I tried chewing coca leaves for a week; here's what happened.
Earlier this month, I decided to venture out into the grey market that is psychedelic and psychoactive to procure new and exciting plant-based helpers for my everyday life. You might be wondering how I decided on chewing Coca Leaf for a week. Well, I'm busy. I have a full life replete with running a psychedelic news publication, a lifestyle brand, and a passionate music production hobby, plus I'm a family woman. I've got a partner, a teenaged daughter who lives with us, a son who I transmit frequencies to across the country, and an extended family network that is part of my conscious and unconscious maneuverers. I may be tired and frazzled at times. This is precisely why I've been diving into biohacking and plant-based modalities of human optimization. There's a lot to do and more to be done. So, I entered a particular dispensary here in Vancouver and tried my first Coca Leaf latte. I loved it. I bought 10 grams of Coca Leaf and brought it home. My plan involved chewing Coca Leaf for a week to see if I got a bit of a boost!
First, Let's Get Into a Bit of History About the Coca Leaf!
Coca Leaf, native to South America, has been used for centuries by the region's indigenous people as a stimulant. Coca Leaves have also long been associated with spiritual ceremonies and rituals due to their psychoactive effects. In addition, Coca leaf was historically used as an offering in Incan culture.
Among the many rituals that have included Coca Leaf for hundreds of years, one of the most interesting is the Coca Leaf Divination Ritual. The purpose of this ritual was to seek guidance. However, the most practical and everyday use of Coca Leaves is to treat altitude sickness and physical pain!
Coca Leaves are harvested in the mountainous and jungle regions of Peru, Bolivia and Chile. Coca Leaf plants usually grow to an average height of two meters with large branches that contain oval-shaped leaves. Coca Leaves have a dark green colour on top, with a lighter underside which makes them easy to pick. Coca Leaf is often picked manually using hands!
When consuming Coca Leaf, there are two traditional methods: chewing and brewing into tea. However, today Coca Leaf is also infused into different beverages like cappuccinos or hot chocolate. My favourite recipe is a shot of Coca Leaf and espresso mixed with caramel syrup and oat milk!
While I always seek guidance from the universe, I didn't turn to a Coca Leaf experiment for this reason. While I live in the mountains of North Vancouver, I do not need altitude sickness alleviation. What got me interested in trying Coca Leaf were the other benefits I had heard about!
What are the Most Exciting Potential Health Benefits of Coca Leaf that Stood out to Me?
- Weight loss: Studies have found that Coca Leaves can help reduce appetite and increase the body's ability to burn fat. This could mean people will lose weight if they drink Coca Leaf tea regularly. Okay, I'm into it!
- Energy Booster: “Experimental findings suggest that chewing coca leaves gives a beneficial effect during a performance of exercise and that the beneficial effects are felt over a prolonged period of sustained physical activity. Perhaps this gives the users energy to function at a sustained level over long periods of time.” Count me in!
- A host of other claims remain to be substantiated as well, such as relief of digestive issues, immune system support, and the prevention of type two diabetes.
When navigating the grey market, it's critical to be your best health advocate and educate yourself on the possible negative sides of any substance you ingest. Of course, with every herbal remedy, there are side effects that we should be on the lookout for. Some things to look out for when eating Coca Leaves are increased heart rate and blood pressure, possible crashes and headaches. To read up on these, please feel free to dive in here.
Coca Leaf in Common Products
Coca products have been around North America since the early 1800s and were very popular then. Coca wine, Coca toothache drops, and even Coca-Cola are just a few of the products created with coca leaves as an ingredient! Coca wine was made from fermented Coca Leaves and was believed to be a medicinal remedy for many ailments. Coca toothpaste contained cocaine used to help fight cavities and other mouth-related issues. And, of course, we all know about Coca-Cola, which has become one of the most recognizable brands in history.
Coca-Cola was invented in 1886 by Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton, and Coca-Cola was initially formulated with Coca Leaf.
