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Thoughts On Coca, Cannabis, Opium & Tobacco – Gifts Of The Great Spirit


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Coca Valley & The World Of Fools

CocaFlowersxThe Government of Peru is a major buyer of Coca Leaf in the Valley of the Apurimac-Ene-Mantaro Rivers, referred to in ever-charming government acronym style as “The VRAEM”. This Valley lies at the heart of the Andean mountain chain and could easily have been the model for Shangri-la. As it is, the Peruvian government, in league with the US Police State, has turned the Valley of the Apurimac-Ene-Mantaro Rivers into a war zone targeting peaceful Coca growers.

Interestingly the Peruvian government is also a major buyer of the Valley’s Coca Leaf, but the government buyers are well-known as cheapskates. That’s probably because – officially – government buyers and selected foreign buyers like Coca Cola are supposed to be the only buyers in the valley. They figure they’re doing the Coca growers a favor.

Of course, the Cocaine Cartels beg to differ with that, as do a substantial proportion of valley residents. And so there is no peace in the valley.

The Peruvian government owns and controls the non-Cocaine use of Coca Leaf through a monopoly named ENACO. This state-run company produces the official line of Coca tonics, medicines drinks and snacks for domestic consumption.

Peru’s politicians are in the Coca Leaf Remedios business because Coca Remedios are so deeply ingrained in Peruvian society that their use cannot be stopped – oh, and also because it’s a handy way to make some very nice revenue.

However, private entrepreneurs are not allowed to compete with the government monopoly, so Peruvian Coca Leaf products remain stuck with an incongruous “Soviet” look and excruciatingly ho-hum marketing. Too bad for Peru – Bolivian entrepreneurs and government officials are already making creative headway in the world markets for Coca Leaf and Coca Leaf medicines. (Pretty soon some country in Europe like the Netherlands or France is going to open up to Coca leaf entrepreneurs. The US is probably going to keep its Federal asshole puckered but one or two of the states ought to give Coca Leaf legalization a good hard look. )

Meanwhile, back in Coca Valley. At the same time that it low-balls the farmers’ Coca Leaf and makes cheesy Coca Leaf products, the Peruvian government wages war against any “extra” Coca growing by the people of Coca Valley. If they grow more than they are told to by the government, or if they refuse to sell to ENACO because of its ridiculous prices for their precious leaf, GOP burns and poisons their fields and makes their lives as miserable as possible. After all, their bottom-line motive is to satisfy the requirements of the US Police State that wants to be able to show the world that Peru is trying very, very hard to eradicate illicit Cocaine production. Very hard.

But Aha! Peru has come up with a plan! GOP wants the people of Coca Valley to grow only enough Coca to satisfy the government’s requirements, and then to convert to growing crops like bananas and cocoa – assisted of course by friendly “experts” from the US and UN.

Of course if you are a farmer in Coca Valley and your family has been growing Coca for generations and you don’t happen to like the chintzy prices the government is willing to pay, are you going to let the police rip out your Coca plants and make you start over with Bananas? Quite a few Coca Valley residents have not been pleased when approached by men with guns proposing this plan, and a few have gotten downright rowdy. Thrown rocks ‘n stuff. You know – terrorism.

Peru Cocaine Runways Photo GallerySo to complete the farce the Peruvian government declared the VRAEM a war zone a few years back, it ever since has been battling against the quickly shrinking remains of the once-powerful Shining Path rebels – as of late 2015 SL is down to under 100 guerillas, mostly old men and teenagers.

To go after this fearsome band the Peruvian government keeps sending in waves of troops, missiles and helicopters, while the US leaps in with space-based surveillance, military aircraft, dark ops and night raiders, chemical warfare assistance and high tech drones. All this firepower is arrayed against ragtag remnants of what was once a well-organized and very effective rebellion.

 

These survivors fight on, using the vast forests and jungles of the Coca Valley, an area the size of Switzerland, to hide in.

So this is the threat – a hundred tired rebels who are definitely at the end of their Shining Path. Can you imagine, a hundred guys getting together in the mountains almost anywhere else in the world and the central government spending $250 Million a year to try to get rid of the rebels and eradicate a few thousand hectares of croplands at the same time – and failing?

