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

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Why Bolivia & Peru Should Sue Merck & Coca Cola

Pizarro Kneels Before Mama Coca Just Before The Slaughter Of The Incas Begins

People of conscience rightfully condemn the Nazi looting of art and cultural artifacts from Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and from homes and museums around Europe. People also rightfully condemn the berserk destruction of cultural and historical treasures in Iraq and Afghanistan by ISIS and the Taliban. Many people also have living memories of colonial genocide and cultural looting of the European empires.

There is a growing body of international law that condemns and demands reparations on the part of former colonial powers like Britain, France, Belgium and The Netherlands whose military and “explorers” looted cultural and historical treasures of Greece, Egypt, Iraq, India, Indonesia, Africa and elsewhere in their Empires. The Spanish are certainly near the top of any list of looters of cultural and historical artifacts with their centuries-long conquest and domination of the Indian civilizations of Latin America.

And of course it can hardly be disputed that the Americans top the list of looters with their genocide against Native Americans and blatant theft of their ancient homelands, along with widespread looting of their cultural and historical artifacts, desecration of their graves, and theft of their cultural heritage. When this history is combined with the destruction and enslavement of entire African civilizations, and the forced obliteration of not only whole families and tribes but whole histories, Americans are definitely at the top of any list of historical and cultural criminals.

All of the victims of these various exercises of colonial avarice, hatred and slaughter are at some stage in seeking reparations. The Greeks want their temples back from the British. The Egyptians want the bones and treasures of their ancient Kings returned. Native Americans are demanding the return of their sacred objects and the bones of their ancestors from the Smithsonian. The Iraqis who have seen their Mesopotamian heritage scattered to the winds for centuries are currently being victimized by a blow-dried reincarnation of Jim & Tammy Faye in the person of the “Christian” owners of the tacky little “Hobby Lobby” chain in the US that is charged with large-scale looting on ancient artifacts in the Middle East. These elaborately coiffed smiley-face Oklahoma faux-Jesus worshipers of course deny everything, pleading that they had no idea that these little ole’ tiles were invaluable cultural artifacts.

Cultures worldwide are demanding the same of museums in France, Belgium and The Netherlands. The Chinese are demanding the return of cultural and historical treasures looted by the American-backed Chiang Kai Shek. American Black people are demanding reparations for the theft and brutalization of their families, cultures and history. Latin American cultures are demanding that Spain , Portugal and the Catholic Church return the wealth in gold, silver, culture and history stolen from them over the centuries of Colonial domination.

However, in the midst of all this worldwide outcry against theft of cultural and historical heritage by force and stealth, at least one enormous crime against Native People has been completely overlooked, and I am proposing that the people of Bolivia and Peru, who are the victims of this particular crime, organize and pursue legal remedy under the same body of international law that has begun to recognize the rights of other Native People worldwide.

The crime I am referring to is the theft of the Coca Plant by the European pharmaceutical industry that, since the 1840’s, has made hundreds of billions of dollars from the theft of this Sacred Plant of the Incas and has not paid one penny in reparation or shared any of the huge profits that this industry has enjoyed for over 150 years. Specifically, I am suggesting that Bolivia and Peru jointly sue the German Pharmaceutical company Merck, which was responsible for first looting Coca Plants from Bolivia and Peru and then extracting the alkaloid Cocaine from those plants, and then making Cocaine the core of the company’s fortunes as it grew into the globally dominant pharmaceutical giant of today.

The Coca Plant is indigenous to only one place in the world – the southern Andes – so Merck cannot claim that they took a plant that was readily available worldwide and simply exercised their scientific genius in producing Cocaine. The plants that Merck used to create mountains of gold from a few green leaves came from only one place, and were the cultural and historical heritage of only one People – the Native peoples who today live in poverty in Andes, remote from even a handful of the wealth so jealously guarded by the German pharmaceutical industry and others worldwide who profit from the cultural heritage of the Incas – companies like Coca Cola, who should also be named in any lawsuit for reparations brought by representatives of the Native People of Bolivia and Peru.

The art looted by the Nazis is being returned to the rightful owners under the law, and the families and descendants of those owners are rightfully being compensated. The stolen art, artifacts and bones of ancient civilizations in Greece, Egypt and elsewhere are gradually being pried loose from the talons of the museums erected by Colonial powers to display their loot. Even the American Smithsonian is finally, reluctantly recognizing that it has no right to make the corpses of Native Americans part of their “display”, and are, while doing a lot of foot-dragging, gradually returning the bones and cultural and historical loot stolen from the Native American people. And although there is enormous opposition among the elite and their toadies toward paying reparations to American Black people, at least there is some movement among American Black people themselves to reclaim parts of their stolen cultural and historical heritage.

So why shouldn’t Merck, Coca Cola and others that have profited from the theft of the heritage of the Incas be taken before the bar of international justice and stripped of at least a major portion of the profits that they have made from the theft of the cultural/historical heritage of the descendants of the Incas? The court of jurisdiction would also be responsible for assuring that the money recovered in the name of the descendants of the Incas was not re-looted by politicians in those countries, and instead went into a closely supervised non-profit international organization that was capped in the top salaries it could pay and the administrative overhead it could charge.

I think that this is the right thing to do, and I think it could be done beginning now. The indigenous People of the Andes have an historic opportunity to force the greedy capitalists of Merck, Coca Cola and other evil corporations to crawl on their knees dragging wagonloads of stolen wealth back to the people who are its rightful owners.


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Campi Flegrei – Not Your Average Nightmare

cfWho hasn’t heard the story of Mount Vesuvius and the immolation of thousands of people in Pompeii? The petrified remains of those people, posed forever in their death agonies, are a popular tourist attraction. “Gosh, look at the pain and suffering on that poor woman’s face. Just imagine ….”

Meanwhile, life goes on in the shadow of the great volcano. Of course Neopolitans are aware that at any moment Vesuvius can and no doubt will erupt again, but meanwhile la dolce vita trumps worries over an event that is in the future somewhere and, anyway, can’t be prevented.

Those of us who are fascinated by stories of the world’s great volcanos have recently been alerted to an even bigger story than the lively magma circulating underneath Vesuvius – the largely ignored story of a huge caldera on the other side of the Bay of Naples named Campi Flegrei.

Do you think that the projections of global winter if Yellowstone erupts, as many believe that it will, are accurate? Well friends and fellow disaster aficionados, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Yet life goes on.

We’re worried about war in the Middle East. We’re disturbed by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We’re tired of hearing about Iraq. We’re eager to see some kind of resolution to Iran’s aggression. We’re afraid that Pakistan and India are going to nuke each other. We’re unhappy over China’s world-class pollution. We’re hoping that the murderous situation in the Philippines will end soon. We’re fed up hearing about the crime and violence in Mexico and Central America. We’re nervous that the San Andreas fault may let go. We don’t trust anything we read in the MSM. And the new American administration either horrifies or excites us. And don’t even get us started on the Heroin epidemic, evil bankers, rampant obesity and lurking terrorists.

Yes indeed, bad shit is happening all over the world

Funny thing though – it’s all irrelevant if Campi Flegrei lets loose. Even though the few headlines that have appeared lately are pretty ominous in that regard, they are NOTHING compared with what the scientists who have been studying Campi Flegrei for the last several decades have to say.
But hey, who has the time to read long-winded scientific studies? Well, maybe you do, and if you do, you might want to set aside an hour or so and really, really focus on this one. Because if these guys are right – and their data looks REALLY solid, then it isn’t going to be long before all those worrisome trouble spots listed above shrink to insignificance underneath the world-wide cloud of fire and ash from Campi Flegrei.

