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


How Coca Leaf Could Balance & Heal Our Gut Microbiome

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

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

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

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

Fast forward to today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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).”


Were All These People Insane, Or Are We Missing Something Important?

Angelo Mariani was without doubt the most successful, and probably the most ethical of all of the 19th Century manufacturers of Coca Leaf-based tonics. Unlike most other manufacturers, of which there were hundreds in Europe and the US, he practiced strict quality control, even to the point of developing proprietary Coca plantations in Peru and Bolivia where his proprietary Coca Leaf was grown, harvested, processed and shipped to Europe under carefully controlled conditions.

In contrast most other tonic manufacturers used cheap, dried-out Coca Leaf scrap that was the reject of Coca harvests in Peru and Bolivia – literally the scrapings from the Coca Leaf processing floors in those countries. And reminiscent of the Cocaine trade today these unscrupulous manufacturers didn’t hesitate to adulterate their products with whatever cheap crap they thought they could get away with to bulk out their products.

In addition, the Bordeaux wine that he used as the base and Coca solvent for his tonic was sourced from several prominent French chateau producers, whereas other manufacturers who tried to copy Mariani’s success used the cheapest red swill they could obtain. Again, exactly the kind of behavior we see in 99% of today’s Cocaine (and Heroin) markets.

As a result Mariani’s tonic delivered the same quality medication to patients from one bottle to the next, and it was also pleasant-tasting, and because of these qualities it remained the premium Coca Leaf tonic on the market for decades both in Europe and North America.

Mariani’s attention to detail, and his energetic marketing, primarily through the publication of testimonials from prominent users of his products worldwide, were responsible for his life-long success and should be studied carefully by entrepreneurs in the Medical Marijuana space today.

In this post you’ll get a sense of how doctors and patients of the late 19th Century viewed Vin Mariani tonic. As you read through these excerpts from their correspondence to Mariani you have to ask yourself – were all these people simply idiots, or were they competent physicians and completely sane patients? It follows that if they were neither insane nor idiots, then perhaps the insane idiots are those who stand in the way of sick people having access to pure, natural Coca Leaf remedies today.

These remedies are certainly available (see this post on medicinal tonics being produced in Bolivia today), and given the outstanding economic success of Medical Marijuana in those US states where it is finally legal, you have to ask yourself “What are we waiting for? Why aren’t we growing Coca and producing Coca Leaf medicines in the US today?”

Here are a few of the testimonials from the files of Angelo Mariani:

Meulan, March 17, 1874.
I wish to inform you that I have nothing but good results to report in all the cases in which I have employed the Vin Mariani in my practice. Yours, very respectfully,

Paris, May 12, 1874.
One of my patients, Lady Superior of a convent in the environs of Paris, affected with a profound anemia, which has resisted all treatment, and which, by the long use of iron and quinine, had become complicated with constipation and gastric disturbance, was relieved of the latter symptoms after twenty days’ treatment with Vin Mariani, and under the influence of this same medicine her anemia gradually lessened, and in the course of three months disappeared.

10 Rue Castiglione, Paris.
Obliged by professional duties to be continually near sick people, who often do not leave me time to take my meals, I desired to experiment with Coca as an analeptic. My trials have been with Vin Mariani. and here is what I have found :

A Bordeaux-glass full of this wine has always sufficed to make me forget hunger and to sustain my strength. I felt a slight warmth and general toning up of the body; the digestion of the meal which followed was always more easy than when I had not taken the Mariani Wine, and, although I had not a sensation of voracious hunger as I had without it, I ate very well, the stomach appearing more robust and more active.

La Porta, February 15, 1877.
Having had such splendid results in my practice with the Vin Mariani since a number of years, I counsel you to have your vrine tried in London and New York, for I am persuaded that in all the great centres, where tlio incessant occupation and the abnormal kind of life led there fatally engender anemia, Vin Mariani is able to render the greatest services.
Member of The Academie de Médicine, formerly Chief Physician of Napoleon III. , Emperor of the French, Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor.

