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The coca leaf is not a drug

Wednesday, January 05, 2011 by: Carlos Greene
Tags: coca, drug, health news

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(NewsTarget) The Quechua people of the Andes and their Inka ancestors have long used the coca leaf for medicinal properties and in sacred spiritual ceremonies. Recently, however, it was discovered that the coca leaf was utilized 8000 years ago by Andes-dwelling people. In the Nanchok Valley of Peru, researchers found 8000-year-old coca leaves and calcite, a mineral used by coca chewers to extract alkaloids from the leaf. This seems to show that these ancient people were extracting and using the medicinal properties of the coca leaf. Yet, the United Nations (UN) seeks to control and ultimately eliminate the use of the coca plant as natural medicine by the indigenous Andean people.

The UN lists the coca leaf alongside cocaine and opium as a dangerous controlled substance. The UN`s International Narcotics Control Board suggested to Peru and Bolivia in 2008 to "abolish or prohibit activities...such as coca leaf chewing and the manufacture of coca tea." Peruvian Congresswoman Maria Sumire said, "The United Nations lacks respect for the indigenous people...who have used the coca leaf since forever...For indigenous people, coca is a sacred leaf that is part of their cultural identity."

The coca leaf is chewed or steeped in tea by Andean people as remedy for hunger, lethargy, and altitude sickness (known as soroche), as well as for sacred purposes. For visitors to the Andes, coca tea and leaves are offered to combat the possible side effects of soroche. Yes, travelers to the Andes can benefit from the coca leaf`s medicine too.

The coca leaf and cocaine are not the same. Most people view the coca leaf only as a refining process input in the production of cocaine. In the US, this incorrect view is influenced by the government-pushed media attention given to cocaine over the past 30 years, the same time period of the US Drug War. Cocaine is to the coca plant as paper is to the pine tree: cocaine and paper are products created by humans through extractive chemical processing. Mike Adams stated it well when he said cocaine "is an abuse of the gifts this plant has to offer". Clearly, there is a difference between the natural coca leaf and processed cocaine.

The UN coca leaf eradication effort is sponsored by the same transnational corporate and international government organizations that push people toward Big Pharma drugs and away from natural medicine. Instruments such as the US Drug War are used to separate Andean people from their ancient cultural heritage, spiritual traditions, and ancestral lands. Attempts to forbid the traditional use of the coca leaf are another such instrument employed by the UN.

The coca leaf is the plant in its natural form, not a good produced by drug cartels or corporations. The coca leaf is medicine that grows naturally and its properties are beneficial. It is a sacred medicine and cultural symbol to the Andean people. Like cannabis and other medicinal plants, coca is demonized by the West to push dependence on Big Pharma-produced drugs.

The coca leaf exemplifies the clash of the so-called advanced Western techno-culture with the ancient Earth-based spiritual systems and traditions of indigenous people. While the UN and US conflate the coca leaf with produced drugs like cocaine and opium, the Quechua proclaim `La hoja de coca es no droga` (`The coca leaf is not a drug`) to all visitors that will listen. And people should listen. The Quechua and their ancestors have been using the medicine of the coca leaf for at least 8000 years.

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About the author

Carlos Greene is engaged in multiple issues across the spectrum of public policy. He is a writer, organic gardener, and lover of music.

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