You may want to pay special attention to how closely the data from Campi Flegrei match up with similar gas composition, flow and sequence data from other mega-volcanos that have been studied before they blew. Not on the massive scale of this one, when and if she blows, but the data curves from several previous big, bad boys are eerily close and point to something happening soon.

Beginning with the biggest eruption since the age of the (end of) Dinosaurs, exploding underneath the Bay of Naples, and spreading fire, poisonous gas and ash over most of the Northern Hemisphere in a week or so, this will be an extinction event to end all extinction events.

Global nuclear war? Fuggedaboutit. GNW would be quick and relatively painless compared to the years of freezing, dark, hopeless death by starvation that would be the fate of virtually everyone north of the equator. And no amount of prepping will change fate one little bit except by extending the suffering of the prepared ones. That’s if Campi Flegrei blows while you and I are still among the living. If we are not, we would be able to count ourselves among the lucky ones, if we could.

So, why am I writing a post like this in a blog dedicated to uplifting the spirit of Mama Coca? Because it’s just possible that the Andes mountains that are the home to Mama Coca and her people might survive the extinction of the people of the North, and if that happens then I hope that the Spirit of Mama Coca will keep her people safe, keep them from hunger and sickness, and perhaps enable them to re-build a human civilization that is more human and less satanic than the so-called civilization that the people of the North have inflicted on the world for far too many generations.

If you read what these scientists say, the moment when Campi Flegrei accomplishes what all the wars in history have never achieved is not too far off. And it will happen, when it happens, in the blink of an eye.

The true translation of the famed “Eat, drink and be merry” Epicurean creed is “Eat, drink, and enjoy all the pleasures of the flesh, for after death there will be no more desire.” True, that.

Have a nice day, every day.

For my readers who want to check out the full story, and all the data, here is the citation

Chiodini, G. et al. Magmas near the critical degassing pressure drive volcanic unrest towards a critical state. Nat. Commun. 7, 13712 doi: 10.1038/ncomms13712 (2016)

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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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Resisting The War On Drugs In Peru’s Coca Valley

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)


> 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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God’s Brain

Whether your frame of reference is the stern and vengeful God of the Abrahamic religions, or the loving and nurturing God of the Nature-centered religions, almost all of Man’s spiritual visions have at their center a God with consciousness.

Equally, whether their religion envisioned a male figure dominating the earth from his place in the sky, or a mother/father spirit that inhabits all living creatures as well as the living Earth, most humans conceive of their own consciousness as arising from some organic source, most often “inside” themselves.

Since the beginnings of recorded time, people have also attempted to create images of God – with some notable exceptions like Islam. These images have taken every imaginable form, from the concrete to the abstract.

Like many others, I have often thought about and wondered over the question of cosmic consciousness. In recent years, with the development of technology that enables us to envision the human brain at the most intricate, detailed levels, many people have looked at the brain’s neural network and then looked up at the universe of stars and galaxies and wondered at the apparent similarities.

So without further introduction I would simply like to say that I recently came across a set of images and a short (4 minute) video that completely blew me away and I want to share it with you and the other readers of this blog. The video is at the bottom of the web page linked to above, and I suggest that you get yourself in a receptive state of mind and then go directly to the video, saving the still images and the written description of how the images were created for afterwards.

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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Coca Leaf Tea – A Possible Treatment/Cure for Alzheimer’s & Dementia?

The Scope Of The Problem

While the negative effects of aging on mental performance have been part of the human experience seemingly forever, as with many other diseases and conditions both Alzheimer’s and Dementia seem to be getting more widespread. Whether this is because people are living longer, or because they are being systematically poisoned by our industrial foods, polluted environment, and artificial lifestyles, the outcome is the same – millions of people worldwide spend the last years of their lives in a drooling, hopeless fog.

Please don’t think I am cruel or heartless when I describe the last years of life this way. My wife and I have cared for three of our four parents in our home during their last years and we have first-hand experience with the terrible downsides of the deterioration of mind, body and spirit that aging people (and their families) must endure.

Update! Lisa Gonzalez has just sent me an excellent set of resources that she has complied for caregivers, which I include here with my thanks:

Parent’s Guide: Helping Children & Teens Understand Alzheimer’s

Preparing Your Home for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Guide

Another World: People With Alzheimer’s Share Their Perspectives

Alzheimer’s Aggression: Causes & Management

Guide to Addiction Prevention for Seniors

Dementia Assistance Dogs

Caring for the Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Helping Alzheimer’s Sufferers Cope with the Loss of a Loved One: A Guide for Caregivers

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 5 Million Americans have Alzheimer’s, and 500,000 die each year from causes linked directly to the disease, while 1 out of 3 people die of either Alzheimer’s or one of the other forms of Dementia. Alzheimer’s alone is the 6th leading cause of death in the US. In some ways an even more important stat is that 15.5 million Americans provide 17.7 Billions hours of unpaid care to their elderly family members with these Dementias. This statistic alone means that at a wage level of $10/hour, Alzheimer’s and related Dementias cost the United States $180 Billion in lost productivity – what these 15.5 million care-givers could theoretically make at a minimum wage job rather than caring for their elderly family member without compensation.

A few additional pieces of information before we get into the purpose of this blog post:

1. Almost 65% of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women
2. More than 60% of caregivers for Alzheimer’s and related Dementia victims are women
3. Women are 2.5 times more likely to be providing 24/7 unpaid care for an Alzheimer’s/Dementia victim than men
4. For a women in her 60s, her estimated lifetime risk for Alzheimer’s is 1 in 6, compared with 1 in 11 for breast cancer.
5. It is estimated that by 2050 the number of victims of Alzheimer’s/Dementia in the US alone will triple to nearly 50 million people.

Could There Really Be A Simple Solution?

The conservative answer is – probably not, but maybe.

The optimistic answer, based on what I have learned about the effects of Coca Leaf tea and tonics on mental function – almost certainly yes, at least to some degree.

I believe that Coca Leaf can provide at least a partial solution, and at least some relief from the steady, inexorable deterioration that is the hallmark of these horrendous plagues. Equally important, Coca Leaf can offer at least some relief for those who love those who suffer this terrible, and possibly avoidable fate, and are willing to dedicate their lives to caring for them.

Parenthetically, if you are a caretaker for a parent who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and if your family has the financial means to do so, why not consider taking your parent on a 30 day trip to a nice spa in either Peru or Bolivia, where Coca Leaf Tea is readily available and simply see if 6 cups a day might make a difference? If you do, please document the results and let me know so that I can share them on this blog. In a few months I plan to set up a CrowdSourcing campaign on either Indiegogo or KickStarter to raise funds to allow me to go to Peru and Bolivia and set up a network of participating spas, therapists, healers and physicians for families who could benefit from 30 days of CLT treatment, but in the meanwhile if you are caring for a loved one with the beginnings of this terrible condition and can afford the trip, please consider trying this approach.

OK – big claims here. What’s the evidence? For that we have to look at the research and writings of physicians and scientists from the 1800s who were working and healing people using Coca Leaf tea and tonics long before Alzheimer’s was a known diagnosis, but who were intimately familiar with the process of mental deterioration with age.