Paris, December, 15 1876.
Since some time I prescribe to my patients Vin Mariani, and, in the cases of gastric trouble and anemia, I have had nothing but praise for the results obtained.

M. Mariani, Paris : London.
Since using your wine my digestion is splendid and my strength is returning. Respectfully,

Paris, January 25, 1876.
M. Mariani, Paris :
“Ne pigeat ex plebeis sciseltari si quid ad curationem utile,” said Hippocrates (in prœceptis), that is to say, let us not disdain popular remedies. It was with eagerness that I welcomed in my practice the Vin Mariani, based upon Peruvian Coca, a plant so popularly used in its native place. I have proved the efficacy of your preparation, which is at the same time useful and agreeable, in cases of nervous over-excitation with sleeplessness, of uni-lateral headaches, in throat diseases accompanied with pain, in spasms of the stomach with intense thirst, and sometimes in bilious vomiting. By re-establishing the digestive functions, Vin Mariani restores the general strength of the organism, and becomes a tonic without having the inconvenience of other medicaments, called tonics, which produce constipation. As the first of all therapeutical rules is, for me, the one well known since Hippocrates, which has been newly brought forward in our days by Hahnemann, under the formula — Similia similibus curantur, I think that the efficacy of Coca, in the affections I have just enumerated, is due to the application of the homœopathic law; and the well-known fact, that the natives deceive their hunger and; calm the cravings of their stomach by chewing and swallowing a substance which habitually increases the appetite, is a confirmation of my idea.

New York, August 16, 1884.
I have prescribed the Mariani Wine extensively during the last year, and with very favorable results. Its tonic and stimulant properties are very marked, particularly as manifested in its action on the nervous and muscular systems. It is well borne by even delicate stomachs. In my experience the weaker and more delicate the subject, the more pronounced its action and the more permanent its effects. While not a universal panacea for all the ills of life, it is a very valuable therapeutic agent, and certainly possesses most of the properties claimed for it.
161 E. 31st Street, New York.

New York, February 5, 1884.
Dear Sir : — I have examined morphologically your Mariani Wine, and also have tested it on patients, and I can cordially recommend it as being up to its standard, and of utility in cases where wine and Coca are indicated. Yours very truly,

Fayetteville, N. C, February 21, 1884.
Messrs. Mariani & Co., New York,
Dear Sirs : — I find Vin Mariani a most excellent – in fact, an indispensable – remedy in nervous debility. A patient of mine, a constant sufferer in this way, experiences immediate and absolute relief by the use of Mariani’s Wine, while nothing else affords him the least comfort. Your preparation of the diug cannot be too highly recommended.
Yours truly, H. W. LILLY, M.D.

London, November 9, 1882.
M. Mariani :
At the special recommendation of Dr. Lennox Browne, of London, I have tested carefully the Vin Mariani, and I recognize that its splendid effect upon the voice is extremely satisfactory, and almost instantaneous. For over two years I have tried it, ordering it to my pupils, both ladies and gentlemen, whom I had under my care for the development of the voice, and I have invariably remarked that, whenever they had any difficulty in singing or elocution, the Vin Mariani enabled them to continue the lesson, •which, without it, would have been utterly impossible. I have thus every reason to be glad that my attention was called to this remarkable preparation, and am convinced that all artists and orators will welcome it and be happy to adopt it.

Brevooet House,
Fifth Avenue (near Washington Square),
New York, December 5, 188i
Messrs. Mariani & Co.,
19 E. 16th Street, New York,
Gentlemen : — Madame Valleria has desired me to state that she was greatly benefited by the using of your wine. Dr. Morell Mackenzie, of Harley Street, London, W., some years ago (three or four) recommended Madame Valleria in a similar instance to use your wine, and then, as now, she obtained instant and complete benefit from so doing, and, with compliments, I remain
Your obedient servant, R. H. PERCY HUTCHINSON.

