Wow – talk about an apparent contradiction in terms! Hot water or alcohol (red wine) extracts of Erythroxylon Coca, the Coca plant, along with simple alcohol tinctures or oil extracts of Cannabis, as safe and effective cures ( note – that’s “cures”, not “treatments”) for addiction to Alcohol, Heroin, Morphine, Nicotine, Cocaine, and Amphetamine. Does not compute – right?
Well, hold on there just a minute podner – I have some news for you. Actually I’m not sure that I should be calling information from the 1700s & 1800s ‘news’, but the fact is that thousands of doctors in the US and Europe in the 1700/1800s considered Coca Leaf tea and tonics as highly effective cures for Opium, Nicotine and Alcohol addictions, and later on for Morphine, Heroin and Cocaine addictions, enabling addicts to complete withdrawal programs with very little suffering and to successfully stay clean afterwards. And as pointed out in several of the physicians quoted below, when extract of Coca Leaf was not quite sufficient, adding extract of Cannabis to the treatment virtually guaranteed success.
I can hear the snorts of disbelief from here. Cure drug addiction with a drug – sure. But hold on again just a minute – what about Methadone beloved of contemporary opiate addiction docs? What about all the pharma-technology being used by all those thousands of (highly profitable and minimally effective) drug treatment centers? What about will-power, prayer, and 12 steps?
All good and useful – for some. No doubt. But what about all the people who are not and can not be helped rid themselves of chemical dependence using these “modern” approaches?
And remember – we’re not talking about replacing heroin or morphine injection, or alcohol slurping, or a three-pack-a-day cigarette habit with snorting a line of Cocaine or, worse, firing up a crack pipe. By the late 1800s doctors realized that white powder (pharmaceutical) Cocaine could be just as much of a drug problem as the fruit of the poppy or the vine. Ample evidence exists from the 1860s to the present day that Cocaine is only minimally useful as a medicine and is one of the more dangerous recreational drugs, so we are definitely not talking here about the use of Cocaine as a treatment modality.
We are talking about using the whole, natural leaf of the divine plant of the Andes as a simple tea, or in many cases as a wine extract of the whole leaf – as in the widely used and justly famous “Vin Mariani”. And in fact doctors in the 19th Century used Coca leaf tea quite successfully to treat Cocaine addiction too – which it turns out was very common among physicians who, of course, were first in line to discover that a little tweak up the nose at the end of a hard day made everything seem OK. For a while.
I don’t mean to be flip about physician addiction. It was a terrible and increasingly pervasive problem in the 1900s and today it has grown like a cancer that seems to prey on the most compassionate and caring of physicians – the ones who feel their patients’ pain and suffering most acutely. And of course Pig Pharma is right there with a huge selection of readily available drugs for these physicians to use to, first, deal with the pain and ultimately to become addicted and to descend into the kind of despair from which there is often no exit (that they can see).
If you want to learn more about this tragic problem and the efforts being made to help addicted and suicidal physicians check the link to the DisruptedPhysician blog in the links section of this blog. In fact I am so blown away by this blog that I’ve decided that it makes powerful sense to include addicted physicians in my “Coca Road – Journey To Natural Healing™” project – they would certainly benefit as much from a month of Coca Leaf therapy in the mountains of Peru as anyone suffering from any of the conditions/diseases that originally inspired this project.
But, back to the reductionist approach of Pig Pharma to natural medicines. Before Pig Pharma brought its scientific reductionism onto the natural medicine scene, Opium was just Opium and Coca Leaf was just Coca Leaf. Yes Opium could become a habit, but when you read the medical and scientific literature of the 17th-19th centuries most doctors knew how to deal with that addiction. Not surprisingly, as you will read later in this post, one of the most effective ways they had to deal with both Opium, Alcohol and Nicotine addiction was – wait for it – Coca Leaf extract and in stubborn cases, Cannabis extract (which was called Cannabis Indica at the time). And it is a rock-solid fact that nobody, ever, anywhere in the scientific and medical record became addicted to either Coca Leaf or Cannabis although, as I just said, there were plenty of people, both physicians and laymen, who were able to safely and effectively withdraw from Opium, Morphine, Nicotine, Heroin and Alcohol addiction with the help of these pure, natural medicines.
