Coca Leaves: Its Source, Constituents and Uses

Coca Leaves: Its Source, Constituents and Uses

Synonyms: Coca; Huanaco coca; Truxaillo coca; Java coca; Folia cocae.


Biological Source : Coca or coca leaves have been described as the dried leaves of Erythroxylum coca Lam (Huanaco Coca) or of Erythroxylum truxillense Rusby (Truxilio Coca).

Family: Erythroxylaceae.

Geographical Source: Java, Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Peru, Indonesia and India. It is a shrub or small tree, pyramidal in shape, up to 6 m high, with dark green, ovate leaves.

Cultivation:

Coca plant is grown similarly to tea-plantation. Seeds are sown in rich, light and well drained soil at an altitude of 500-2000 meters.

It requires a humid atmosphere, rainfall not below 75- 80 inch and temperature between 59-68°F. It thrives best in well drained moist loams rich in humus. The plant can be propagated by cuttings, but for raising plantations, seedlings are raised in nurseries and transplanted. The first crop of leaves is gathered in 1-3 years after planting. Only the stiff ripe leaves, easily detached, are collected. The young leaves are reported to be rich in cinnamylcocaine and this is replaced in the old leaves by cocaine or truxilline.

Morphology:

  1. Huanaco or Bolivian Coca leaves are entire, 3-8 cm long. 1.5-4 cm wide, shortly petiolated, apex-acute, base tapering, lamina-brown and glabrous, margin entire, midrib prominent on the lower surface with a ridge on its upper surface, apex acute, surface-glabrous, slightly glossy, texture thin, odor-distinct, taste-bitter.
  2. Truxillo or Peruvian coca are more or less broken, pale green in color, lamina is 1.6-6 cm long, shape elliptical, margin entire, venation is identical but ridges on lower surface are conspicuous, apex acute, base tapering, surface-glabrous, not glossy, texture-thin, fragile; odor is distinct and taste is bitter.

Chemical Constituents:

Coca leaves contain 0.7-1.5% of alkaloids which are of three type derivatives of:

(i) ecgonine (cocaine, cinnamylcocaine , a and ß truxilline

(ii) tropine (tropococaine, valerine) and

(iii) hygrine (hygrolline, cuscohygrine)

The alkaloidal composition varies according to the variety of the plant and stage of development of leaves.

Cocaine, cinnamylcocaine and a truxllline are the most important alkaloids.
The constituents isolated from the leaves are simple alkaloids (hygrine, dihydrocuscohygrine, tropococaine, four yellow crystalline glycosides. cocatannic acid and essential oil.

Cocaine is the methyl ester of benzoylecgonine. On hydrolysis it yields ecgonine ,benzoic acid and methyl alcohol. Cinnamyl-cocaine on hydrolysis gives ecgonine, methyl alcohol and cinnamic acid, while a truxilline forms ecgonine, methyl alcohol and a truxillic acid

Besides the alkaloids, coca leaves contain an essential oil [O.O6 - 0.13%), the chief constituent of which is methyl salicylate. A coloring matter, coca citrin has been reported from the leaves.

Uses:

Coca leaves are stimulant and astringent. They are used in masticators. Cocaine is local anesthetic and has stimulant action on C.N.S, and used in dental anesthesia and minor local surgery of ophthalmic, ear, nose and throat.

Some of these non-psychoactive chemicals are still used for the flavoring of Coca-Cola. When chewed, Coca acts as a stimulant to help suppress hunger sensations, thirst, and fatigue. The LD50 of coca extract is 3,450 mg/kg, however, the LD50 of the extract based on its cocaine content is 31.4 mg/kg.

In the United States, a resident of Atlanta, Georgia, named John Styth Pemberton, introduced a product similar to Mariani's wine in 1885. Pemberton had previously been marketing patent medicines such as Triplex Liver Pills and Globe of Flower Cough Syrup. The registered trademark for his new product was French Wine Coca–– Ideal Nerve and Tonic Stimulant. The next year, he added yet another coca product, a syrup that he called Coca-Cola.

The "Cola" in the name indicated the presence of an extract of kola nut–– an African product that contains about 2 percent caffeine. That year, Pemberton is said to have sold twenty-five gallons of the syrup. At various times it was advertised as a remarkable therapeutic agent" and as a "sovereign remedy" for a long list of ailments, including melancholy and (curiously) insomnia.

Chewing coca leaves with a dash of powdered lime is a nutritious and energizing way to induce healthy mood without causing an unsustainable high. Unfortunately, it is not very good for one's teeth.

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. Lime-rich materials such as burnt seashells or a cereal are used to promote the separation of the leaf's active alkaloid.

The effects of coca-paste smoking have been reported to be as toxic as those seen after intravenous or smoked cocaine (i.e., CRACK) in the United States. In fact, coca-paste smokers can achieve cocaine blood levels comparable to those seen in users injecting or smoking cocaine (Paly et al., 1980). Smoking the paste leads to an almost immediate euphoric response, and users smoke it repeatedly. As with smoking cocaine (FREEBASING), large quantities of the paste are taken repeatedly within a single smoking session, which is terminated only when the drug supply is depleted.

Users report a dysphoric response (unease, illness) within about thirty minutes after smoking, so more paste is generally smoked at Some of these non-psychoactive chemicals are still used for the flavoring of Coca-Cola. When chewed, Coca acts as a stimulant to help suppress hunger sensations, thirst, and fatigue. The LD50 of coca extract is 3,450 mg/kg, however, the LD50 of the extract based on its cocaine content is 31.4 mg/kg.

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