In the United States, Coca Leaves were made illegal for consumption purposes under the Harrison Narcotic Act of 1914. Specifically, this Act prohibited the importation and sale of Coca Leaves and made it illegal to manufacture or distribute Coca-Cola with Cocaine still present in it. The Coca-Cola Company then complied by removing Cocaine from their recipe but continued using Coca Leaf Extract as a flavorant in their beverages.
So, is Coca Leaf Legal?
No, but…it's a bit of a grey area.
Coca leaf is illegal under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). This law specifically bans the possession, production, sale, importation and exportation of Coca leaf and any other substance that contains Cocaine. In Canada, the entire plant is banned, yet no Canadian has ever been charged for the possession of Coca leaf! Because the law focuses mainly on the use of Cocaine, these little leaves fall into liminal space. Proceed with caution.
It's also illegal in the states and many other places internationally. 1961, the Coca Leaf was listed on Schedule I of the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs alongside Cocaine and Heroin. Due to the danger posed by these substances, Coca leaf was given a strict control level on medical and scientific use. This means that Coca Leaf could only be used under very specific and highly regulated circumstances.
Currently, the Coca Leaf is a schedule 2 narcotic in the USA.
Coca Leaf extract is legal to purchase and use in Canada and the US because it does not contain enough of the psychoactive compound to cause any sort of intoxication. It's legal because it is decocainized, and there is currently one manufacture approved by the DEA to produce it, Stepan Company. They also happen to produce medical grade cocaine.
In case you were wondering, Coca Leaf use can cause a positive result on a drug test. So, again, proceed with caution.
What was my experience like?
As I mentioned before, my experiment involved chewing Coca Leaf for a week, so that's what I did. I weighed about 2 grams on my micro-scale and popped them in my mouth. My daily dose was taken in the mornings. It's important to note that I did not drink coffee the first two mornings.
In this traditional form of consumption, folks take a stack of leaves and chew until it becomes a mushy pulp. Many experts recommend adding a pinch or two of baking soda to promote more alkaloid extraction and increase the potency of the chew.
The effects were subtle at first but after a few minutes I felt a small buzz begin and a tingling sensation in my gums! After five minutes of chewing and sucking the alkaloids out of the leaves, the side of my cheek went numb!
The Coca Leaf has a bitter taste; it's not for everyone. It's recommended to spit out the remnants of the chewed leaves after five minutes, but I just swallowed the leaves after the third time, which is more gangster and poses no physical threat.
In general, I noticed a significant increase in energy and focus. The lift I felt was similar to slamming a double espresso minus the jitters. It was like a warm energy radiating from within, making everything in front of me clearer and crisper. It was slightly euphoric. My ability to avoid distractions was temporarily increased, and I found myself processing information faster, typing faster, and multitasking better.
However, because I am a coffee addict, after day two, I added coffee back into my daily morning routine and chewed my Coca Leaf immediately after. Wow. This combo is pretty epic for getting your day started. As an efficiency junky, I would say that I endorse the entourage effect!
Take that warm, slightly euphoric burst of energy with the lightning-bolt surge of caffeine, and you'll likely believe you've embodied Bradley Cooper's character in the Movie Limitless when attending your morning meetings.
When it comes to length of the buzz, I would say the effects lasted about 2.5 hours and slowly tapered off. No crazy crashes noted! Perhaps a small headache, but I also don't drink enough water! I also noticed I wasn't craving snacks or breakfast, which makes it ideal for anyone practicing intermittent fasting! Anecdotally I can say that Chewing Coca Leaves every-day would probably lead to losing a pound or two over the course of a month.
Overall I am a fan! Taking it in the evening is not a good idea. After all this is a stimulant, and it wakes you up! I could see this becoming a habit due to my need for speed and getting stuff done!
For those living in the Vancouver area, and are curious about where I found my green stash, go visit the The Coca Leaf Café.