Once Pig Pharma turned its reductionist lenses onto the Opium Poppy and Coca Leaf – voila – the world was gifted (sic) with Morphine, Heroin, Nicotine, Cocaine, Amphetamines, and all the poisonous variants of these scientific (and commercial) wonders.
Let me explain what I mean by scientific reductionism. Let’s start with the naturally-occurring Coca plant as it grows wild and cultivated in the Andes. Scientific Reductionism is not content with saying “Well, here is a plant whose leaves have been healing people and improving the quality of their lives for thousands of years. What a wonderful discovery.” Scientific Reductionism instead says “Wow, look at what this plant can do! There must be some single active principle that is responsible for the plant’s almost magical powers. If we can isolate and extract that active principle then there’s no need to go through the messy (and expensive) process of growing the plant – we can just figure out how to make that active principle in our laboratories and then we can patent it and get enormously rich. And even better, we’ll use our political, economic and military power to make sure that the indigenous people who have used this plant with respect and moderation for thousands of years don’t have access to the natural plant so then they’ll have to buy exclusively from us or from our very close friends the drug cartels!”
So if you’ve read this far you might be intrigued by what these 19th Century doctors learned about using Coca Leaf tea as a withdrawal support for addicts, supported if called for by the use of extract of Cannabis, and why they considered this a superior approach to anything else available at the time. (Or since, I would add.)
Obviously in this post I can’t cover all of the 19th Century medical literature on this subject, so I’ll just offer you a few selections, most taken from the original source materials that I have compiled in my new 700+ page eBook “The Coca Leaf Papers”.
Several others are from 19th Century narcotic addiction literature which, while it can be rather steamy, also occasionally discussed the extreme difference – night and day really – between synthesized pharmaceutical cocaine and the pure natural leaf of the Coca plant. In “Coca leaf Papers” you’ll find an extensive bibliography with hyperlinks to dozens of original sources, many of which will offer you detailed insight into how these doctors of long ago managed to accomplish with simple Coca Leaf teas and tonics what industrial-scale anti-addiction programs of today largely fail to do – permanently cure opiate and alcohol addiction.
Of course it is important to note that today’s drug problems are far more complicated that those faced in the 1800s – thanks in no small part to the antics of the corporate and government anti-drug bureaucracies and their partners-in-crime, Pig Pharma. (Not a typo.) It is no accident that legally prescribed pharmaceuticals are a major cause of drug death today, along with the toxic products of the ever-inventive street chemists serving the demands of brain-fried addicts. However, as I read the findings of these pioneering doctors, it seems pretty clear to me that the same Coca Leaf cure that worked with alcohol and opiates in the 1800s would probably work pretty well with the speed freaks of today. But, of course, nobody really knows because Coca Leaf is illegal and so it can’t actually be tested to see if it would succeed where all the modern medical ‘cures’ somehow only seem to make the dispensers more wealthy while leaving the addicts to gradually expire in a pool of their own body fluids.
From “The History of Coca” by Dr. William Golden Mortimer, 1901
Excerpt from Chapter XIV “The Physiology Of Coca”
Coca & The Curing Of Drug Addiction
“Prominent in the application of Coca is its antagonism to the alcohol and opium habit. Freud, of Vienna, considers that Coca not only allays the craving for morphine, but that relapses do not occur. Coca certainly will check the muscle racking pains incidental to abandonment of opium by an habitué, and its use is well indicated in the condition following the abuse of alcohol when the stomach can not digest food. It not only allays the necessity for food, but removes the distressing nervous phenomena. Dr. Bauduy, of St. Louis, early called the attention of the American Neurological Association to the efficiency of Coca in the treatment of melancholia, and the benefit of Coca in a long list of nervous or nerveless conditions has been extolled by a host of physicians.”
