Many people make the mistake of grinding the coca leaves into powder and then snorting them up the nose. This is incorrect! The coca leaves in its natural form, provides nothing more than just a mild stimulant, similar to coffee. Brewing the coca leaves into tea is popular among all levels of the Peruvian and Bolivian society but among the working class especially those having to endure physically demanding labour, the coca leaves are usually chewed.
The coca leaves should never actually be munched upon. Instead follow these steps for the centuries-old traditional way of chewing coca leaves:
- First remove the stems of the coca leaves as it can hurt the inside of the cheek.
- Place the coca leaves one by one into the cheek, slowing forming into a small saliva-generating ball which you just leave there.
- Once there is a substantial amount of coca leaves accumulated inside the cheek, activate the alkaloids inside them so as to feel the effect. Either use bicarbonate powder or lejia which is sweet-tasting combination of ash and flavour. The mild stimulant effects of the coca leaves can last for housr with just a tiny nip every 15 minutes or so.
There are many health benefits from chewing coca leaves:-
- Teeth whitening
Chewing coca leaves actually helps to activate the alkaloids contained within the leaves to oxidise the blood producing the effect of a brilliant white teeth.
Coca leaves are full of minerals and vitamins including calcium, potassium, copper, magnesium, barium, iron and vitamins B1, B2, C and E.
Chewing coca leaves can help alleviate the pain of toothaches, headaches, minor injuries and some back pain as it will leave an anesthetic feeling in the mouth, down the throat affecting the tongue. Those suffering from arthritis have also found relief from chewing coca leaves
Chewing coca leaves provides the same stimulating effects as coffee and can be sufficient to stave off drowsiness. It can also act as an appetite suppressant and ward off thirst, pain, hunger and tiredness
Chewing coca leaves allows oxygen to be absorbed more easily into the bloodstream. People farming at high altitudes especially in the Andes are often affected by altitude sickness as the air has insufficient oxygen at high altitudes hence chewing coca leaves helps them cope with altitude sickness