The following brief citations are just a small selection of the observations of many talented physicians and scientists writing primarily in the 1800s about their experiences in treating people for a wide range of diseases and conditions with Coca Leaf. If you would like to browse an extensive collection of these writings, along with an equally extensive bibliography that I’ve hyperlinked to original source materials from the 1700s and 1800s, you’ll probably find my ebook “The Coca leaf Papers” worth reading.

“Erythroxylon Coca: A Treatise On Brain Exhaustion As The Cause Of Disease”, By William Tibbles, MD (1877)

Case 3. In 1875, a lady aged 78 years was suffering from extreme debility with sickness, faintness, loss of memory, and fretfulness; her friends expected every hour her decease, but, to the surprise and wonder of her friends, after a month’s treatment with coca she was restored to her usual health and activity.

I have, with success, treated hundreds of cases of debility, of which the above are examples. In some cases I have used “cocaine”, the active principle of Erythroxylon coca. I can fully endorse the statements of the scientific gentlemen quoted in your article in respect to the efficacy of coca in prolonged exertion.

“An Essay On Erythrolylon Coca” (in) “A New Form Of Nervous Disease” By W.S. Searle, M.D. (1881)

Coca regulates and greatly assists in maintaining that equilibrium of action of the heart and capillary circulation, which is so necessary to the maintenance of an un-exhausted state of the body. The muscles brought into action during the performance of manual labour are frequently eager for a greatly increased supply of arterial blood. To supply this increased want of blood necessarily entails an increase of vaso-motor action; thus in persons who have to make a little extra muscular exertion, the capillary vessels will necessarily dilate excessively, and if the action of the heart does not correspondingly increase in frequency and force, the tension of the vessels will fall, and if, in such a case, the pulse be felt, the artery conveys the sensation of a double or rebounding pulse. If, on the other hand, the heart be working excitedly, as when an individual receives some exciting impressions during the time he is performing simple labour which does not require a great increase in the supply of blood to the muscles; or, in other words, while the muscles do not require a supply of blood much greater than on ordinary occasions, the tension of the arteries, or the force of the blood contained in them, may be greatly raised, and the amount of heart-work further increased in order to force the circulation of the blood at the increased speed.

Mental labour is frequently productive of such arterial tension – an exhausted Brain, whereby its influence over the heart’s action is diminished, will give rise to it; the diminution of nervous influence over the excretory organs whereby an increased amount of urea is produced and collected in the blood will give rise to it; as will also abnormal nutrition during exertion. These variations are abnormal and give rise to ill effects. In extremely low tension of the arterial and capillary vessels, the increased supply of blood to the muscles causes anemia of (being a deficiency of supply of blood to) the brain, and there is produced a feeling of fatigue, giddiness, or fainting. In this condition there is abnormal rise in the internal temperature. On the other hand, if the arterial tension be increased, then the strain will fall upon the heart, which will become overtaxed, dilated, and in some cases entire failure will be produced, either by over-distention and paralysis, or, by gradually increasing signs of dilatation, producing breathlessness, a sensation of lightness in the head, coldness of the extremities, pallor of face, anxious expression, and the temperature is abnormally decreased. These are the results of discordant action of the circulatory system, produced by exertion or excitement.

It may be asked, what has all this to do with the action of coca-leaf? Well, it is found by experiment that coca-leaf regulates the action of the heart and circulatory system and thereby nearly altogether preventing such results as above recorded as the consequence of muscular exertion or mental excitement.”

“An Essay On Erythrolylon Coca” (in) “A New Form Of Nervous Disease” By W.S. Searle, M.D. (1881)

Now to the question as to how and in what manner coca-leaf accomplishes the results which are consequent upon its use. It has been shown that all the various processes are under the influence and governance of the force conveyed through the medium of the brain, spinal cord, and their continuations – the nerves. Such being the case we may justly infer that Erythroxylon Coca influences the various functions by its action upon the great centres of the body; for it is only through these that a restorative action can be induced.

What I here want to show is that coca-leaf produces these results by imparting nerve food which is converted into nervous energy and thus increasing the total amount of nervous energy and consequent governing force. The functions of the nerves are only restored, when they have become exhausted by physical or mental toil or disease, till after rest etc., proportioned to the amount of exhaustion. And if it can be shown, as we have done, that coca-leaf is capable of either retarding or preventing the condition of exhaustion, and likewise of restoring an actually exhausted body; and if this can only be done by restoring the natural or normal condition of the brain and nervous system, then, we may fairly conclude that the results proved to be consequent upon the use of Erythroxylon coca are brought about simply and only by its imparting to that centre and diverging branches an amount of force which otherwise might only be obtained after partaking of rest and other things proportioned to the exhaustion.

It is evident, therefore, that the prevention of that vacillating action of the internal organs generally consequent upon exertion, and likewise that the restorative action in cases of physical or mental exhaustion and in disease, is due to this increase in the governing force of the nervous system.

Editor’s Note: Perhaps it isn’t so far-fetched to think that Coca Leaf tea could play an important role in treating Alzheimer’s when you consider the following two research studies on other natural medicinal plants. Neither of these studies deal with Coca, of course, but the fact that there appear to be multiple promising natural medicines from various parts of the world argues in a powerful way for testing of the potential of Coca for this purpose.

Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2014 Jun 24. pii: S0378-8741(14)00494-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2014.06.046. [Epub ahead of print]

Screening and identification of neuroprotective compounds relevant to Alzheimer׳s disease from medicinal plants of S. Tomé e Príncipe.


Alzheimer׳s disease (AD) neuropathology is strongly associated with the activation of inflammatory pathways, and long-term use of anti-inflammatory drugs reduces the risk of developing the disease. In S. Tomé e Príncipe (STP), several medicinal plants are used both for their positive effects in the nervous system (treatment of mental disorders, analgesics) and their anti-inflammatory properties. The goal of this study was to determine whether a phenotypic, cell-based screening approach can be applied to selected plants from STP (Voacanga africana, Tarenna nitiduloides, Sacosperma paniculatum, Psychotria principensis, Psychotria subobliqua) in order to identify natural compounds with multiple biological activities of interest for AD therapeutics.

Plant hydroethanolic extracts were prepared and tested in a panel of phenotypic screening assays that reflect multiple neurotoxicity pathways relevant to AD-oxytosis in hippocampal nerve cells, in vitro ischemia, intracellular amyloid toxicity, inhibition of microglial inflammation and nerve cell differentiation. HPLC fractions from the extract that performed the best in all of the assays were tested in the oxytosis assay, our primary screen, and the most protective fraction was analyzed by mass spectrometry. The predominant compound was purified, its identity confirmed by ESI mass spectrometry and NMR, and then tested in all of the screening assays to determine its efficacy.

An extract from the bark of Voacanga africana was more protective than any other plant extract in all of the assays (EC50s≤2.4µg/mL). The HPLC fraction from the extract that was most protective against oxytosis contained the alkaloid voacamine (MW=704.90) as the predominant compound. Purified voacamine was very protective at low doses in all of the assays (EC50s≤3.4µM).

These findings validate the use of our phenotypic screening, cell-based assays to identify potential compounds to treat AD from plant extracts with ethnopharmacological relevance. Our study identifies the alkaloid voacamine as a major compound in Voacanga africana with potent neuroprotective activities in these assays.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2014 Mar 28;152(3):403-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.12.053. Epub 2014 Jan 9.

The treatment of Alzheimer’s disease using Chinese medicinal plants: from disease models to potential clinical applications.