“The Peruvian government’s (2014) counternarcotics strategy includes ambitious goals for eradication, interdiction, and alternative development, and addresses associated issues such as the control of precursor chemicals, organized crime, money laundering, and the rule of law. The Humala Administration increased its counternarcotics budget from $220 million in 2012 to $256 million in 2013. For the first time, Peru contributed $11.6 million towards eradication efforts and concomitant aviation support, which historically has been funded by the United States.” US Department of State

OK, so the Peruvian government spends $256 Million of mostly US money a year to – what – combat terrorism and cocaine trafficking and deal with other related dangers to the children, like free speech?  And the US is right there helping out with money, technology, guns and manpower, just like the US was when the Fujimori government, funded by US foreign aid money, forcibly sterilized hundreds of thousands of Indian women in the 1980s in so-called “population control” programs.

Speaking of terrorism, let’s look at the terrorist activities of the Shining Path guerillas that are being used to justify all this government-initiated violence a little more closely.

So, how big a threat to the peace and tranquility of Peru is the Shining Path, actually? Here’s the US Department of State list of every one of the terrorist incidents involving the Shining Path in 2014. (Don’t worry – it isn’t a real long list)

      1. On April 9, Peruvian police arrested 28 leaders of the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights – a front organization that advocates for the release of imprisoned SL founder Abimael Guzman. Those arrested included two of Guzman’s long-time lawyers, Afredo Crespo and Manuel Fajardo. The 28 were charged with terrorism and terrorist financing using narcotics revenue. On August 4, the National Anti-Terrorism Court, citing lack of evidence, ordered that the 28 be released from pre-trail detention. Although the court ordered the detainees released, it did keep the charges intact so the trial can move forward.
      2. A May 16 clash between security forces and the SL in the Junin region left one SL guerilla dead and another wounded. The rest of the column was able to escape, but soldiers recovered weapons, ammunition, and communication equipment.
      3. On June 17, a combined Peruvian military and police force killed three SL terrorists in the VRAEM emergency zone. The joint patrol recovered a number of weapons, including a heavy machine gun that SL fighters reportedly stripped from a Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter they shot down in a 2009 attack that killed three soldiers.
      4. In August, security forces rescued six adults and three children from a work camp in the VRAEM used by SL to provide food and logistic support for its members.
      5. In August, police officers in the UHV arrested Oscar Silva, who is believed to have been the second-in-command to “Comrade Artemio,” who was captured in February 2012.
      6. In September, soldiers rescued 11 people, including six children, who were being forced to work for SL in Junin’s Satipo district.
      7. On November 2, security forces announced the arrest of Filemon Huillcayaure, considered one of the top financiers of SL in the VRAEM.

OK – there you are. That’s the Peruvian government’s 2014 body count in the US-sponsored War On Narco/Terror in Coca Valley. The totals include: 0 soldiers dead or wounded; 4 SL terrorists killed, 1 wounded; and 20 people including children rescued from slave labor for the Shining Path.

And that’s after a full year of running around this valley the size of Switzerland with thousands of troops, helicopters, attack jets, tanks, HumVees, guns and rockets, and the latest ground, air & space-based surveillance technology courtesy of the US. All this technology and manpower chasing approximately 100 Shining Path guerillas (now minus 4) as they shake down Coca growers, take pot shots at soldiers, hide in the jungle, enslave the occasional villager, and make Coca Base to generate an income.

So, now that we all know how well the “War On The Gang Of 100 Terrorists” is going – how about the “War On Coca Plants”?

Well, according to a 2014 roundup (sic) by the US Dept. of State, Bureau Of International Narcotics And Law Enforcement Affairs

“Peru remained the world’s top potential producer of cocaine for the third consecutive year, and was the second-largest cultivator of coca, with an estimated 50,500 hectares (ha) of coca under cultivation in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available. The majority of cocaine produced in Peru is transported to South American countries for domestic consumption, or for onward shipment to Europe, East Asia, and Mexico via private and commercial aircraft, and land and maritime conveyances. Peru is a major importer of precursor chemicals used for cocaine production.

