HOJA DE COCA
 

Coca Leaves, was and is still considered a sacred aspect of the Andean culture. It is only in this past century that the chemical configuration was changed to make the drug cocaine. Since then, the rest of the world has seen Coca as the raw material for the drug cocaine and not as the medicinal plant used for thousands of years. Coca was and is still used at every stage of the Andean peoples lives. Before giving birth, a woman drinks and chews Coca to hasten the labour and ease the pain. When a child is born, relatives celebrate by chewing the Coca leaf together. When a young man wants to marry a girl, he offers Coca to her father. And when somebody dies.

Coca leaves is a densely-leafed plant native to the eastern slopes of the Andes.Erythroxylon coca is widely cultivated in Peru. The leaves are rich in vitamins, protein, calcium,iron and fiber. Chewing coca also counters the symptoms of 'mountainsickness' and oxygen-deprivation.

Strictly speaking, the leaves aren't actually chewed. Typically, the dried coca leaf is moistened with saliva. The wad is placed between the gum and cheek and it is gently sucked. The invigorating juices are swallowed.

Contains also 13 alkaloids: Papain, pectin, Globulin, Quinolin, Benzoin, Inulin, Reserpin and other substances still unknown.

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