(From) Erythroxylon Coca: By W.S. Searle, MD
New York, 1881
Coca Leaf & Opiate Addiction
“Perhaps one of the most valuable as well as wonderful properties of Coca is the facility with which it meets and extinguishes the craving for opium in the victims to that fearful habit. Professor Palmer, of the University of Louisville, Kentucky, has an article upon this subject in the Louisville Medical Journal, for 1880, and he therein narrates three cases in which he found the Coca a complete and easy substitute for the opium or morphine which had been habitually taken. One sufferer had been in the habit of taking thirty grains of morphine daily, and yet abandoned that drug wholly, and at once, and without the slightest difficulty, by resorting to the fluid extract of Coca whenever the craving attacked him.”
“Nor can this be considered simply an exchange of masters, since the uniform testimony of even those who have used Coca for a long time, and continuously, is that abstention from its employment is perfectly easy, and is not accompanied by any feelings of distress or uneasiness whatever.”
“Were Coca of no other use than this it would be a boon to afflicted humanity such as no one who has not been bound hand and foot in the slavery of opium can appreciate.”
From “Coca And Its Therapeutic Applications” by Angelo Mariani (1890)
Excerpt from Chapter V
“Dr. Villeneuve, among other cases of morphinomania conquered by the combined use of the pate and the Vin Mariani, communicated to us in 1884 the following observation: “M. X , barrister, 32 years of age, five years ago began to use morphine preparations as a remedy against a very alarming chronic bronchitis and granulations in the throat, which were irritated constantly by cigarette smoking.”
“The patient at first only used morphine, but his physicians committed the imprudence of treating him by hypodermic injection. A notable change for the better was produced during the first month, but, unfortunately, abuse succeeded promptly the use of the medicament – so much so that when I commenced to treat the patient, he was taking daily from 1 gramme 50 centigrammes to 1 gramme 80 centigrammes of morphine hypodermically. When he was four hours without his dose there appeared insomnia, hallucinations and delirium; constipation lasting sometimes for fifteen days, which brought on in the spring a very alarming perityphlitis, jerking of the muscles, sudden frights, dyspepsia, and at last frightful congestion of the face whenever he drank a drop of wine or brandy.”
“After a month’s treatment I had succeeded in reducing the daily doses without causing alarming symptoms; the physiological functions seemed to awaken again. However, the congestion and especially the dyspepsia was very grave, and the cough which had been suppressed by morphine returned. It was then that I treated my patient with phosphate of lime, the pate and the Vin Mariani. Lacking his habitual stimulant, he was plunged in a semi-coma from which he could not always be relieved with weaker daily doses of morphine.”
“The danger I feared most was a relapse of bronchitis, and that the cough and expectoration might end fatally. But in about a week, during which he took ten doses of Pate de Coca daily, the cough became less fatiguing and disappeared entirely in about twenty days. The patient then commenced to take small doses of Vin Mariani (two Madeira-glasses a day). At first congestion appeared, but little by little, as digestion became more easy, my patient, who on account of his profound anӕmia could not tolerate any table wines, took at first a small glass, then two, then three glasses at a meal. Now he can go and take his dinner in town, which he had not been able to do for three years; he regained his former vigor, is able to undertake anew his occupations, and has entirely given up his morphine habit.”
From “The Treatment of Opium Addiction”
J.B. Mattison MD, NY 1885
“Should there be minor discomfort, one-half-ounce doses of fld. ext. coca, every second hour, have a good effect. Cases occasionally require nothing else. If, however, as usually occurs, despite the coca, the characteristic restlessness sets in, we give full doses of fluid extract of cannabis indica, and repeat it every hour, second hour, or less often, as may be required. When the disquiet is not marked, this will control.”
“Having thus crossed the opiate Rubicon, treatment relates, largely, to the debility and insomnia. For the former, of internal tonic-stimulants, coca leads the list.”