“ President Ollanta Humala dedicated substantial resources to implement Peru’s 2012-2016 counternarcotics strategy. The strategy calls for a 200 percent increase in the eradication of illicit coca by 2016. The Government of Peru remains on pace to meet its ambitious targets in this area, and in 2013 eradicated in the Monzón River Valley, a hostile area with little state presence, for the first time in decades. Sendero Luminoso (SL or Shining Path) operating in the Apurimac-Ene-Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM) relied on cocaine trafficking for funding, and killed and wounded several police and military personnel during counternarcotics operations.”

Oops. It looks like even with hundreds of millions of dollars, armadas of military-scale technology, thousands of heavily armed soldiers and police, and humungous firepower applied year after year, you still can’t (or conveniently don’t want to) deal with 100 guerillas operating in an area the size of Switzerland, and at the same time in spite of this all-out War you also still have the distinction of being the world’s top potential producer of cocaine for the third consecutive year, and you were the second-largest cultivator of coca in 2014.

This whole US-promoted War On Drugs/War On Terror thing really isn’t working for you is it?

Respectfully, I have a suggestion to offer.

Peru has a world-class renewable natural resource in the Coca plant and the people who have grown it for centuries. Why not go with what you have instead of playing a losing game in return for Yankee dollars? Why not just tell the US to go home, make peace with the Cartels and let them make and export all the Cocaine they want as long as they pay taxes, work with the indigenous people to build a Coca Leaf-based economy throughout the country, build a health industry based on Coca Leaf treatment at spas scattered throughout the mountains, and allow private enterprise to apply the entrepreneurial spirit to development and global sales of Coca-based medicines?

Next, pay off Shining Path and let them go home for God’s sake – including those you are holding in prison. I imagine that $50-$100K per SL guerilla would do it – a total of $5-10 Million (one-time investment) to get the whole hundred of them to lay down their weapons, for which they receive amnesty and a piece of land to grow Coca. And the SL in prison who agree to go home and live peacefully ought to get the same deal.

So Government of Peru, instead of spending hundreds of millions every year on a couple of wars that are going nowhere and aren’t even yours, plus terrorizing whole communities of your People, why not lead the world and declare that Coca is a gift from nature and that the Peruvian government will no longer stand in the way of those who wish to make their living by growing and making products from it – including Cocaine. What the rest of the world thinks shouldn’t matter.

I mean, hey there, government of Peru – don’t you have better things to do than chase 100 members of the Gang Who Can’t Shoot Straight, a bunch of peaceful Coca growers, and gangs of very determined Cocaine makers? Didn’t that US-sponsored clown Fujimori bring down enough evil on Peru to make the government finally decide to work for rather than against the People? If everybody’s happy in Coca Valley who cares what the US thinks?

It can happen. The US isn’t so tough anymore. Just ask your neighbors in Bolivia.


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Poppy Juice, Synthetic Pills, & The Trap Of Addiction

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“The Intercept” has just run an excellent piece outlining the lobbying efforts of the Opioid Manufacturing sector of the Pharmaceutical Industry to scuttle new Federal regulations that would attempt to make it harder for doctors to prescribe Opioid drugs like Oxycontin. The major manufacturers involved in the lobbying are Purdue, Cephalon, Endo, and Janssen (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson).

The efforts of these parasitical manufacturers to maintain open season on the wholesale addicting of new “patients” while at the same time keeping up the flow of millions of tablets of these drugs that somehow manage to leak into the street market ( who, us?), is symptomatic of the thug-like nature of virtually the entire pharmaceutical industry.

When you look at the numbers you see that pills are the main “Opioid” killers, not Heroin, not Morphine, and certainly not Opium from the Poppy, and for all the hype about synthetic Opium pills like Oxy, the job they do of relieving pain is no better than a pipe of good opium. Of the 47,000+ drug overdose deaths counted by the CDC in 2014, 8800 were due to Heroin, which leaves +38,000 due largely to pills.