Paris, December 2, 1880.
My Dear Sir: – Well ! yes; know it, and let me write it to you, though I have frequently told it you. Your Vin Mariani is indeed excellent, and equalled by nothing. I drink it, I absorb it, and so also does my family, and we are all deriving so much good from it that I shall never be without it. On my voice it acts like a charm. My friends and brother artists, to whom I have recommended it, drink it regularly and likewise speak in highest terms of the Vin Mariani, and I can only say I advise all artists to give it an experiment, and guarantee they will adopt its use and thank you for it, as I do with all my heart .
Of the Opera.

Dear M. Mariani : Paris, November 12, 1881.

“Your wine indeed has again saved me! Upon my arrival at the opera and just before the commencement, when I was to sing, I found I had got a severe attack of aphonia, which has disappeared as if by enchantment after I had taken slowly a glassful of your wonderful Vin Mariani. It is to be hoped that all singers will become aware of and utilize the excellent properties of your preparation.

I have tried everything, and never have found anything like it. If the government understood all its duties, it would provide a certain quantity daily for the use of our corps of lyric artists— at all events for all the pupils pf the Conservatory of Music.
Gratefully, I am yours, VICTOR CAPOUL,
Of the Opera,

Fifth Avenue Hotel
Deae Doctor : August 24, 1884
We wish to pay a tribute to the excellence of the Mariani Wine. We invariably use it during our professional labors, and find it very efficient as a tonic which strengthens the vocal organs. We never travel without it, and thank you very much for recommending us to use it. Yours, etc.,

No. 21 Fifth Avenue,
New York, December 10, 1883.
Dear Sir: – I have had occasion to speak with many of my brother-artists of the Vin Mariani. Yesterday 1 was suffering with a lowering of the voice and determined to take this wine. Well, I can assure you that it gave me im- mediate relief, and that I shall always make use of this Vin Mariani on all occasions that I have any trouble with my voice. If 1 had a singing school, I should give to my pupils, as a specific for strengthening the vocal cords, this Mariani Wine. Accept my most sincere congratulations, and believe me,
Yours faithfully, GIUSEPPE DEL PUENTE.

220 W. 38th Steeet
March 20th, 1884.
My Dear Sir: – I desire to testify to the excellent effects of the Vin Mariani. Having been for months troubled with nervous prostration, I was delighted to find the wine a most strengthening tonic. It was prescribed for me by my physician. Recommending it heartily to all who all called upon to endure the fatigues of public life, I am, dear sir,
Very sincerely yours, HENRIETTA BEEBE.

New York, July 16, 1884.
Deae Sir :— I have often wished to express to you the wonderful results produced upon my voice by the use of the Vin Mariani, prescribed by my physician eighteen months ago. During my sojourn South I had occasion to use it many times, with marvellous results; when my voice was exhausted from excessive use and so hoarse that not one word out of ten was understood, I would take a sherry glass full of the Vin Mariani and captivate my audience by my full and brilliant voice, really astonishing myself thereby. It certainly is invaluable to vocalists and elocutionists— soothing irritation of the throat, and giving strength and brilliancy to the voice. Feeling deeply grateful, I am,
Most respectfully yours, MARG. BOULIGNY.

Messrs. Maeiani & Co., New York, December 16, 1883.
Gentlemen : — I have used your wine during several years, and have found it excellent. I am well satisfied with it, and cheerfully authorize you to use my name.
Very respectfully, E. FURSCH MADI.

Mariani & Co., Mystic Bridge, Ct., August 12, 1884.
Deae Sirs :— I have taken your Wine of Coca since July 24th, as directed by my physician. I am pleased to write you that I have been greatly benefited by it. My lungs are better, and my general health is in every way improving. I can safely recommend it to my friends as the best tonic I have ever taken. My home physician is so much pleased with the effect of the wine upon me that he has already sent to you for a dozen bottles.
Respectfully yours, FANNIE S. WILLIAMS.