“On the discovery of cocaine, it was thought its use, hypodermically, might prove of value in the treatment of this disorder, and, on asserted foreign authority, somewhat extravagant claims. Statements were made of its merit in this regard; but repeated trials by the writer have failed to prove them, and, in his opinion, it is much inferior to a reliable fluid extract of coca.”
From: “The Modern Treatment of Alcoholism and Drug Narcotism”
C.A. McBride, MD, New York 1910
Cocaine is an alkaloid obtained from the coca leaves. The leaves themselves have a very
stimulating effect upon those who use them. The Indians of South America are known to chew coca leaves in order to enable them to carry heavy burdens over long distances and to climb mountains without undue fatigue. When taken in this form, the habit does not seem to be contracted in the same way as when the alkaloid cocaine is taken by itself. We ourselves have tested its use in connection with our army in order to ascertain whether our men could stand a more fatiguing march by its use than otherwise. For some reason or another we have not heard any- thing further of its use in that direction.
Athletes at one time were accustomed to chew the leaves before entering upon some strenuous competition. To a great extent I believe that that has also dropped out of fashion, but it is said that in some of the recent Marathon races a well-known athlete used these leaves to sustain his strength during the contest. That he came in fresher than most of his competitors might be accounted for in this way.
There are several preparations upon the market containing an extract of the leaves and sold as tonics. The general public will be well advised to take none of these preparations without first consulting their doctor.
From “The Opium Habit And Alcoholism, Including Their Therapeutic Indications”
(by) Dr. Fred Heman Hubbard 1881
Case No. 2. Mrs. Julia L., 31 years old,, 5 years married. The incentive inducing her to take the drug, was association with a sister who was an opium eater.
She possessed a delicate organization, with hysterical tendencies, enjoying, however, apparently good health before forming the habit, although her immediate friends supposed her to be consumptive. Seeing her sister take the drug, she would occasionally indulge, and being frail and easily influenced, soon formed the habit.
Patient No. 2 on coming under our observation, was consuming twelve grains of morphia per day. When she was fatigued by over-exertion, the dose was increased; the morphia supporting her during such emergencies, as the power to undergo physical endurance under its action is wonderful. While prostrating in the end, its direct effects are to sustain the system.
Our patient’s natural tendencies rendered her susceptible to the pestiferous effects of the poison, so that she early foil under its influence and was reduced to a skeleton. In appearance her skin was dark and jaundiced, indicating a degeneration of the nutritive constituents of the blood; the hair and nails ceased to grow, the latter becoming brittle, showing a suspension of their nutrition.
As is usual with opium eaters, anorexia and constipation aggravated her case. She had not menstruated since forming the habit, and had imagined herself to be with child for some months. During the tenth month of the practice, her family were horrified by her having a
hemorrhage, apparently from the lungs. It did not suggest itself to them that the habit was the exciting cause of the suppressed menses and its vicarious elimination from the system, by hemorrhage. Her strength failed progressively from this time, the hemorrhages recurring, with some degree of regularity, every three or four months. She was given up as irrevocably doomed to slow consumption, a weak, hacking cough giving color to the supposition.
We considered her case a desperate one and so informed her family. She insisted, however, upon being treated, if only that she might die free from the monster, opium.
In order to decrease her consumption of morphia slowly, we prescribed:
Cannabis Indica, 3 v.
Belladonna Tr ? vi.
Glycerine, ; xv.
Alcohol, § xx.
Salt Baths were ordered to be taken three times a week; the diet to include a liberal allowance of fruit and vegetables and a lemon or orange was ordered to be taken
before breakfast and on retiring. If the bowels in these cases do not respond to a fruit diet, it is necessary to facilitate their action every other day by an enema, consisting of one ounce of castor oil. As there was general poverty of the nerve centres in this case, we ordered syrup of bypophosphites, taken alternately every other week, with the following:
IJ. Iodide Lime, gr. x.
Phosphate Iron, 3 i-
Quinia, 3 i-
Lactopeptine, 3 ii-
Syrup simple, 3 v.
