This post offers direct-source information on how Coca Leaf medications – primarily simple teas and tonics – were applied to Asthma as well as a range of respiratory conditions and diseases in the 1800’s. The word “cure” is used a lot by these long-ago doctors in describing patient outcomes. That seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? Coca leaf tea evidently worked for Asthma in 1875.
While readers may find some of the quoted remarks a bit quaint when viewed from our 21st century perspective of “advanced medicine”, nevertheless when you understand the core of what is being said by the doctors and patients quoted here I believe that you will agree that Coca leaf sounds like at least as effective a treatment for Asthma and respiratory disease as many if not most of the “advanced medicines” that the allopathic medical profession and its Big Pharma owners are so proud of.
When a well-meaning doctor recommends drugs like Novartis AG’s Foradil, GlaxoSmithKline’s Serevent and Advair, and AstraZeneca’s Symbicort – to name just a few of the contemporary ‘miracle drugs’ for Asthma – most people with asthma know that every one of Big Pharma’s asthma drugs have to be used with great care. Which means, in plain language, that under the wrong circumstances they can be dangerous and even fatal.
All the evidence from the doctors of the 1800’s who recorded their experience with the use of Coca Leaf teas and tonics for patients with Asthma and the range of respiratory diseases is that there were zero side-effects and thus zero danger. And Coca Leaf was effective in many if not all cases.
Now, to address the most likely objection to the idea of using Coca Leaf as an Asthma treatment – no, it is not Cocaine and no, it is not addictive or even habituating. Period. You can find extensive discussions of Coca’s non-addictive medicinal properties from original source materials in “The Coca Leaf Papers“.
Of course, before the use of Coca Leaf as an Asthma treatment could be widely adopted today it would have to be fully investigated using the highest research standards. However, given the longstanding opposition of most governments to natural medicines like Coca Leaf and Cannabis it seems unlikely that any such research would be funded.
This leaves the medical establishments of the few countries in the world where Coca Leaf is legal to take the lead – fortunately both Peru and Bolivia have first class medical research institutions that could easily and quickly do the necessary research. Coca is already widely used as an asthma medicine in both Peru and Bolivia, but both countries are under heavy US-led political pressure to keep the lid on anything positive about Coca, so you don’t hear much in the way of current research – although it is gradually accumulating.
Whether they would be allowed to do so openly is another question altogether. Still, if this research were to be done, and the results were to be what can be fully expected based on the experience of doctors in the 1800’s, these countries could become a medical travel destination for Asthma sufferers from around the world. Treatment centers and even retirement villages high in the Andes with Coca tea at 10, 2 and 4 – might work out real well even as a permanent lifestyle.
When the malarial-bone-racking accompaniment of influenza known as “la grippe” raged, Coca was found the most serviceable supporter of the organism during an attack. The use of a grog made from “Vin Mariani” and hot water taken at bed time was recommended abroad by Dr. H. Libermann, surgeon-in-chief of the French army, and in the United States by Dr. Cyrus Edson. Personally, I advocate in this affection quinine combined with phenacetine – three grains of each, repeated at intervals of two or three hours, with at the same time a tablespoonful to a wineglassful of the Coca wine already mentioned. Quinine has a very depressing influence upon many patients and is apt to check the flow of bile as well. Coca, on the other hand, is mildly laxative, and while furthering the action of the antifebrile remedies, it antagonizes the disease, buoys the patient and serves as a nutrient when food and even a milk dietary is distasteful. When the acute condition has passed the Coca wine, used less frequently, may wholly replace other medication, checking the fearful incidental despondency and toning up the patient to recovery.
Asthma is an exceedingly unfortunate affliction which may exhibit no local signs between the attacks. It is occasioned by a spasm of the minute tubes set up reflexively either by trouble in the upper air passages, or wholly from a nervous influence, and an attack is often precipitated by worry or some unusual nervous strain. The source of trouble is well prevented by the judicious use of Coca, not only acting beneficially upon the mucous membrane, but through a sedative influence upon nervous tissue and as a tonic support to the muscular system generally.