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by the sustained higher nervous disorders of the activities and functions of the brain. Due to its heavy burden on society and the patients’ families, it is urgent to review the treatments for AD to provide basic data for further research and new drug development. Among these treatments, Chinese Material Medica (CMM) has been traditionally clinical used in China to treat AD for a long time with obvious efficacy. With the further research reports of CMM, new therapeutic materials may be recovered from troves of CMM. However, So far, little or no review work has been reported to conclude anti-AD drugs from CMM in literature. Therefore, a systematic introduction of CMM anti-AD research progress is of great importance and necessity. This paper strives to systematically describe the progress of CMM in the treatment of AD, and lays a basis data for anti-AD drug development from CMM, and provides the essential theoretical support for the further development and utilization of CMM resources through a more comprehensive research of the variety of databases regarding CMM anti-AD effects reports.

Literature survey was performed via electronic search (SciFinder®, Pubmed®, Google Scholar and Web of Science) on papers and patents and by systematic research in ethnopharmacological literature at various university libraries.

This review mainly introduces the current research on the Chinese Material Medica (CMM) theoretical research on Alzheimer’s disease (AD), anti-AD active constituent of CMM, anti-AD effects on AD models, anti-AD mechanism of CMM, and anti-AD effect of CMM formula.

Scholars around the world have made studies on the anti-AD molecular mechanism of CMM from different pathways, and have made substantial progress. The progress not only enriched the anti-AD theory of CMM, but also provided clinical practical significance and development prospects in using CMM to treat AD. Western pure drugs cannot replace the advantages of CMM in the anti-AD aspect. Therefore, in the near future, the development of CMM anti-AD drugs with a more clearly role and practical data will be a major trend in the field of AD drug development, and it will promote the use of CMM.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.


Mama Coca Murdered In The Name Of Jesus

Editor’s Note: Many readers of this blog will already be familiar with the atrocities committed by the Spanish during their conquest of Mexico. The collusion of the Catholic Church in these atrocities is also well-documented, as is the barbaric behavior of both the Conquistadors and the Priests toward the conquered Mexicans. Anyone not fully familiar with this part of the story of how the cockroaches of Europe spread their diseased minds and greedy doctrines throughout the “New World” can do no better than to read “The Journals Of Bernal Diaz”, whose chronicles of the Cortez conquest of Mexico are among the few reasonably accurate descriptions we have from that awful period. Click here for Volume #1, and Click here for Volume #2

However, as grossly cruel and barbaric as the Spanish conquest of Mexico undoubtedly was, and as complicit as the Catholic Church and its corrupt priesthood was in the slaughter and exploitation, the suffering inflicted upon Mexico was nothing compared with that inflicted on Peru, and the diseased and evil soul of the Priesthood displayed in Mexico was multiplied many times over with the Inca in Peru. Whereas in Mexico the priests of the Church followed behind the Conquistadors and exploited the chaos that they created, in Peru the priesthood initiated and energetically led the bloodshed and exploitation. The Conquistadors themselves were the original “Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight”, evil little clowns and drunkards pretending to be soldiers. In a long and shameful history, the satanic behavior and deliberately genocidal policies of the Church in Peru mark a disgusting low point in the annals of this criminal institution whose impact has persisted to this day.

The following relatively brief excerpts from Dr. Mortimer’s 1901 “History Of Coca” will, I hope, whet the appetite of readers of this blog to pursue the story by going to the dozens of original source materials that are hyperlinked in the bibliography that is offered inThe Coca leaf Papers”. Within these original source materials you’ll find historically accurate and detailed accounts of the generations-long exploitation of the indigenous people of the Andes, which continues to a large extent even today through a feudal land-ownership and class system that has given rise, in recent times, to revolutionary movements such as El Sendaro Luminoso – The Shining Path. The fact that this revolutionary movement, like all others in Latin America, has been compromised and undercut by the Great Satan to the North through the use of mercenaries and paid assassins should not and does not take away from its historical legitimacy as a protest against exploitation and cruelty.

What follows is a brief description of the origins of the centuries of the suffering that continues to this day, and that drives the bravest among the indigenous peoples of the Andes to continue to resist by all means possible the evil and corruption that was brought to their lands so many centuries ago.

This Post Excerpted from “The History of Coca”, Chapter Three, by Dr. William Mortimer, MD (1901)

Mama Coca And the First Inca Survey Her Domain

We Come In Peace

In November, 1532, hearing that Atahualpa, with his army, was in the neighboring mountains, Pizarro crossed the desert of Sechura, and a sort of triumphal march was continued toward the interior directly to the Inca’s camp. As his troops passed on, the natives were baptized into the church, and assumed solemn vows which they could not understand, but it was sufficient that they had accepted the faith. Atahualpa learning of Pizarro’s approach – presumably supposed that so small a body could only be coming upon friendly terms – so sent a messenger with greetings to inform him that the Inca would on the following day visit him in person. In the meantime the freedom of Caxamarca was extended to the invaders, and the use of the public buildings was offered for the  troops.

Pizarro concealed his forces while awaiting the sovereign, who was borne in great state upon the royal litter, was clothed in Incan splendor, a chuspa of Coca hung at his side, golden sandals were upon his feet, and his head bore the stately insignia of power – the llauta and borla of scarlet fringe, with the royal feathers of the sacred bird. He was accompanied by a numerous retinue of nobles of his court and thousands of followers.

Friar Vicente de Valverde, the ecclesiastical head of the Spaniards, acted as spokesman, and explained through his interpreters that their little band had visited this far-off land for the sake of establishing the true religion and converting the natives. He beseeched the Inca to at once acknowledge the faith and allegiance to the king, Charles the Fifth.  Authority for all this he attempted to show in a Bible which he offered to Atahualpa, but the latter, saying he recognized no other king than himself, indignantly threw the book to the ground, which the vengeful friar seemed to recognize as an  affront sufficient to provoke hostilities, for he shouted, “Fall on! I absolve you”, when at once the most terrible onslaught upon the unsuspecting Incas was commenced. The Spanish officers being mounted, were enabled to do some frightful work, while the troops, armed with death-dealing arquebuses, literally vomited fire upon the natives, who were massacred by thousands, while not one of the invading party was injured save Pizarro, who received a slight wound from his own men while shielding the Inca, who was taken prisoner. The monarch was at first treated with courtesy, and permitted to retain his people about him. Pizarro, ever awake to some politic move, hinted upon the advisability of adjusting the affairs of the brothers amicably, but the imprisoned chief, not realizing his own danger, became alarmed at such a suggestion, and secretly dispatched orders to assassinate Huascar, who was then a prisoner in Atahualpa’s army. Nor had his brother received very courteous treatment at the hands of the rival forces, for they put a rope around his neck and called him Coca hachu – Coca chewer – besides offering him many other  affronts, while they gave him Chillea – Bacchaus scandeus – leaves to eat instead of Coca. This so outraged Huascar that he raised his eyes to heaven and cried: “O Lord and Creator, how is it possible ? Why hast thou sent me these burdens and troubles?”