The single justification for the “Opioid” pill industry’s existence is that their products are claimed to be safer than natural Opium, Morphine, or Heroin. If you want to find the reason for the industry’s panic at the increase in Opioid pill deaths, look at the ratio between deaths from the dreaded slayer of youth Heroin and the supposedly safe if used as directed wonder pill.

If a huge part of your industry’s claim to fame is that your product is safer than the juice of the poppy then you have to be pretty upset when people are finally realizing that your pills are killing users nearly 5:1 compared to the fruits of the little flower.

Consider for a moment two possible tracks for our society – the one we are on and the one that could have been, and yet might be.

The track our society has taken is to turn our health, just like we’ve turned most of the other key aspects of our lives, over to highly intrusive institutional management. Most of us no longer have any management role in our food, our children’s education, our family and community security, our finances, or our privacy. One of the results of our capitulation to pervasive institutional management of our lives is that the exponentially-growing health industry, always quick to spot (or make) an opportunity, responded by creating vast numbers of expensive, enormously profitable drugs for all those astounding new diseases of modern society that patients are required to take by their doctors who give no natural options in place of the medical management system’s proprietary pharmaceuticals.

The second track, which might have been, is that all of the medical knowledge gained by doctors, patients and society at large in the 1700s and especially the 1800s regarding three of the great natural drugs – Opium, Coca and Cannabis – might have been kept and nurtured rather than discarded and largely forgotten. Had those three natural medicinal drugs not been demonized and outlawed as part of the warped spiritual movement of the early 1900s that gave birth first to Prohibition and later to the War On Drugs, these three great natural drugs would be available today as a part of the :People’s Pharmacy” just like hundreds of other herbal, natural medicines.

The industrial pharma industry would still have developed, and a lot of people would still be victims of their concoctions, but without the legal framework lovingly erected over decades by authoritarian conspirators there would be a whole segment of the Medical industry devoted to the use of all natural medicines, not just those permitted by the state as part of its role in enforcing the monopoly of Industrial Pharma over medicinal products.

Even more important, a nationwide, community-bases network of natural medicine practitioners would have evolved – people in every community who knew how to grow all of the ancient medical herbs and who utilized the advances of technology to produce ever-more effective but still natural medicines.

Of course we have a great model for this system in the network of Medical Cannabis growers and patients who are finally emerging after the long night of Prohibition – which is still in the very earliest stages of dawning – to point to and see what might have been for ALL the great natural medicines and not just Cannabis, and not just in a few states in the US and a few countries in the world.

In a society where those who wanted any form of any natural drug could grow and prepare it for themselves, or could go to a reputable dispensary or belong to a regulated collective, then we would certainly have some addicts among these people, but they would be able to lead as normal a life as they chose to live without the constant suffering, pain, and jeopardy of addiction to “illegal drugs” and all the horrors that go with that scene.

People with little income would not be driven to prostitute themselves and do violence to feed a drug habit if the drugs they wanted were freely available in safe, natural forms. It is possible, is it not, that given access to natural drugs in a climate free of violence and exploitation many if not most people could use drugs and still lead a normal life even if trapped in circumstances of poverty.

I believe that centuries of recorded experience in societies worldwide shows that the overwhelming problem with addiction is how society treats addicts. If an addict is free to lead an otherwise productive and normal life, many will do so, and those who won’t would have been lost whether drug laws made them criminals or not.

Perhaps what makes addiction so awful for so many people isn’t what the drug does to them, it’s what society does to them as a consequence of their addiction. The popular image of addiction is what is used to sell all the prevention/intervention programs that flourish around addicted people. Human degradation in every form is shown as a consequence of drug addiction, and many people buy that and think no further. But consider the number of people who are technically addicted who lead normal, productive lives in comparison with those whose lives are supposedly ruined by addiction, you begin to realize that plenty of people are addicted to drugs and other substances and don’t descend to street prostitution, emaciation, bleeding scabs and sleeping in alleys. It seems that one begins to see that maybe it is circumstances and not the drugs themselves that determine the direction that addiction takes. Remove all the harsh punishments for addiction and I wonder – what would happen to addiction?