A cough may have its seat in the trachea, the explosive manifestation being an effort to clear the tract of some foreign body, which may be either simply the swollen mucous membrane or the excessive secretion from its congestion. The deeper such a trouble is carried along the respiratory tract the more serious it is, whether a bronchitis – affecting only the larger tubes, or a more profound catarrh of the smaller ones intimately associated with the air cells – capillary bronchitis – or a congestion of the air vesicles themselves, when their capacity is encroached upon by the products thrown out by inflammation, as in pneumonia. In phthisis so destructive is the prolonged consuming congestion that several of these air cells may be broken together and coalesce as one cavity.
An appropriate method of breathing, while absolutely necessary to the professional singer or speaker, is desirable to improve the organism generally. Commonly we are apt to breathe too shallow, and in such cases a sort of respiratory gymnastics is desirable. Such an exercise may best be taken standing, with the clothing loosed. The breath should now be drawn in slowly and the chest gradually expanded to its full capacity, the shoulders being raised to admit of every available space in the lungs being filled with air. After a short retention the breath may be permitted to escape slowly. Then, after a few ordinary respiratory movements, another enforced respiration should be taken, and so on during a period of ten minutes, the exercise being repeated two or three times each day. By such a method lungs of moderate capacity may be cultivated to breathe more deeply, and enabled to maintain a tone from twenty to thirty seconds. All sorts of devices have been designed to entertain the patient while bringing about this result, one of which is a little tube which is blown into. In doing this the lungs are emptied by an enforced expiration, which necessitates an increased inspiration.
This breathing exercise may well be done while counting mentally and uniformly so many seconds for an inspiration, so many while the breath is held, and so many counts during the period of expiration. While at commencement the respiratory cycle may not be prolonged to exceed ten or twelve seconds, after a short practice the time may be doubled. The rationale of all exercise is to make breathing deeper and so to purify the blood and tissues. It is, therefore, desirable that all exercise shall be taken where the air is comparatively pure. I commonly instruct my patients to accustom themselves to deep breathing during their out-of-door walks, selecting a given point up to which the inspiration is taken and an equally distant point up to which the breath is slowly let out. With such a guide there is often an incentive to perform the exercise properly. Professional singers well understand the importance of this quality of deep breathing and of the control of a supply of wind in the bellows – as in this instance we may term the accessory apparatus of the lungs – which may gradually be let out to excite the vocal bands to vibration, and some phenomenal renditions have been related of great capacity. The tenor Gunz is said to have been able to take sufficient air at one inspiration to sing all of Schumann’s “The Rose, the Lily,” and an Italian songstress is mentioned who could trill up and down the chromatic scale through two octaves with one breathe
Artists who appreciate the importance of a sound body in order to render desirable tones take especial care to carry out a line of general exercise which, while improving the physique, may be recreative. Following the idea that work, not idleness, is the more restful, a change of occupation is sought, and the same impulse which led Gladstone to tree chopping for his rest has prompted several prominent singers to stock farming. Professional singing is not the dreamy, idle life which the poetry of music suggests, but calls forth all the powers of a sound organism. Indeed, the exertion, and consequent exhaustion of both nerve and muscle, is greater than commonly supposed in all prolonged use of the voice, either in singing or speaking. Meyerbeer was termed a voice breaker as far back as 1837, since his day the task of such artists as sing the Wagnerian music is really phenomenal, and they deserve credit as noble examples of endurance quite as much as for their cultivated rendering of harmony. It is not unusual for singers to break down physically, so the professional singer’s care is constantly excited to the preservation of health. A story is related of a lady who went to Bayreuth to rehearse under Wagner the part of one of the flower girls in “Parsifal.” The great composer told her to sing the high note loud and take the next deep note, which immediately followed, from the chest. She replied: “Well, Meister, if I do, I will have no voice left in two years,” to which it is said Wagner replied: “Well, do you expect to sing any longer than that?”
