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What other names is Coca known by?

Bolivian Coca, Coca de Java, Coca Péruvienne, Cocaine Plant, Erythroxylum coca, Erythroxylum novogranatense, Gu Ko Yi, Health Inca Tea, Huanuco Coca, Inca Health Tea, Inca Tea, Java Coca, Mate-de-Coca, Mate de Coca, Peruvian Coca, Spadic, Thé Inca, Truxillo Coca.

What is Coca?

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 products.

Likely Ineffective for...

  • Improving physical performance. Coca increases heart rate, but doesn't seem to improve heart output or other bodily responses to physical exercise.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Cocaine dependence. Early research suggests that chewing coca leaf might improve mental health in people addicted to cocaine.
  • Stimulation of stomach function.
  • Asthma.
  • Colds.
  • Altitude sickness.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of coca for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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