M. Sig. Teaspoonful at nine, three and nine o’clock.
During the subsequent forty days this patient’s improvement was phenomenal, and was accompanied by a ravenous appetite. She gained flesh at the rate of three pounds per week. Her bowels did not, however, relax, or show any disposition to regulate themselves, displaying an atonic condition, which it was absolutely necessary to overcome before a cure could be effected. On the thirty- fifth day of treatment she had a hemorrhage, more profuse than usual, succeeded by hemoptysis for three days.
The lime, iron and quinia were discontinued, and the following pill was given: —
r£. Ferri sul. gr. xv.
Colocynth, ext. gr. x.
Henbane, ext. gr. iv.
Leptandrin, gr. lii.
Podophyllin, gr. li.
Aloes, gr. iv.
Capsicum, gr. v.
M. Pills xxv. Sig. One pill after meals.
Some years previous to forming the habit, the patient had suffered dysmenorrhcea and leucorrhcea, receiving treatment at that time for ulceration of the os-uten An examination displayed a congested and thickened os with two or three cicatrixes, the results of former ulceration. On the seventieth day of treatment, she experienced for the first time expulsive pains, severe in character accompanied with backache and followed by leucorrhcea. Warm injections of castile soap water, preceded an injection of tea twice the strength of that commonly used at the table, and as warm as was consistent with comfort. The next morning we ordered the castile soap water repeated, using the following as a final vaginal injection.
5- Glycerine, iii.
Carbolic acid, 3 ii.
Camphor aqua, 3 i.
Aqua, 3 x.
This, in a measure, controlled the symptoms, but we were hastily called three days afterwards, and found the patient suffering general prostration. The bowels had not acted for three days, the movements excited by injections were unsatisfactory, giving no relief. Anorexia being complete, the sight or smell of food induced nausea.
With our present experience we would not pursue the course resorted to in her case, where the bowels were unrelaxed. As it was, the prescriptions Nos. 1 and 2 were stopped and baths ordered. Electricity was applied with sponges over the abdominal viscera and rectum, exciting a passage, which was, however, scant, and forced, and not sufficient to relieve the system. Calomel of the tenth trituration, with full doses of podophyllin, was administered during the evening. At four o’clock the following morning, we were called and informed by the messenger that our patient was dead, having breathed her last a few moments before. She was indeed dead to all appearances, being in hysterical catalepsy, with no appreciable action of the heart or respiratory muscles.
She had suffered greatly during the night, vomiting incessantly, with no action upon the part of the bowels. We administered, hypodermically, one-half grain of morphia, when a little cold water sprinkled in the face excited reflex centric spinal action and revived her.
This instance only confirmed the conviction that it is impossible to cure the opium habit, and bridge the patient over the crisis, without having the bowels freely relaxed.
The condition unmistakably indicates – and the indication should not be misinterpreted – a state of the nerves’ periphery, which affects the system at large by a reflex action, showing that nature is oppressed by some obstacle which precludes the possibility of an immediate cure. The indications are broadly presented, demanding that no further effort be made to reduce the dose. The patient should be put on the smallest amount of opium consistent with a quiescent state of the nerves, and means should be taken to build up the general health by the judicious administration of tonics, to excite deposits of nutritive principles that give tone and strength to the nervous system.
A rule, scrupulously to be observed, is not to allow the patient to advance into the crisis until the bowels have freely relaxed, involving the entire canal. The crisis is a condition following the withdrawal of the last infinitesimal amount of opium. In preparation for it, patients may be kept as near the verge as the physician wishes, and they will improve, it being only a question of time when their improvement will revivify theantonic nerves.
The activity of the nerves’ periphery, presiding over the abdominal viscery, will be a true criterion of their condition throughout the system and a signal for the treatment to be resumed in safety, with victory near at hand. Drastic cathartics will not facilitate the action of the bowels, as paralyzed nerves recognize no such master.
We kept our patient on a small quantity of opium, slowly reducing that amount every third day, allowing the system time to recuperate. We prescribed the following:
IJ. Morphia, 3 ii.