In The Name Of The “True Religion”, The Spanish Slaughter The Welcoming Inca Royalty

Now commenced the downfall of the Empire of the Incas. Atahualpa, chafing under restraint, suggested paying for his ransom with as much gold as the room in which he was imprisoned would hold; and as that space was seventeen feet broad by twenty-two feet long, and was to be filled to a height of nine feet, the Spaniards were only too ready to agree to his proposition. But even their most sordid expectations had not pictured the vast store of riches which, at the command of the Inca, was at once brought to them from all sections of the country. It literally poured in a golden stream of vases, vessels, utensils, ornaments, the golden Coca shrubs from the temples, immense plaques, and golden animals, and statues of life-size, and in nuggets and golden dust. All this did not seem enough to satisfy the greed of the conqueror. Instead of freeing Atahualpa, who had shown too keen a wit to be permitted at liberty, it was decided to make away with him. He was charged with the murder of his brother, and after a hasty trial was condemned to death. In August, 1533, after receiving the last rites of the Church, he was executed in the square of Caxamarca by the garrote, as a distinctive torture to being burned alive in consideration for his having at the last moment submitted to baptism. The following day, amidst the most impressive solemnity, the service for the dead being performed by Father Valverde, the body of the Incan sovereign was buried, Pizarro and his principal cavaliers assuming mourning as hypocritical emblems of their grief at the loss of this mighty lord. The greatest lawlessness now commenced, and booty was free among the Spaniards. Villages were destroyed, houses were ransacked, and the gorgeous temples and palaces were plundered.

Pizarro advanced rapidly to Cuzco, but little of its golden splendor was now left. The cupidity of the invaders had over-leaped itself, for as the Peruvians saw that the sole desire of the Spanish was for gold, they secreted the beautifully wrought golden emblems of Coca and other elaborate workings of the precious metal, together with the sacred vessels and the venerated bodies of the Incas which had been set up in the Temple of the Sun. From that day to this these treasures have never been fully recovered, although some years later Polo Ondegardo, while Corregidor of Cuzco, found five mummies in a tomb in the mountains, three of them men and two women. These were said to be the bodies of the Incas  Viracocha, Tupac Inca Yupanqui, and Huaynia Ccapac, together with Mama Runtu, the queen of the first named, and Ccoya Mama Ocllo, mother of the last. Each of the bodies was well preserved, even the hair with the eyebrows and lashes remaining, while the peculiar wrappings and the sacred llauta about the forehead, betokened their rank. These bodies were conveyed to Lima, where they were buried with appropriate rites in the courtyard of the hospital of San Andres.

Pearls Cast Among Swine

When the first vast treasure of capture was divided among the officers and followers of the conquerors, each of the invaders was allotted a fortune, and Hernando Pizarro was dispatched to Spain with the royal fifth. The amount taken to the Crown proved sufficient to establish this new country in the name of the king, who magnanimously divided it into New Castile in the north, which was assigned to Pizarro, and New Toledo south of that, which was given to the control of Almagro. So bloated were the Spaniards with their newly acquired riches that the most ordinary commodities were paid for in fabulous sums, and many anecdotes are related of this prodigality of wealth. The men fell into riotous living, spent their days in lawlessness and their nights in gambling, the stakes at these bouts often being for whole fortunes. In one  of these orgies the massive emblem of the Sun, taken from the Temple at Cuzco, was staked and lost at a single throw by the cavalier to whom it had fallen in the division of the spoils, from which an after allusion of arrant profligacy was referred to as: “He gambles away the sun in a night.”

It is recorded that when Atahualpa was imprisoned one of the priests wrote the name of God at his request upon the Inca’s finger nail. This he showed to several of the guards, who, upon their pronouncing the name correctly, it excited his admiration and astonishment that characters so unintelligible to him could be read by the Spaniards. On showing the name to Pizarro – who could neither read nor write – he remained silent, and by thus displaying his ignorance provoked a contempt which his prisoner could not well conceal. It has been asserted that it was through pique at this incident that determined an approval to the Inca’s death.

The Empire of the Incas being now without a chief, fell into confusion, and the governors of the several provinces each set up an independence, which Pizarro was quick to appreciate would be more difficult to overthrow than to conquer the country under one revered ruler whom he might influence through  stratagem. He therefore determined to install Manco, the legitimate brother of Huascar, who had already placed himself under his protection, and he was established as the successor and sovereign Inca amidst all the ancient splendor and formality that such an occasion might demand. So much harmony had been occasioned by this shrewd course that it now seemed as though the whole country might proclaim allegiance to Pizarro’s guardianship, but the avarice of the invaders had not yet been appeased by the gold they had received. Their persistent search for treasure, which did not respect even the sacred buildings and palaces, proved to the Indians the new religion was not one of peace, but rather suggested they were to be reduced from their former freedom and happy state to become the mere slaves of a body of tyrants. A succession of internal wars now commenced, and the Incas, led by Manco,  took a final stand at Cuzco, which they battled so nobly to defend that for a time it seemed the Spaniards must be routed, but the ultimate result was the complete overthrow of the Incan Empire, and Manco, chagrined and humiliated by his defeat, escaped to the mountains near Vilcabamba, where he maintained a sort of regal independence with a few loyal followers, until his death in 1544. After the overthrow of Cuzco,  Pizarro, desiring a location near the coast in easier communication with Panama, established the seat of his government on the river Rimac, and the new capital was named Ciudad de  Los Reyes – City of the Kings – in honor of the sovereigns of  Spain, the modern name, Lima, being a corruption of Rimac.

And here the conqueror, enthroned in power, took to him Añas, the daughter of Atahualpa, by whom he had a son – Francisco, who became a schoolmate of the Incan historian, Garcilasso de la Vega, but died young in Spain. As though to unite his name more profoundly with the Incan race, Pizarro took also the sister of Huascar, who bore him two children, a son, who died young, and a daughter, Francisca, who  in after years married his brother, Hernando, in Spain. As if by marriage and intermarriage the invaders might atone for the destruction of a mighty race.

For a complete historical narrative of this disgraceful period in the European conquest of the “New World” please seeThe Coca Leaf Papers“. 

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Early Spanish Encounters With The Divine Plant

This passage from Dr. William Mortimer’s classic “History of Coca” will give you some idea of the diversity of experiences that the early Spanish had with the divine plant that formed the basis of Inca Empire’s religious, economic and social life. As you can see, some were contemptuous, and some were ignorant, but many were also enlightened and some were overwhelmed with visions of the potential of this plant for both commerce and for the healing arts. 

The Incas regarded Coca as a symbol of divinity, and originally its use was confined exclusively to the royal family. The sovereign could show no higher mark of esteem than to gift of this precious leaf upon those he wished to endow with an especial mark of royal favor. So when neighboring tribes who had been conquered by the Incas, acknowledged their subjection and allegiance, their chiefs were welcomed with the rank of nobles to this new alliance and accorded such honors and hospitalities as gifts of rich stuffs, women and bales of Coca might impress.  

At the time of Mayta Ccapac – the fourth Inca, his queen was designated Mama Coca – “the mother of Coca,” as the most sacred title which could be bestowed upon her. From so exalted a consideration of the plant by royal favor, it was but a natural sequence that the mass of the people should regard Coca as an object for adoration worthy to be deemed “divine.”   

Cristoval Molina, a priest at the  hospital for the natives at Cuzco, from whose work we have drawn our account of the rites and festivals of the Incas, related the method of using Coca by high priests in conducting sacrifices, as Cieza with the material instinct of the soldier, saw only the physical or  superstitious element in the use of Coca  among the Indians, so this priest traced for us its spiritual association with the ceremonies of the people. Thus there was early interwoven the factors of prejudice and superstition, a popular adoration of the masses, and a blending of these with a religious regard for Coca, for the teachings of the Church were engrafted upon existing customs in order to hold the people.  