If the illegal status of drugs and the consequences for addiction were removed, at least drug addiction would no longer be part of the trap that ensnares millions of people in the US. Poverty and exploitation would continue in other ways – unless of course (you never know) some kind of new dynamic was released in poor communities by removing the key role of criminalized drug addiction in keeping the iron collar of poverty and exploitation firmly clamped around their necks.


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How Coca Leaf Could Balance & Heal Our Gut Microbiome

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The scientific and medical literature of the 1800s gives us thousands of case studies primarily from Europe, Canada and the US, as well as somewhat limited published research, on the role of Coca Leaf preparations in treating and healing an impressive range of conditions and diseases.

In these case studies Coca Leaf was almost always consumed by the patient as tea (hot water extract) or tonic (alcohol extract), which means that the initial site of almost all the recorded medical action of Coca Leaf on the body was the human gut.

The same has been true for hundreds of generations in the Andes – they chew Coca first to bathe their gut with the healing, balancing juices, and from there the healing influences radiate throughout their muscular, endocrine and nervous systems.

So according to the historical evidence, the healing action of Coca Leaf appears to be centered in the gut.

Fast forward to today.

We now know that it is the health and balance of an individual’s gut microbiome that determines their overall state of health. We know that when that balance is upset gut diseases occur, and we increasingly understand how metabolic and neurological diseases are linked to disturbances of the gut microbiome.

Human adults carry about six pounds of bacteria in our gut, and in this mass of living organisms there are literally tens of thousands of species – most of them still unidentified. However we do know the major players in the human gut, and increasingly we are finding out that changes in the populations of these major players, plus blooms of pathogenic players like klebsiella and c. dificil, seem increasingly likely to be causing serious human illness.

So it may not be making too much of a speculative leap to say that it is likely that one of the important things that 19th Century science is telling us is that Coca Leaf helps to maintain, and works to restore a healthy gut microbiome, although of course those 19th Century doctors knew nothing of the gut microbiome. But they did know that Coca Leaf preparations worked on a wide range of diseases – better than almost anything else in their apothecary.

It certainly wouldn’t take a major research project to confirm or to disprove what I believe the 19th Century medical literature so clearly suggests. As part of the work I’m doing in trying to find funding for “Centros de Coca Curación” I intend to include funding for research studies in this and related areas, engaging reputable degreed scientific and medical researchers in Peru, Bolivia and any other country where they would be free to conduct their work and publish the results.

Readers of this blog know that in past posts I have engaged in a lot of speculation on the modern implications what 19th Century science knew about the healing properties of pure, natural Coca Leaf. I believe that the richness of the human experience recorded in those days by people of science and medicine can guide us today, lost as we are in the machinations of the pharmaceutical and allopathic medical “industries”.

Isn’t it time to begin demanding that legislators in states that have legalized Medical Cannabis now move to legalize first the import of fresh Coca Leaf and Coca Medicines and also to legalize cultivation of Coca Leaf in the United States for general consumption as well as medical purposes?


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Resisting The War On Drugs In Peru’s Coca Valley

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The BBC has done it again with outstanding photography and gripping first-person stories of the Mochileros who farm and trade Coca in this beautiful valley deep in the Peruvian Andes. The atrocities that the US Drug Laws and our paramilitary War On Drugs have committed in the communities of this remote valley are well-documented in this excellent photo-essay although the crimes and their consequences are implicit rather than explicit. How the people of this beautiful valley live now is well documented here; how they could be living if not for the criminal insanity of the US is left unsaid.

Coca growing goes back to pre-historical times in this valley but the modern world’s insatiable demand for Cocaine has warped traditional Coca Leaf growing into a dangerous mix of guerillas, drug cartels, government agents, and foreign military/covert operations.

The BBC tells this story with a level of story and graphics that takes you directly into the Mochileros’s world and allows you to walk with them on their dangerous path through the mountains with a backpack full of Cocaine.

As I read this story I couldn’t help but wonder what life could be like in this beautiful valley if the people were free to tap into their Andean heritage to make natural coca medicines for the world instead of being forced to work as human mules.

To read BBC’s “Coca Valley” click here.