St. James’ Hotel
Mariani & Co., N. Y. City, February 25, 1884.
19 East 16th Street, N. Y. City,
Gentlemen: – For several years I have been using various preparations of Coca, and within the last few months, having had my attention called to your Vin Tonique Mariani, have been using it. I think it by far superior to any that I have yet seen, and I have derived great benefit from its use. Judging it from my own experience, I can and do most heartily recommend it.
Yours, etc., EMORY A. STORRS,

Continental Hotel
Mariani & Co., N. Y., August 25, 1884.
Gentlemen: — It affords me great satisfaction to give you the result of my personal experience in the use of Vin Mariani. For the past three years I have, under the direction of my physician, relied upon it in serious emergencies of illness and overwork. It sustains vitality in conditions of extreme exhaustion, and restores strength more quickly than any other tonic I have used, never causing the least unpleasant reaction.

I have tested it during long journeys, under the pressure of continued physical and mental strain, and have found it unfailing in its good effects. Frequently, when in travelling I have been unable to obtain my regular food, a small quantity of Vin Mariani has afforded me satisfactory nourishment.

I am so convinced of its beneficial nature, that I have induced many of my friends to use it, and their experience coincides with mine.
Respectfully yours, JULIET CORSON.

(The following is from the eminent Professor J. M. Carnochan, M.D., of New York, Professor of Surgery, former Surgeon-in-Chief to the State Emigrants’ Hospital, Health Officer of the Port of New York, and one of the Commissioners of the Health Department of the City of New York, etc.)

M. Mariani, Paris : New Yoek, August 29, 1884.
I have for the last eight or ten years often recommended the Vin Mariani to patients laboring under abnormal conditions of the system, re- quiring a mild tonic and stimulating influence, with marked and excellent results. For convalescents, also, I consider it a very useful remedial agent.

Mr.. A. Mariani, Paris, October 19, 1880.
Dear Sir : — As a rule I object to having my name used as recommending any special preparation of a drug, for this very easily and frequently leads to abuse; but I am willing to make an exception in your case, and to express at your desire, in writing, my opinion of your Wine of Coca – an opinion with which you are personally well acquainted. Since my attention has been called to the good effects of your wine by Drs. Morell Mackenzie and Lennox Browne, of London, I have tried it myself, and have observed its use by Dr. Fauvel, in his clinique and in his private practice. There can be no doubt that, properly used, it is an excellent general tonic; that it has a special beneficial action upon the digestive and respiratory organs, and that, by its stimulation of the nervo-muscular system, it enables persons to undergo physical exertions to which, without it, they would at the time not be equal, and seemingly – certainly so far as I have been able to discover – without consequent reaction of over-fatigue. The latter effect I have particularly observed, as to vocal efforts, in the cases of speakers and singers.

19 Harley Street, Cavendish Square, W.
London, July 6th, 1885
Gentlemen: – I have much pleasure in stating that I have used the Vin Mariani for many years, and consider it a valuable stimulant, particularly serviceable in the case of vocalists.
Yours faithfully,
Consulting Physician to the Hospital for Diseases of the Throat; late Physician to the London Hospital.

Wiener K. K. Allgem. Krankenhaus
Vienna, July 20th, 1885. f
Messrs. Mariani & Co.
Dear Sirs : — I have used your Vin Mariani for the past three years, and have much pleasure in testifying to its many excellent qualities, combining as it does the well known constitutional effects of Cocaine with that of a mild stimulant exhibited in an acceptable form. Among the conditions in which I have found it of valuable service, I may mention in the debility occurring after prolonged illness – in Oedema of the Larynx accompanying albuminuria, in the slow convalescence after diphtheria, and especially in Graves’ disease, in which latter it not only acts as a cardiac sedative, but also diminishes the accompanying exophthalmos and laryngeal congestion.
I have the honor to be, Yours respectfully,

Montreal, Canada.
Professor in Laryngology, McGill University, and Laryngologist and Rhinologist to Montreal General Hospital.
Saratoga Springs, July 20, 1885.
Gentlemen : — I have used the Vin Mariani in my practice quite largely for the last four years with most excellent results, and I consider it greatly superior to any other preparation in the market.
Very truly yours, CLINTON WAGNER, M.D.,

341 5th Avenue, New York.
New York, August 28th, 1883.
Gentlemen : — I have been acquainted with Mariani Wine for a considerable time, and have had occasion to recommend it frequently. I deem it a most excellent adjuvant in the class of cases to which it is recommended, and I hope in the future to still further demonstrate its usefulness.
Very respectfully,
149 W. 23rd Street.