The first scientific knowledge of Coca published in Europe was embodied in the writings of Nicolas Monardes, a physician of Seville, in 1565, from material possibly gained from Cieza, though it would seem that he had intimately examined the Coca shrub. A translation of this work was made a few years later by Charles l’Ecluse – a botanist and director of the Emperor’s Garden at Vienna – which was published in Latin at Antwerp, and this is often quoted as the earliest botanical reference to Coca. The Kew Library possesses a translation of this book, “made into English” by John Frampton and printed in black letter with the curious title:  “Joyful News out of the Newe Founde Worlde, wherein is declared the Virtues of Hearbes, Treez, Oyales, Plantes and  Stones”.  

As showing the discernment in this botanical description of Coca made so many years ago, it may not be uninteresting to read a paragraph translated from the very language of Monardes :  

“This plant Coca has been celebrated for many years among the Indians, and they sow and cultivate it with much care and industry, because they all apply it daily to their use and pleasure. It is indeed of the height of two outstretched arms, its leaves somewhat like myrtle, but larger and more succulent and green (and they have, as it were, drawn in the middle of them another leaf of similar shape); its fruit collected together in a cluster, which, like myrtle fruit, becomes red when ripening and of the same size, and when quite ripe it is black in color. When the time of the harvest of the leaves arrives, they are collected in baskets with other things to make them dry, that they may be better preserved, and may be carried to other places.”

This description will hold equally good to-day. The peculiar leaf within a leaf arrangement formed by the curved lines on either side of the midrib, being a marked characteristic of Coca. When Hernando Pizarro returned to the court of his king, with the first fruits of the golden harvest from the New World, he probably took with him specimens of Coca. This plant could not have failed to have awakened at least the curiosity of the invaders, because of the numerous golden duplications of the Coca shrub and of its leaf that had been found in the gardens of the Temples of the Sun, at Cuzco and elsewhere among the royal domains of the Incas. So that whatever the prejudices may have been regarding the use to which  Coca was put by the Indians, these golden images at least would prove sufficient to excite admiration and comment.  

Another voluminous writer upon the early Peruvians is Joseph de Acosta, a Jesuit missionary who made a passage across the Atlantic in 1570, which he assures us: “would have been more rapid if the mariners had made more sail.”  After his arrival at Lima he crossed the Andes by the lofty pass of Pariacaca to join the Viceroy Toledo, with whom he visited every province. In the higher altitudes of the mountains the party suffered severely from the effects of the rarefied atmosphere, with which he was afterwards prostrated upon three successive occasions, while he also was severely annoyed from snow blindness, for which he relates a homely remedy offered him by an Indian woman, who gave him a piece of the flesh of the vicuña, saying, “Father, lay this to thine eyes, and thou shalt be cured.” He says: “It was newly killed and  bloody, yet I used the medicine, and presently the pain ceased, and soon after went quite away.”

Of Necessity, Some Spaniards Begin To See The Light 

Father Acosta was a man of great learning, an intelligent observer, and had exceptional opportunities for collecting his information. His work on the Natural History of the Indies ranks among the higher authorities. He has given a very extensive description of Coca, and, referring to its employment, says: “They bring it commonly from the valleys of the Andes, where there is an extreme heat and where it rains continually the most part of the year, wherein the Indians endure much labor and pain to entertain it, and often many die. For that they go from the Sierra and colde places to till and gather them in the valleys; and therefore there has been great question and diversity of opinion among learned men whether it were more expedient to pull up these trees or let them grow, but in the end they remained. The Indians esteemed it much, and in the time of the Incas it was not lawful for any of the common people to use this Coca without license from the Governor. They say it gives them great courage, and is very pleasing unto them. Many grave men hold this as a superstition and a mere imagination. For my part, and to speak the truth, I persuade not myself that it is an imagination, but contrawise I think it works and gives force and  courage to the Indians, for we see the effects which cannot be attributed to imagination, so as to go some days without meat, but only a handful of Coca, and other like effects. The sauce wherewith they do eat this Coca is proper enough, whereof I have tasted, and it is like the taste of leather. The Indians mingle it with the ashes of bones, burnt and beat into powder, or with lime, as others affirme, which seemeth to them pleasing and of good taste, and they say it doeth them much good. They willingly imploy their money therein and use it as money; yet all these things were not inconvenient, were not the hazard of the trafficke thereof, wherein so many men are occupied. The Lords Yncas used Coca as a delicate and royall  thing, which they offered most in their sacrifice, burning it in honor of their idols.” Again, when speaking of the importance of the trade in Coca, he says: ”It seems almost fabulous, but in truth the trafficke of Coca in Potosi doth yearly amount to above half a million of dollars; for that they use four score and ten or four score and fifteen thousand baskets every year.”

This extensive mining centre in the southern part of Bolivia is some three hundred miles south of Sandia, which is today the very heart of the Coca region of Caravaya. These mines were at an altitude of seventeen thousand feet, and Garcilasso says the Indians applied the term Potosi, literally “a hill” to all hills. In the Aymara tongue Potosi means, “he who makes a noise” and the Indians have a legend which suggests the derivation of the name from such a source. When  Iluayna Ccapac caused his people to search this mountain for silver, a great noise came from the hills warning the Indians away, as the protecting genius destined these riches for other masters. Within a short time after the Incas had discovered silver here over seven thousand Indians were at work mining the precious ore.    

Once the Spanish were secure in their governance they forced the Indians to labor in veritable slavery through an enactment which drafted a certain number from each of the adjoining provinces. This law, known as the mitta, instituted under Toledo, required all Indians between the ages of eighteen and fifty to contribute a certain labor, which amounted to eighteen months during the thirty-two years in which they were liable. For this they were paid twenty reals a week, and a half real additional for every league distant from the village of Potosi. During the year 1573 the draft of Indians for this labor amounted to 11,199,  while a hundred years later – in 1673 – it drew only 1,674, showing that cruelty and hardship had depopulated the province nearly ninety per cent.

So extensive were the mining operations at Potosi that the place had the appearance of a great city. Every Saturday the silver was melted down and the royal fifth was set aside for the Spanish crown, and although this amounted during the  years 1548 to 1551 to three million ducats, it was considered the mines were not well worked. In those times the markets or fairs were important functions, and that of Potosi was looked upon as the greatest in the world. It was held in the plains near the town, and there the transactions in one day were said to amount to from twenty-five to thirty thousand golden pesos. Coca being a prominent commodity in the reckoning, owing to its absolute necessity in the arduous work exacted from the Indians.

Because of this need the highest price was obtained for Coca in this region, where every indication was presented for its use – the extreme altitude of the mines, the mental dejection of slavery, and the enforced muscular task of the Indian with insufficient food. This labor was found to be utterly impossible without the use of Coca, so that the Indians were supplied with the leaves by their masters, just as so much fuel might be fed to an engine in order to produce a given amount of work. Garcilasso tells us that in 1548 the workers in these mines consumed 100,000 cestas of Coca, which were valued at 500,000 piasters.  

This absolute necessity was the sole reason for the Spanish tolerance to the continuance of Coca; they saw that it was indirectly to them a source of wealth, through enabling the Indians to do more work in the mines. As the demands of labor increased the call for Coca, situations for new cocals, where a supply of the plant could be raised to meet this want, were pushed further to the east of the Andes, in the region of the Montaña. To make favorable clearings numerous tribes of savage Indians, who had not been previously subdued by the Incas were driven from the Peruvian tributaries of the Amazon further into the forests.  