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A Compelling, Fact-Based Argument For Worldwide Legalization Of Coca Leaf

taita_sonqoThe internet is so deep and wide that no matter how often and how well one searches there is always more to find. I would like to share something I just found with readers of panaceachronicles, in case some of you have not yet read the absolutely stunning article entitled “The Wonders of the Coca Leaf” by Alan Forsberg (2011).

If you have never heard of this remarkable work I am not surprised – neither had I. It seems to have circulated widely in Latin America journals and on Latin American websites but not very much elsewhere in the world. So when I did run across multiple references to it while doing a deep search of some Latin American scientific & medical journals over the weekend and came across at least a dozen links to the article I started trying to download and read it. However when I began following those links – surprise! – most of them were broken and the few that were not 404 somehow froze when I tried to download and read the article. Coincidence, or censorship?

But as almost always happens the censors missed one link, and I was finally able to download the document. I have saved it (offline) just in case you try to access it through this link and find that the link is now mysteriously broken. If that happens let me know and I’ll be happy to send the document to you – with apologies to the author who I am not able to locate to request permission to do so. I will keep looking for Alan, not just to request his permission but also to offer him my profound gratitude for his seminal work.

The article itself is incredibly well-written, thorough, and fully documented, and the hyperlinked bibliography will allow you to browse a wealth of information resources that our society’s keepers would prefer to keep invisible. However, as those of us in the US and the rest of the world awaken and begin to join the fight that the Bolivian people have begun to unshackle this potent natural medicine, this article will provide us with a sharp blade to cut through the evil bullshit that has been piled on the heads of generations of suffering people by the corrupt and manipulative governments, corporations and institutions of the world.

I hope – I know – that you will enjoy reading this work of genius, and will come away from the experience determined to do for Coca Leaf what you have already done for Cannabis.

Here is a glimpse of the table of contents, and a link that I hope works for you.

The Wonders of the Coca Leaf By Alan Forsberg (2011)

Contents

> The Historical Use Value of Coca as a Food and Medicine

> The Traditional Meanings of Coca and its Development as a Symbol of Ethnic Identity

> Coca as a Tool for Social Interaction and Spiritual Protection

> Coca and the Western World: A History of Substance Abuse and Political Pressure

> Development of an International System of Control: Coca Taken Prisoner

> The Social Force of Rebellion behind Coca Deprivation

> A Different Approach to Coca Production – Turning Over a New Leaf

> Suppression of Scientific Research on the Benefits and Uses of the Coca Leaf

> Contemporary Non-traditional Uses of the Leaf: Sharing its benefits with Modern Society

> INCB and the Frontal Assault on Coca

> Coca as an intangible heritage of humanity: Freeing coca from the shackles of international law

> Bibliography

Finally, here is the author’s statement at the conclusion of his essay.

“The overwhelming scientific evidence accumulated in the past 50 years should be enough to allow the international community to correct the historical mistake33 that was made when coca was included on the list of drugs banned by the 1961 Single Convention and coca chewing was slated to be abolished. But there is the danger in the tendency of a reductionist scientific viewpoint to diminish the significance of this complex wonder to merely a chemical compound, a highly nutritious food supplement, or versatile medicine. Equally troubling is the profit-making tendency to want to “add value” by treating this sacred leaf as a raw material to be refined in order to extract a flavoring agent or isolate its notorious alkaloid without recognizing the natural coca leaf’s holistic goodness as well as its sacred and social qualities as an intangible heritage of humanity offered by Andean-Amazonian cultures. The prophetic “Legend of the Coca Leaf” presages us of the difference between the way the leaf is used traditionally in the Andes, and the corrupted form used by Western conquerors. As the Sun God said to the Andean wise man Kjana Chuyma: “[coca] for you shall be strength and life, for your masters it shall be a loathsome and degenerating vice; while for you, natives, it will be an almost spiritual food, for them it shall cause idiocy and madness” (Villamil 1929, Hurtado 2004a).”