Utica, New York, July 17th, 1885.
My Dear Sirs : — I have used the Vin Mariani in many cases, and have had considerable experience with it. In my opinion it is the best preparation of Coca attainable, and can be relied upon in many conditions of debility and feeble heart action when this valuable drug is called for.
Very sincerely yours,

Boston, December 15, 1884.
Messrs. Mariani & Co.: – Enclosed please find amount for two cases Vin Mariani, which please send by Adams’ Express. I use it in my own family. I have been more than pleased with its action, and consider it far ahead of any other preparation of coca, be they wines, fluid extracts, or elixirs. I have tried in my practice no less than six different preparations.
Yours very truly,

Hudson, New York.
Gentlemen : — Your Vin Mariani is giving excellent results. I am well pleased with its effects.
Yours truly,
C. P. COOK, M.D., Health Officer.

New York, June 24th, 1885.
Dear Sirs: — Permit me to say that I am, and have been for years past, using your preparations of Coca, and that I fully endorse all the views that I formerly expressed about them. They are the only preparations of Coca from which I can obtain any medicinal results, and necessarily I use them exclusively, and consider your wine superior to any other makes. Many thanks are due you for your excellent preparations, and I trust others will obtain as good results from them.
Very respectfully yours,

153 East 77th Street.
Vicksburg, Miss.
Gentlemen : — The “Thé Mariani” is certainly a surprising invigorator. 1 am using it with great satisfaction in debilitated subjects. Were the several fluid extracts and preparations of Coca now on the market of better grade, Coca would hold the place it deserves. Yours is the only preparation I use with confidence. Very respectfully,
H. P. BRISBANE, M.D., Health Ofiicer.

Boston, Mass., October 3rd, 1885.
Dear Sirs: – My first acquaintance with the use of Vin Mariani was made in Paris, France, in the summer of 1880, when my attention was called to it by Dr. J, Marion Sims, who recommended it as a superior tonic for nervous prostration. I have continued to use it and prescribe it ever since with entire satisfaction. I prescribe your Elixir Mariani as a brain food, and as a stimulant to the nervo-muscular system it gives immediate and lasting effect. I also have used your “Thé Mariani” in sweetened milk, and think it excel- lent. I am so convinced of the beneficial effect of these preparations that I hardly know how I could practice without them in such cases.
I am, respectfully yours,

Brooklyn, New York, June 23rd, 1885.
Gentlemen: – As regards your preparations of Coca, it gives me pleasure to say that at the present time I can obtain none which is so satisfactory as your Vin Mariani and your Thé. I have always found same uniformly excellent and reliable. My opinion of the value of Coca in general is so well known that I need not express it.
Respectfully yours,
Health Department, Sanitary Bureau,

New York, October 3rd, 1885.
Mariani & Co.
Gentlemen: – I have frequently prescribed your Vin Mariani, and am familiar with its merits. I have, however, never seen any of your other preparations of Coca, and would be indebted to you for samples you so kindly offered. If they are up to the standard of your wine, you deserve to reap great rewards for devising and introducing them.
Very truly yours,

New York, September 14th, 1883.
Dear Sirs: – I have used your Vin Mariani with decided benefits. Of the many preparations of Coca I find the Mariani wine the best, and I have tried many of the others. It produces an immediate tonic effect, and the improvement is lasting. I have ordered it for many of my patients, and it has not disappointed me.
Very truly yours,

Augusta, Ga., January 13th, 1885.
Gentlemen: — I have been prescribing your Vin Mariaiii for some time, and with entire satisfaction. I am just recovering from an attack of diphtheria, which 1 contracted from a patient, and on account of my extreme debility I took your wine and have finished the fourth bottle, and can say I am a new creature since I commenced it, and certainly shall continue taking it for some time. Without doubt it is the greatest tonic ever made, and I am prescribing it every day.
Very truly yours.