Agustin de Zarate, who was contador real or royal comptroller, under the first Viceroy, Blasco Nuñez Vela, in his history of the discoveries of Peru, in writing of Coca, says: “In  certain valleys, among the mountains, the heat is marvellous, and there groweth a certain herb called Coca, which the Indians do esteem more than gold or silver; the leaves thereof are like unto Zamake (sumach); the virtue of this herb, found by experience, is that any man having these leaves in his mouth hath never hunger nor thirst.”  

Garcilasso Inca de la Vega – as he delighted in terming himself – has very rightly been classed as an eminent authority on Incan subjects. His father, who was of proud Spanish ancestry, illustrious both in arms and literature, came to Peru shortly after the Conquest, served under Pizarro, and after the overthrow of the empire, when the Incan maidens were assigned to various Spanish officers, his choice fell upon the  niece of Inca Huayna Ccapac, who in some manner had been preserved from the massacre which had followed upon the death of her cousin, Atahualpa. It seems fitting that a son of such parentage should embody in his writings facts which he had obtained from both branches of the family tree, and because of this his work is accepted as a reliable presentation.

That this Incan author was well qualified to speak upon Coca there can be no doubt, for he owned an extensive cocal on the River Tunu, one of the tributaries of the Beni – which drains the Montaña for Pancartambo – where there are still numerous cocals. This plantation was started in the twelfth century during the reign of Inca Rocca, when that king sent his son with fifteen thousand warriors to conquer the savage tribes of Anti-suyu.  

Lloque Yupanqui advanced to the River Paucartambo and thence to Pillcu-pata, where four villages were founded, and from Pillcu-pata he marched to Havisca, and here in the year 1197 was located the first Coca plantation of the Montaña on the eastern base of the Andes. This Incan plantation became an inheritance of Garcilasso from his father, but was forfeited by the historian because of his parent’s early defection to the cause of Gonzalo.

And Then The Light Begins To Take Effect

The work of Garcilasso is interesting as embracing with the relation of others that of Father Bias Valera, whose manuscripts have since been lost, and in this embodied record we have the only available account of one who was a close observer of Incan customs during a residence of many years in  Peru. To the peculiar wording of the work of this author we may trace an oft-repeated error regarding the Coca shrub, which he describes as “a bush of the height and thickness of the vine.” Whether this designation of vine refers to the grape, which in some vineyards is grown as a low clump resembling a bush, or whether the term vine simply alludes to the delicate nature of the Coca shrub, can only be inferred. It has introduced a source of inaccuracy among some who have since drawn their description of the plant from this record. One author has even amplified this early comparison by saying that the Coca bush “twines about other plants for support.  

Valera, in describing the leaves of Coca, says: “They are known by Indians and Spaniards alike as Cuca, delicate, though not soft, of the width of the thumb and as long as half a thumb’s length, and of a pleasant smell.” In his day the Indians were so fond of Coca that they preferred it to gold, silver and precious stones. He has given us a careful account of the diligence which is necessary in the several stages of its  cultivation and the importance of the final gathering of the leaves, which he says, “they pick one by one by hand and dry them in the sun.” He, however, wrongly viewed the method of use, and supposed that the leaves were merely chewed for their flavor and that the juice was not swallowed.  

Referring to the general employment of Coca for a variety of purposes, he says: “Coca preserves the body from many infirmities, and our doctors use it pounded for applications to sores and broken bones, to remove cold from the body or to prevent it from entering, as well as to cure sores that are full of maggots. It is so beneficial and has such singular virtue in the cure of outward sores, it will surely have even more virtue and efficacy in the entrails of those who eat it !” Nor did this observant author fail to recognize another important use in which this famous plant was practically serviceable. A tax of one-tenth of the Coca crop was set apart for the clergy, of which he says: “The greater part of the revenue of the bishops and canons of the cathedrals of Cuzco is derived from the tithes of the Coca leaves.”  

There is a marked contrast between the open, conscientious manner of Valera’s writings with that of other Spanish authors, who displayed an abhorrence for all the customs of the Indians. Thus Cieza, reflecting this superstitious prejudice, tells us that the old men of every tribe actually conversed with the arch-enemy of mankind. Referring to the Incan rite of burying bags of Coca with their dead, as a symbol of support for the departed in a journey to the eternal home, he mockingly says, “as if hell was so very far off.” The good padre, in his appeal for the continuance of Coca, has shown a liberality for such a period of bigotry which might be well for the consideration of others in even this more enlightened age. Thus he writes:

“They have said and written many things against the little plant, with no other reason than that the Gentiles in ancient times, and now some wizards and diviners, offer Cuca to the idols, on which ground these people say that its use ought to be entirely prohibited. Certainly this would be good counsel if the Indians offered up this and nothing else to the devil, but seeing that the ancient idolaters and modem wizards also sacrifice maize, vegetables and fruits, whether growing above or under ground, as well as their beverage, cold water, wool, clothes, sheep and many other things, and as they cannot all be prohibited, neither should the Cuca. They ought to be taught to abhor superstitions and to serve truly one God, using all these things after a Christian fashion. Surely, an impartial judgment, which is worthy of present acceptation.” 

Garcilasso has added to this account some further particulars made familiar to him through his intimate acquaintance with the cultivation and care of Coca. In his quaint verbiage, which has possibly suffered through translation, he says of the shrubs: “They are about the height of a man, and in planting them they put the seeds into nurseries, in the same way as in garden stuffs, but drilling a hole as for vines. They layer the plants as with a vine. They take the greatest care that no roots, not even the smallest, be doubled, for this is sufficient to make the plant dry up. When they gather the leaves they take each branch within the fingers of the hand, and pick the leaves until they come to the final sprout, which they do not touch, lest it should cause the branch to wither. The leaf, both on the upper and under side, in shape and greenness, is neither more nor less than that of the arbutus, except that three or four leaves of the Cuca, being very delicate, would make one of arbutus in thickness. I rejoice to be able to find things in Spain which are appropriate for comparison with those of that country – that both here and there people may  know one by another. After the leaves are gathered they put them in the sun to dry. For they lose their green color, which is much prized, and break up into powder, being so very delicate, if they are exposed to damp, in the cestas or baskets in which they are carried from one place to another. The baskets are made of split canes, of which there are many of all sizes in these provinces of the Antis. They cover the outside of the baskets with the leaves of the large cane, which are more than a tercia wide and about half a vara ( 1 vara = 33 inches) long, in order to preserve the Cuca from wet, for the leaves are much injured by damp. The basket is then enveloped by an outer net made of a certain fibre.” Referring to the extreme care essential for its preservation,  this Incan author concludes: “In considering the number of things that are required for the production of Cuca, it would be more profitable to return thanks to God for providing all things in the places where they are necessary than to write concerning them, for the account must seem incredible.”

Father Thomas Ortiz, who accompanied Alonzo Niño and  Luis Guerra in their expedition in 1499, described the use of  Coca by the natives along the coast of Venezuela under the term “hayo”.  

Antonio de Herrera, who was royal historian under Philip II, drew his facts from correspondence with the conquistadors, and his history, which is divided into eight decades, covers the period of the Spanish discoveries. In speaking of the customs of the northern provinces, he refers to “the herb which on the coast of the sea is called hayo”. The word hayo has been shown to belong to the vocabulary of the Chibchas and is generally applied to Coca by several tribes bordering upon the northern coast of South America.

Among some of the earlier Spanish writings of this section Coca is alluded to as “hay,” and doubt has been expressed as to whether this is identical with hayo, presumably derived from agu, to chew; but the absence of the final vowel, according to a writer who is familiar with this region, does not signify, while it is absolutely certain that all the species of Erythroxylon which are today used in Venezuela and along the  Caribbean Sea are termed hayo. Even the Erythroxylon cumanense, HBK, is called by this name and not that of ceveso as mentioned in the description published by Kunth.  