Alcohol, 5 v.
Glycerine, 3 vi.
Aqua, I vii
M. Sig. Teaspoonful after meals.
Bottle No. 2 contained :
B/. Cannabis Indica, 3 vi.
Belladonna Tr. § iii.
Alcohol, 3 iv.
Ginger Tr. 3 v.
Gentian comp. Tr. 3 vi.
Syrup Ferri Iodide, 3 iv.
M. sig. Every third day replace what is taken from
No. 1, with the above.
“We directed the patient’s husband to inform us at once when her bowels fully relaxed. Thirty-seven days afterwards our presence was requested ; we found her greatly improved in every respect, presenting quite a natural appearance, her bowels having relaxed the previous night, moving twelve times before morning, with accompanying expulsive pains and profuse vaginal secretions, her catamenia appearing for the first time in three years. The attendants kept the first large discharge for our inspection, as it excited their curiosity by its peculiarity of character. It consisted of a mass of black coagulated matter, thickly studded with fibrinous laminae, or flakes, emitting a putrid odor; also a mass of remarkably bard scybala, baving stamped on their surface the imprint of numerous crescentic folds from the columnar epithelium, showing that it must have remained impact in one spot for some time. The relief experienced by the patient was complete, although she was exhausted. Prescriptions Nos. 1 and 2 were stopped and the patient was given one grain of quinia every hour, with instructions to chew coca leaves, retaining the juice extracted, which enabled her to pass safely through the crisis, without suffering nervous irritability. Within five days she was doing housework.”
“A letter from her brother, who is also a physician, written two years later, gives a glowing account of her perfect health, hemorrhages and other phthisical symptoms having disappeared, menstrual functions being normal, while her former frail state was entirely gone and replaced by robust health.”
I have a wide range of friends and colleagues in and outside of the medical and scientific communities, and I am always impressed by the range of reactions that they have to information from their long-ago peers – the doctors and scientists of the 18th & 19th Centuries. On any given subject their opinions generally fall on a normal curve.
On one tail of the normal curve are those who, while not doubting the sincerity of these long-dead writers, simply don’t see how the knowledge that they gathered during their lifetimes of research and practice could possibly be relevant today. There is simply no arguing with these people – one can usually spot them because of how fond they are of using the royal “We” when talking about the medical approach they are taking, e.g. “We believe that this treatment will be best for you…”
On the other tail of the normal curve are those who feel that for all the advances in medical hardware technology, bio-technology, diagnostic and imaging technology etc – they feel that these old-time doctors who had only their hands, eyes, ears, nose, and a lifetime of being intimately involved with their patients, must have had a set of sense-based tools that modern physicians simply don’t have. As an example I have one doctor friend who tells me, and I completely believe her, that she can smell certain kinds of cancer long before it is detectable by technology. Well, it is well-known that there are dogs that can do this – so why not humans? And of course there are many, many doctors who turn to the ancient herbal remedies and give them a chance to do their healing work long before they are forced to use the toxic tools of Pig Pharma.
And then there are all those physicians and practitioners who fall under the great central bell of the curve. They don’t think much about the knowledge of the past, but they don’t discredit it either. The problem that this group has is that the knowledge of the past is almost totally lost to both them and to society. Physicians don’t encounter it in their medical training, and scientists only encounter it as a vague set of building blocks upon which modern medicine and technology has been erected (unless they are those rare birds who actually study the history of science and medicine).
In this blog I am working to discover and bring forth lost knowledge for the potential benefit of those doctors and scientists who dwell in the progressive forward tail of the curve and all those moderate souls who are positioned under the great center of the curve. I try not to speak for the voices of the past but to recover them and give them a venue where their knowledge is available to be re-discovered, by doctors and scientists certainly but more importantly by intelligent people from all walks of life who are seeking to understand the great secrets of living long, and well, and in the full vigor and creative energy that is life at its best.
Those who have ears, let them hear; those who have eyes, let them see.