Yonkers, New York, May 6, 1884.
Dear Sirs : — When in Paris I heard of the Vin Mariani, and the good results from using the same, particularly in the treatment of certain obscure nervous diseases. Since my return home I have advised in quite a number of these nervous cases the taking of the Vin Mariani, and with most favorable results. Am pleased to say that the Vin Mariani continues its reputation, and is growing in favor.
Yours respectfully,

Amherst, N. H., November 12th, 1884.
Gentlemen: – I had occasion many times to use the Vin Mariani in my practice, and found it the most elegant and efficacious preparation of Coca. It entirely covers and conceals the rather disagreeable taste of the drug, and in my estimation the wine itself is a most happy adjunct to the Coca, in that the alcohol therein contained quickens the absorption of it into the circulation, and, with the essential ether of the wine, adds to the strength-giving properties of the Coca. I consider that the Vin Mariani has saved my wife from sickness, which would have resulted from the breaking down of her nervous system. I have every reason to congratulate myself on the marked effect which the Vin Mariani has upon her. I am glad to recommend it as a superior preparation.
Yours, etc.,

From Columbus Medical Journal:
“Cocaine in Headache.”
We received several months ago a supply of the justly celebrated Vin Mariani, with the request that we use it personally for the relief of headache – which is the bane of our life. This wine has for its active ingredient a concentrated extract of the leaves of Erythroxylon Coca – the plant from which the new anӕsthetic is obtained. Each wine-glassful contains the equivalent of about 30 grains of the leaves. Although we have used the Vin only when we felt the attack coming on, it has uniformly aborted the attack promptly and thoroughly. We have used it with others, and with essentially the same success. We have also prescribed it as a tonic in dyspepsia and nervous prostration, and with excellent results.”— J. F. Baldwin, M.D., Editor.


Wild Coca Species Are Broadly Distributed – Not Just In The Andes!

Cocaine Distribution In Wild Erythroxylum Species

This research paper is valuable for an understanding of the Coca plant in several important ways. First, it makes very clear that the alkaloid Cocaine along with other beneficial alkaloids present in varying concentrations in dozens of species of genus Erythrolylum, not just in the Coca plant of the Andes most closely associated with Cocaine production. These Cocaine and alkaloid-rich wild species are broadly distributed – principally but not exclusively in South America. You’ll find an entire chapter in the Coca Cultivators Handbook dedicated to this topic.

An interesting aside – not mentioned by the authors of this study – is that in the 1800s there were dedicated efforts to cultivate Coca plants in many parts of the world including Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Mexico, Java, Algeria, and the Western US, so it is highly likely that if one looked carefully one would find wild, escaped descendants of the original plantings in at least some of those places today.

Another thing that makes this research interesting is that the experiments were conducted on leaves of wild Erythroxylum species used botanical samples collected many years ago and kept since in collections in various research institutions. In other words, the samples tested were 30-50 years old!

The fact that the researchers found Cocaine in dozens of species by examining specimens that old begs the question – what is the Cocaine and beneficial alkaloid concentration in fresh specimens of these wild species? Since it is well-known among indigenous Andean people that fresh Coca leaves are superior to even year-old leaves, you have to think that fresh leaves from some of the wild species identified in this study would make a very nice Coca Leaf tea.

But the real “Wow!” factor to me in this research is that of the dozens of wild species of the genus Erythroxylum scattered around the world at least some have most or possibly all of the alkaloid and other plant constituents that provide the well-documented health benefits of the Erythroxylon Coca of the Andes. While the authors of this study found that almost all of the wild species that contained Cocaine had very small amounts, you have to wonder what a little TLC (tender loving cultivation) would do to the alkaloid content of at least some of these wild species? Here’s an interesting answer to that question – a study of the alkaloid content of Peruvian and Bolivian Coca Leaf teas.

Who knows – this news might just inspire a whole new generation of PharmaBotanists to go forth and seek out these apparently 100% legal plants and in the process drive the DEA stark raving bonkers – not that they aren’t already.