The account which Ortiz gives of the plant used by the Indians of Chiribiche does not exactly correspond with the Coca shrub, though what he says of the leaves and their use among the Indians is correct. Gomara, in speaking of the customs of the Cumana, confirms the account given by Ortiz. At present Coca is not very extensively grown through Venezuela. The ancient cocals on the peninsula of Guajira are becoming extinct on account of excessive drought, while the cultivation of tobacco has proved a more profitable industry and is better adapted to the climate.

We know that prior to the Conquest the province of the  Incas extended north to Quito, having been conquered by Huayna Ccapac some years before for his father, Tupac Inca Yupanqui, by which conquest the powerful State of Quito, which rivaled Peru in wealth and civilization, was united to the Incan Empire. When Huayna Ccapac succeeded his father, this newly acquired kingdom became his seat of government, and here with his favorite concubine, the mother of Atahualpa, he spent the last days of his life. Because of this removal of imperial influence far from the original home of the empire at Cuzco may be attributed one source of the final weakness of the Incas, for it may be recalled that at the time of Huayna Ccapac’s death the kingdom, which now extended over such immense territory, was for the first time divided under two rulers, one-half being given to his son, Huasca, and the other half to his son Atahualpa. It therefore seems quite probable that as the interests of the government extended northward the customs of the  people of the lower Andes should follow, and be propagated among a people where similar conditions called for whatever  beneficial influence might be derived from the use of Coca.  From Quito travel northward, aided by the canoe navigation of the Cauca and Magdalena rivers, would rapidly carry the  customs of the people of the south to the northern coast,  where, as shown by early historical facts, commerce was so extensive as to favor the adoption of the habits of the interior.  

There are still many tribes along the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta who have preserved their ancient customs and habits from prehistoric times, for it is known that the Spanish were never able to completely attain possession of this region. It has been suggested that these Indians had never been subject to a king as were the Incas, while their country was so extremely fertile that when pursued by the Spanish they merely destroyed their homes and took up habitations elsewhere, depending upon a bountiful tropical vegetation for their support. In marked contrast to the Indians of New Grenada, the Peruvians were accustomed to subjection under their Lord Inca, and at the time of the Conquest they were obliged to  submit themselves to their new masters, for if they abandoned their homes and the lands which they had cultivated to flee to the barren mountains or snowy plains they must also give up their means for subsistence. Piedrahita speaks of the use of Coca along the northern coast, and says that the leaves were  chewed by the Indians without lime, an addition which he suggests was earned from the Incan domains to the northern  Indians by the Spaniards after the Conquest.

The expedition of the French mathematician La Condamine, which went to Quito in 1735 to measure an arc of the meridian in the neighborhood of the equator, and thus verify the shape of the earth, was made memorable through a host of important scientific discoveries, primary among which was the introduction  of many new plants into Europe; among these was caoutchouc or India rubber.  Accompanying this expedition was Antonio d’Ulloa,  a Spanish naval officer; Godin, Bouguer and the botanist, Joseph de Jussieu, whose name is associated with the classification of Coca. Condamine was the first man of science who examined and described the quinquina tree of Loxa, of which Linnӕus in 1742 established the genus Cinchona.

Jussieu travelled on foot as far as the forests of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, collecting botanical specimens from the richness of the Peruvian flora. Many of his exploratory trips were hazardous in the extreme, and in 1749, while crossing the Andes to reach the Coca region of the Yungas of Coroico, he  nearly lost his life. Added to the dangers of the route the glistening brilliancy of the sun reflected from the snow seemed  to threaten him with blindness. In the Arctic region travelers are subject to a similar discomfort, and commonly wear a visor-like protector to shield their eyes. The sun shade illustrated is carved from wood with slots cut beneath the peak to permit vision.

Jussieu sent specimens of the Coca shrub to Paris, and these, examined and described by the explorer’s brother Antoine, were afterward preserved in the herbarium of the Museum of Natural History there, and have served as classic examples of many subsequent studies of the plant. But the glory of meritorious labor pursued through great trial and privation was not to be enjoyed by this explorer. Just as many another collector before and since his time has suffered the loss of treasures when work was about completed, so this intrepid botanist lost the choice gatherings of fifteen years through robbery, under the belief that his boxes contained a more merchantable wealth than plants. In 1771, after an absence of thirty-four years, Jussieu was taken home, bereft of reason, as a result not alone of hardships, but from that unfulfilled desire which makes the soul sick, and he died in France, leaving many manuscripts, which are still unpublished.

The Jussieus were a family of botanists for several generations; contemporary with them were several noted naturalists who followed their classification. Among these, Augustin  Pyrame Candolle, of the College of France, and Antonio Jose  Cavanilles, a Spanish ecclesiastic, each described Coca from the examples which had been sent by Joseph.

Many interesting accounts have been written of the expedition of La Condamine, and as a result of these early researches several of the powers have been prompted to send botanical expeditions to the South American forests. Among these there is given in the writings of Captain Don Antonio d’Ulloa a brief account of the country of Popayan, in the jurisdiction of Timana. While following Father Valera’s  description of Coca, he adds: “It grows on a weak stem, which for support twists itself around another stronger vegetable  like a vine. The use the Indians make of it is for chewing, mixing it with chalk or whitish earth called mambi. They put into their mouths a few Coca leaves and a suitable portion of mambi, and chewing these together, at first spit out the saliva which that mastication causes, but afterwards swallow it, and thus move it from one side of the mouth to the other till its substance be quite derived, then it is thrown away, but immediately replaced by fresh leaves.”

He confounds Coca with betel, saying: ”It is exactly the same as the betel of the East Indies. The plant, the leaf, the manner of using it, its qualities, are all the same, and the Eastern nations are no less fond of this betel than the Indians of Peru and Popayan are of their Coca; but in other parts of  the province of Quito, as it is not produced, so neither is it used.” But he was conscious of the physiological effects of Coca from its employment, and wrote: “This herb is so nutritious and invigorating that the Indians labor whole days  without anything else, and on the want of it they find a decay in their strength. They also add that it preserves the teeth sound and fortifies the stomach.”  

The early writings upon Coca were not, however, all of foreign authorship. Peru numbered among her men of letters a noted physician and statesman who drew his facts from a keen observation of the people of whom he wrote. I refer to  Dr. Don Hipolito Unanue, of Tacna, whose name is intimately linked with the political and educational history of Peru. He published the Mercurio Peruano, the first number of which appeared in January, 1791, a paper which gave an impetus to the writings of his countrymen, in which there are many interesting details of Peruvian customs.

From his political interests in a land where insurrection was a common occurrence, Dr. Unanue could appreciate the advantage possible from the use of Coca in the army. He tells of an incident of the siege of La Paz, in 1771, when the inhabitants, after a blockade of several months, during a severe winter, ran short of provisions and were compelled to depend wholly upon Coca, of which happily there was a stock in the city. This apparently scanty sustenance was sufficient to banish hunger and to support fatigue, while enabling the soldiers to bear the intense cold. During the same war a body of patriot infantry, obliged to travel one of the coldest plateaus of Bolivia, found itself deprived of provisions while advancing in forced marches to regain the division. On their arrival only those soldiers were in condition to fight who had from childhood been accustomed to always carry with them a pouch of Coca.