of coca have been found in mummies dating to 3000 years ago. Extensive archeological evidence for 
the chewing of coca leaves dates back at least to the sixth century A.D. Moche period, and the subsequent Inca period, based on mummies found with a supply of coca 
leaves, pottery depicting the characteristic cheek bulge of a coca chewer, spatulas for extracting alkali and figured bags for coca leaves and lime made from precious 
metals, and gold representations of coca in special gardens of the Inca in Cuzco. Coca chewing may originally have been limited to the eastern Andes before its introduction 
to the Incas.

Coca tea, also known as mate de coca, is a type of herbal tea that is made using the dry, raw leaves of the coca plant soaked in hot water so that the phytonutrients are 
extracted from the leaf. The coca plant is native to South America, particularly the Andes mountain range. The potential benefits of coca tea may include weight loss and 
energy production, and it has been used to boost immunity and to ease indigestion and altitude sickness. Coca tea contains alkaloids that may help promote weight loss. 
Certain alkaloids, such as the ones found in coca plants, may increase lipolysis, or the mobilization and breakdown of fatty acids for energy in your body, according to 
Louise Tenney, author of "Today's Herbal Health." Mobilizing fat stores from adipose tissue, or fat cells, to your muscles for energy boosts your metabolism and preserves 
muscle glycogen, increasing your body's natural fat-burning capability. When consumed on a regular basis, coca tea may promote the reduction of body fat with few side 
effects. The leaves of the coca plant contain compounds that provide a stimulatory effect on your body, similar to caffeine, that can boost energy and mental focus, notes 
Tenney. Coca tea contains a compound called inulin, a type of naturally occurring polysaccharide produced in some plants that provides a stimulatory effect. The stimulatory 
effect of coca tea is similar to coffee, but it works through different cellular mechanisms due to the lack of caffeine in the leaves of the coca plant. Coca tea contains high 
concentrations of vitamins that may have antioxidant properties. Vitamins A, B-2, B-6, C and E are all present in coca leaves, which may all help to boost the function of 
your immune system, increasing your body's ability to destroy potentially toxic compounds in your bloodstream. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human 
Services, the antioxidant properties of vitamins C and E may help reduce the risk of developing several types of cardiovascular disease. According to "The New Encyclopedia 
of Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements, and Herbs," coca tea has been used in South America for centuries to reduce gastrointestinal distress associated with indigestion and 
altitude sickness. Drinking coca tea and chewing on coca leaves may alleviate symptoms of altitude sickness, including nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea and vomiting. This 
effect may be due to the presence of various alkaloids as well as several B vitamins, which may help improve blood flow and oxygen uptake at high altitudes. 

Even tough the leaves of the coca plant contain several alkaloids including cocaine, it does not mean that coca leaf is equivalent to cocaine because to produce cocaine 
from the leaves it isneeded several kilos of leaves and some chemical products and processes to extract a few grams of cocaine which is not the case when consuming the 
leaves naturally and directly as a tea. The tiny quantities of alkaloid that are naturally present in coca leaves provide only a slight energising sensation and are not addicting 
at all. In Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, indigenous people chew coca leaves for energy to work all day long without eating. Coca tea is sold in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador in the 
supermarkets besides the other kinds of teas, there is even no limitation of age to purchase coca tea. It is seen as another kind of tea in these countries and it is starting to 
be seen as so in the rest of the countries. Coca is a plant. It is the source of cocaine, which is an illegal drug that is used nasally, injected, or smoked for mind-altering 
effects. Cocaine is also an FDA-approved Schedule C-II drug. This means cocaine can be prescribed by a healthcare provider, but the process is strictly regulated. The 
worry about cocaine is that it is unsafe and highly addictive. Despite safety concerns and illegality, the coca leaf is used to make medicine. People chew coca leaves to 
relieve hunger and fatigue and to enhance physical performance. Coca extracts are used for stimulating stomach function, causing sedation, and treating asthma, colds, and 
other ailments. Coca tea is used for altitude sickness in the Peruvian Andes and elsewhere. A form of cocaine that can be applied to the skin is available by prescription. It 
is used to numb eye, nose, and throat pain; and to narrow blood vessels. In manufacturing, coca extract with the cocaine removed is used to flavor cola drinks and food 

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