From the particular strain put upon the vocal organs through prolonged periods there is a constant liability among those who use their voice in such a way, to “relaxed throat” and hoarseness, and this, with tonsillitis and sore throat, which may be prompted by either a climatic change or any personal indiscretion, is the bȇte noire of the professional singer and speaker. Perhaps greater prominence has been given Coca preparations for the treatment of such functional derangements of the throat and voice than its application to any other use. Years before cocaine came into general utility Dr. Charles Fauvel, of Paris, directed attention to the importance of Coca for laryngeal troubles, while its use was speedily advanced in England by Dr. Morell Mackenzie and in the United States by Dr. Louis Elsberg, the father of American laryngology. Both of these gentlemen were in the clinic of Fauvel, and their methods were soon adopted by a host of skillful workers. Among those quoted as having used Coca successfully in laryngeal troubles are Lennox Browne, Beverley Robinson, Jarvis, H. H. Curtis, E. Fletcher Ingals, Solis Cohen, Sajous, Bosworth, Rice, and a host of other prominent laryngologists. As has been shown, however, the effect of Coca is not in any sense merely a local one, but systemic, and its benefit is wholly dissimilar to that resulting from the topical application of cocaine, for Coca not only acts as a purifier of the blood, but through this influence as a nerve and muscle tonic. This is exhibited through the empirical use of Coca long resorted to in mountain climbing.
Coca Leaf & Acute Disease
(Excerpt From) “An Essay On Erythrolylon Coca” (in) “A New Form Of Nervous Disease” By W.S. Searle, M.D. (1881)
The relations of Coca to acute disease are extremely important. As a physician, I would not be without it under any consideration. How thoroughly will every physician understand me when I say that we are not seldom compelled to stand by and witness the death of patients who are really better of the disease which destroys them than perhaps at any previous time during their sickness. We are unable to support them, and they die from exhaustion of the vital forces. Stimulants, often, will not serve, as they quicken the pulse and increase inflammation. Even when this cannot be charged against them, they are injurious in ways which I cannot now stop to discuss. The appetite is gone, in these cases to which I refer, and food, if taken, is of little or no service. But in Coca we have a powerful agent, whose disturbing influence over physiological processes is so little felt that it neither interferes with recovery from disease by natural course, nor with the action of remedies. And its sustaining power is so marvelous, that I prophesy that by its help we shall hereafter be able to cure many cases of disease which were otherwise hopeless.
I will narrate but one case in illustration of what I mean:
A delicate man of about sixty years, who had once had pneumonia, and who for a year had suffered from severe catarrh and catarrhal bronchitis, was struck on the chest by the pole of a truck, in Broadway, with great violence. He was attacked at once with slight haemoptysis. On the next day he had fever, but would have no physician. Not until he had been sick for six days would he permit me to be summoned. I then found him with pneumonia of the left lung, rusty sputa, a dry, brown tongue, a pulse of 112, a temperature of 102o, no sleep for seventy-two hours, constant typhoid delirium, and persistent hiccough. A more hopeless case it has seldom been my lot to attempt to cure. I administered the remedies which appeared to me to be indicated, and ordered a teaspoonful of the fluid extract of Coca, mixed in a teacup of milk and water for nourishment. Of this he took about three cupfuls daily. Four days and a half later his condition was as follows: Temperature normal: tongue clean and moist: lung resolved: cough very slight, with thin, white expectoration: appetite good, sleep good, delirium gone, hiccough vanished, and, what was more remarkable to me than any thing else, his pulse, which on the day I first saw him was thready and feeble at 112, was now 72, and full and soft and regular; in short, as good a pulse as I ever felt in a man of his years.
Now this result may have been post hoc and not propter hoc, but after nearly a quarter of a century of experience, it is my deliberate opinion that no doctor, short of the Great Physician himself, could have achieved such a result within the above-named time without the aid of Coca.
I could multiply such examples, but ex uno disce omnes.
I am informed by my colleague, Dr. John L. Moffat, of Brooklyn, that he has had very encouraging results from the use of Coca in hay fever in four instances. Of course, its action here is antipathic, or rather, it probably acts simply by its sustaining power, and by its antipathic relations to asthma. But even an efficient palliative, which can do no harm, will be welcomed by those who are annually visited by this plague.
(From) “English Mechanic”, August 18th, 1876; “Coca Leaf Tea”
“The best and most effective way of taking this I found to be in infusion, made by pouring half a pint of boiling water on 2 scruples to a drachm of the leaves, and then putting it in the side oven to “brew,” filling up again to compensate for evaporation. Half of this taken warm at bedtime, and the remainder cold next morning, I found sufficient to give me all the vital energy I required to go through some very heavy and exhausting work before dinner, and then through the remainder of the day’s occupation with almost unimpaired energy. I did this work on Saturday, July 15, exposed to the sun, with the temperature in the shade at 93 degrees. I perspired pretty freely, of course, but much less than at considerably lower temperatures without the coca. I had no after lassitude or exhaustion whatever, nor did I feel any all the time I have been experimenting with it, and it has been through all this torrid weather.”