“People everywhere need to learn to respect the beneficial and mystical qualities of coca leaf in its natural state and recognize the idiocy and madness behind its prohibition in international law. To do so will require a serious re-evaluation and education campaign to overcome cultural barriers and long held stereotypes. The Bolivian and other Andean governments should discard the INCB directive to “formulate and implement education programs aimed at eliminating coca leaf chewing, as well as other non-medicinal uses of coca leaf” and rather take the time to “educate others about the coca leaf and the need to correct this historical mistake” because, as Virginia Aillón, first secretary to the Bolivian Embassy in Washington states: “Coca is not cocaine. Coca is medicine, food, coca is fundamentally cultural” (Armental 2008, Ledebur 2008 pp.2 & 5).”


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Essential Differences Between Coca & Cocaine

It has been a while since I have posted selections from the Coca Leaf literature of the 19th Century, and I thought that readers of this blog might enjoy browsing some more of the insightful observations of Dr. Golden Mortimer and others on the topic of Coca leaf vs. Cocaine. 

Dr. Mortimer was acutely aware of the controversy regarding the potential dangers of the newly discovered alkaloid Cocaine, as well as the widely accepted efficacy of natural Coca Leaf in the treatment of a wide range of diseases and conditions.

The following comments will give the reader a good perspective on the thinking among physicians of the day on this subject. For more depth see Coca Leaf Papers.

“The action of cocaine has been placed midway between morphine and caffeine. In man the initial effect of Coca is sedative, followed by a rapidly succeeding and long continued stimulation. This may be attributed to the conjoined influence of the associate alkaloids upon the spinal cord and brain, whereby the conducting powers of the spinal cord are more depressed than are the brain centers.

In view of these physiological facts it is unscientific to regard strychnine as an equivalent stimulant to Coca or a remedy which may fulfill the same indications, as erroneously suggested by several correspondents. For immediate stimulation Coca is best administered as a wine, the mild exhilaration of the spirit giving place to the sustaining action of Coca without depression.

 “The action of Coca and cocaine, while similar, is different. Each gives a peculiar sense of well being, but cocaine affects the central nervous system more pronouncedly than does Coca, not – as commonly presumed – because it is Coca in a more concentrated form, but because the associate substances present in Coca, which are important in modifying its action, are not present in cocaine.

The sustaining influence of Coca has been asserted to be due to its anӕsthetic action on the stomach, and to its stimulating effect on brain and nervous system. But the strength-giving properties of Coca, aside from mild stimulation to the central nervous system, are embodied in its associate alkaloids, which directly bear upon the muscular system, as well as the depurative influence which Coca has upon the blood, freeing it from the products of tissue waste. The quality of Coca we have seen is governed by the variety of the leaf, and its action is influenced by the relative proportion of associate alkaloids present.

If these be chiefly cocaine or its homologues the influence is central, while if the predominant alkaloids are cocamine or benzoyl ecgonine, there will be more pronounced influence on muscle. When the associate bodies are present in such proportion as to maintain a balance between the action upon the nervous system and the conjoined action upon the muscular system, the effect of Coca is one of general invigoration.

“It seems curious, when reading of the marvelous properties attributed by so many writers to the influence of Coca leaves, that one familiar with the procedure of the physiological laboratory should have arrived at any such conclusion as that of Dowdeswell, who experimented with Coca upon himself.

After a preliminary observation to determine the effect of food and exercise he used Coca “in all forms, solid, liquid, hot and cold, at all hours, from seven o’clock in the morning until one or two o’clock at night, fasting and after eating, in the course of a month probably consuming a pound of leaves without producing any decided effect.” It did not affect his pupil nor the state of his skin. It occasioned neither drowsiness nor sleeplessness, and none of those subjective effects ascribed to it by others. “It occasioned not the slightest excitement, nor even the feeling of buoyancy and exhilaration which is experienced from mountain air or a draught of spring water.”

His conclusion from this was that Coca was without therapeutic or popular value, and presumed: “The subjective effects asserted may be curious nervous idiosyncrasies.”

This paper, coming so soon after the publication of a previous series of erroneous conclusions made by Alexander Bennett, created a certain prejudice against Coca. Theine, caffeine and theobromine having been proved to be allied substances, this experimenter proceeded to show that cocaine belonged to the same group. As a result of his research he determined that “the action of cocaine upon the eye was to contract the pupil similar to caffeine,” while the latter alkaloid he asserted was a local anesthetic; observations which have never been confirmed by other observers.