Oops! It’s already happening. It seems that there are some very smart folks at work in the Andes coming up with new varieties of plants that don’t look anything like Coca but that produce Cocaine like a champ. Of course this is driving the Narcs crazy, but what did they expect? The small furry creatures will always stay one step ahead of the dinosaurs, which is why they will ultimately survive while the monsters crawl into their caves and go extinct.

Which brings me to another very valuable aspect of this research. The scientists not only tested decades-old leaves of wild species, they also tested contemporary Coca Leaf Tea products from Bolivia and Peru. Their findings should encourage anyone who is interested in using these readily available (in Bolivia and Peru) commercial products for dealing with health issues because the researchers conclude that some of the products sold in Bolivia and Peru are “pure Coca leaf” and others, even the “de-cocainized” products that are sold in the US (check Amazon), not only are not completely “de-cocainized” but they appear to still have a leaf chemistry profile that indicates they should be at least minimally effective for some therapeutic uses.

The Teas available in the US are definitely not anywhere as effective as pure, natural whole Coca leaf – but they are not altogether useless either. And (some of) the commercial Coca Leaf teas produced and sold in both Bolivia and Peru are pure, natural Coca Leaf – the way the great spirit of Mama Coca made them.

Final comment – although I have included information from the original article on the testing procedures the scientists used in working on all of the Wild Coca species, I have left out their extensive data tables for the sake of both brevity and simplicity. However I have included their valuable list of references for readers who might like to follow up.

Cocaine Distribution In Wild Erythroxylum Species

Stefan Bieri, et al

Cocaine distribution was studied in leaves of wild Erythroxylum species originating from Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Mexico, USA, Venezuela and Mauritius. Among 51 species, 28 had never been phytochemically investigated before. Cocaine was efficiently and rapidly extracted with methanol, using focused microwaves at atmospheric pressure, and analysed without any further purification by capillary gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. Cocaine was reported for the first time in 14 species. Erythroxylum laetevirens was the wild species with the highest cocaine content. Its qualitative chromatographic profile also revealed other characteristic tropane alkaloids. Finally, its cocaine content was compared to those of two cultivated coca plants as well as with a coca tea bag sample.

© 2005 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Erythroxylaceae; Erythroxylum; Erythroxylum laetevirens; Cocaine; Tropane alkaloids; Gas chromatography; Mass spectrometry; Focused microwave assisted extraction


The last 30 years have seen an increasing interest in cocaine analysis resulting from its expanding illicit use in Western Europe and North America. Regardless of the importance of cultivated coca plants from an economical point of view, these species always played a key role for South American natives (Grinspoon and Bakalar, 1981; Naranjo, 1981; Schultes, 1981; Plowman, 1984a).

Coca chewing in South America has persisted from ancient times, but is still poorly understood from many points of view. This traditional habit is largely considered noxious by many regulatory authorities.

The family Erythroxylaceae is composed of four genera: Aneulophus, Erythroxylum, Nectaropetalum and Pinacopodium (Hegnauer, 1981). The genus Erythroxylum, by far the most well know genus of the family comprises roughly 230 species of tropical trees and shrubs, which are widely distributed in South America, Africa and Madagascar (Plowman and Hensold, 2004).

In 1907, Schulz divided this genus into 19 sections, providing a useful scheme for comparative phytochemical considerations. Erythroxylum and more particularly Erythroxylum coca and Erythroxylum novogranatense, as well as their varieties, is the only natural source of cocaine (Plowman, 1984b).

Even if some attention has been focused on non-cultivated Erythroxylum species for the possible presence of cocaine, systematic investigation of the genus is still incomplete and several species used in traditional medicine remain unknown (Evans, 1981).

Aynilian et al. (1974) reported the concentration of cocaine in herbarium specimens of seven Erythroxylum species. Holmstedt et al. (1977) analysed 62 samples of 13 tropical South American species by capillary gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Cocaine was found only in the leaves of two species, Erythroxylum coca and Erythroxylum novogranatense, but no measurable amount of cocaine was detected in any of the other 11 species. Subsequently, Plowman and Rivier (1983), using more sensitive assays, detected trace amounts of cocaine in 13 neotropical wild Erythroxylum species representing five sections of the genus. Besides, they found that two species from Venezuela, namely Erythroxylum recurrens and Erythroxylum steyermarkii, contained cocaine amounts comparable to those found in cultivated species.