“Contrary to the expectation, I found it no substitute for food, the appetite being very vigorous. There was, however, none of the nausea and “sinking” usually experienced with hunger, and the appetite was more easily satisfied. Both digestion and assimilation seemed, also to be perfect. I continued the experiment daily, with the good effects of feeling entirely free from any lassitude or weakness from the extreme heat which has prevailed, and with a keen relish for, and enjoyment of, every meal. But the greatest benefit I experienced has been in extremis, the excessive perspiration of the feet being so mollified and subdued (without suppression), that the rawness and irritation was almost entirely absent, whilst the step was as buoyant and careless as could be desired.”
“Knowing pretty well the action of most of our stimulants and invigorators, I have closely watched for the appearance of any reactionary or prejudicial after-effects, but I have failed to observe any. I discontinued its use, then, for one week, to see if any of the usual depression followed; but I merely missed the previous high vigour and lightness, which was restored next day by the first “potion.” As to its action, it is not narcotic, as the sleep induced was immediate, calm, unbroken, and refreshing. It is not astringent (or congestive), as all the mucous surfaces were moist and supple, and the trifling lingering remnants of a winter’s asthma and bronchitis came up without cough or other forcible effort, without any “tightness” or difficulty of breathing.”
“As to its excellent effects, I chewed the leaves on first going off, which was followed by the appearance of several small ulcers on the tongue and mouth, and inside the cheek, which I was not surprised at, as I had only just got rid of a relaxation of the uvula and neighboring inflammation of three weeks’ continuance. Several small boils also appeared about the temples and neck. Its further use in infusion was accompanied at first with some little irritation of the skin, and the appearance of what are commonly termed “heat-bumps,” both of which however, soon disappeared.”
“I am more particular in alluding to this expellent action, because there are few of the tissues or organs of the body that are not more or less charged with the effete or worn-out matter of “combustion,” and it is these accumulations which are acted upon most powerfully by any increase or excess of vital energy, causing chemical changes and appearances which are the “forms” of disease; such appearances are well- known phenomena of the water-cure, and are hailed as the best prognostics of its efficacy and healthful action. In my own experiment I do not think there was much material for external expulsion, as an eight months’ more or less persistence of bronchitis and asthma had pretty well cleared out what effete matter I could have accumulated. I have had, however, another opportunity of testing the therapeutic action this week. Being at Hastings on Sunday, I had walked and climbed over the cliffs and glens to Fairlight and back, and was met on the last cliff on my return by a well-meaning but injudicious friend who persisted in “button-holing” me. In vain I urged upon him that I was wet through with perspiration, and that the strong keen wind on the exposed cliff was chilling me to the bone.”
“At last I broke away, but not before I had received enough mischief to produce by Tuesday a severe catarrh, sore throat, and incipient bronchitis. I at once used the chlorate of potass in a gargle to arrest the congestion, and turned to the coca. This has restored the vital force, and, moving the fluid circulation back to the skin, I am now, on Friday, again sound in wind and limb. Had the coca being a narcotic or an alterative of an astringent nature, I should have been left with more or less dryness of the throat, cough, and ” tightness ” of the chest, of which not the slightest traces are apparent. I should thus esteem it a very valuable remedy for diseases of the throat or lungs, and more especially for consumption, wherein I have used remedies of an analogous nature and action with the best effects.”
When I was a child I moved around the world with my military family, always traveling by ship in the days before aircraft could cross oceans. I would spend hours on deck writing messages, sealing them with candle wax in bottles I snagged from somewhere on board, and then consigning them to the sea knowing in my heart that they were on their way to someone, somewhere who would read them. Sometime replies arrived at my grandparents’ house years later, and they would forward them to me wherever I was living. From these contacts I developed pen-pals who I stayed in touch with for many years. I was fortunate to develop, very early in my life, a sense of the network that invisibly but seamlessly connects us all.