In view of our present knowledge of the Coca alkaloids, it seems possible that these experiments may have been made with an impure product in which benzoyl-ecgonine was the more prominent base. However, the absolute error of Bennett’s conclusions has been handed down as though fact, and his findings have been unfortunately quoted by many writers, and even crept into the authoritative books.

Thus Ziemssen’s Cyclopcedia of the Practice of Medicine which is looked upon as a standard by thousands of American physicians, quotes Bennett in saying: “Guaranine and cocaine are nearly, if not quite, identical in their action with theine, caffeine and theobromine.” The National Dispensatory refers to the use of Coca in Peru as being similar to the use of Chinese tea elsewhere – as a mild stimulant and diaphoretic and an aid to digestion – which are mainly the properties of coffee, chocolate and guarana, and Bennett is quoted to prove that the active constituents of all these products: “Although unlike one another and procured from totally different sources possess in common prominent principles, and are not only almost identical in chemical composition, but also appear similar in physiological action.”

“These statements, which are diametrically opposed to the present accepted facts concerning Coca, are not merely a variance of opinion among different observers, but are the careless continuance of early errors, and suggest the long dormant stage in which Coca has remained, and has consequently been falsely represented and taught through sources presumably authentic.

“As may be inferred from its physiological action. Coca as a remedial agent is adapted to a wide sphere of usefulness, and if we accept the hypothesis that the influence of Coca is to free the blood from waste and to repair tissue, we have a ready explanation of its action.

Bartholow says: “It is probable that some of the constituents of Coca are utilized in the economy as food, and that the retardation of tissue-waste is not the sole reason why work may be done by its use which can not be done by the same person without it.”

Stockmann considers that the source of endurance from Coca can hardly depend solely upon the stimulation of the nervous system, but that there must at the same time be an economizing in the bodily exchange. An idea which is further confirmed by the total absence of emaciation or other injurious consequences in the Indians who constantly use Coca. He suggests that “Coca may possibly diminish the consumption of carbohydrates by the muscles during exertion. If this is so, then less oxygen would be required, and there is an explanation of the influence of Coca in relieving breathlessness in ascending mountains.”

Native America’s Greatest Chiefs – A Slideshow

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I thought that after the rather heavy subject matter of my last post on Gulf War Syndrome readers might enjoy something a little less complicated, so I am offering a slideshow of this marvelous collection of portraits and biographies of some of the greatest Native American Chiefs. (You can pause the show anytime by clicking the double vertical bars in the control panel at the bottom, and then re-start by clicking the right-arrow in the same spot.)

As a follow-up to this post I am assembling another slideshow with the images of the great Inca leaders, which I will post as soon as it is complete. Just as Coca was sacred to the Inca, Tobacco was sacred to the Native Americans. Both were considered to be the gift of the Great Spirit and Mama Coca respectively, and while both have been corrupted by the exploitative madness of the white races, the sacred nature of both great spirit plants remains strong.

Respect for others no longer favors the use of Native American images or references in advertising, names of sports teams, or tasteless racist jokes, but many years ago, even at the height of racism in America, the Redman Tobacco Company issued a line of trading cards that were packaged with the company’s Tobacco products that featured the powerful images and impressive biographies of some of the greatest Native American Chiefs.

Remarkably, for the times that these cards were produced, the portraits were dignified and the short biographies were respectfully written. Tobacco trading cards, usually featuring sports heroes, are high-dollar collectibles these days, and a good friend of mine has been collecting the Redman “Chiefs” cards for many years. When I was writing my “Cultivators Handbook of Natural Tobacco” he allowed me to scan some of the best in his collection, and I would like to share these fascinating images with my readers. Some of them appear in the tobacco book but only in B&W, whereas these originals are in full color and are really quite wonderfully detailed. I don’t know about you, but for me, looking at these faces and reading their brief bios, makes these ancient leaders of Native America come alive in my mind.

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