This study is part of a large investigation of the genus Erythroxylum for tropane and related alkaloids (Brachet et al., 1997, 2002; Christen et al., 1993, 1995; Brock et al., 2005).

We report here on the specific investigation of cocaine in 51 wild species. Due to the presence of an appreciable amount of cocaine, Erythroxylum laetevirens was qualitatively investigated for the presence of other tropane alkaloids and its chromatographic profile was compared to those of two cultivated species, together with
a coca tea bag sample.

2. Materials and methods

2.1. Plant material and chemicals

Most species were collected in South America between 1979 and 1984 by the late T. Plowman and kindly provided by Dr. Laurent Rivier (Lausanne, Switzerland). Two species originating from sites other than South America were also included in this study, namely Erythroxylum areolatum from the Bahamas (USA) and Erythroxylum macrocarpum from Mauritius. A voucher specimen of all plants is deposited at our Institute.

For each species, only the leaves were analysed. Dry plant material was ground to a fine homogenous powder by a ballmill (MM 200 RETSCH, Switzerland) and finally sieved to an average particle size of less than 125 m.

Cocaine hydrochloride (COC) and Methadone hydrochloride (MET) were obtained from Siegfried Handel (Zofingen, Switzerland) and H¨ansler (Herisau, Switzerland), respectively.

2.2. Extraction procedure

Extractions were performed using focused microwaves at atmospheric pressure at a frequency of 2450MHz using a Soxwave 3.6 apparatus (Prolabo, France) with a programmable heating power. Typically, 100 mg of powdered plant material was placed into a 20mL quartz extraction vessel and hydrated with 10L of water prior to the addition of 5mL methanol.

The extraction was carried out at 125W for 30 seconds. Each extract solution was filtered on a 0.45 mm PTFE filter (Brachet et al., 2002). Solutions obtained from wild species were evaporated to dryness and taken up in 1mL methanol containing 10 ppm internal standard (methadone), while solutions from cultivated species were diluted four times with methanol. All samples were analysed by GC-MS without any further purification.

2.3. Gas chromatography

GC-MS analyses were carried out using a Hewlett-Packard 5890 series II chromatograph coupled to a HP 5972 mass selective detector (Agilent Technologies, Palo Alto, CA, USA). The mass detector operated in the electron impact ionization mode at 70 eV. Injections were performed in the splitless mode at 250o C with a splitless period of 60 s and with purge and septum purge flow rates of 30 and 3 mL/min, respectively.

Injections of 1 L were carried out with a HP 6890 series fast automatic liquid sampler (Agilent Technologies). A laminar liner (Restek, Bellefonte, PA, USA) was used as well as a standard syringe with a 42mm long needle and a cone tip. Helium was used as carrier gas and operated in the constant flow mode (1 ml/min).

For qualitative analysis, a HP5-MS column, 30 mm×0.25 mm i.d.× 0.25 mm film thickness was used with an initial oven temperature of 70 ◦C (1 min hold) and a linear temperature program from 70 to 285o C at 5 o C/min and hold at the final temperature for 15 min. Spectra were recorded in the mass range 30–500 Th with 1.3 scan/s and the MS transfer line was set at 280 o C.

For quantitative cocaine analysis, the oven was initially set at 70 ◦C (1 min hold) and linearly increased to 285 o C (5 min hold) at 30 ◦C/min. GCMS (SIM mode) was performed using the selective ion 303 Th (molecular ion of cocaine), the qualifier ion 272 Th and the target ion 182 Th (base peak of cocaine). Methadone (MET) was used as internal standard with target ion 294 Th (molecular ion) and qualifier ion 72 Th (base peak of methadone). In order to enhance sensitivity, the potential of the electron multiplier was increased by a 400V increment for a period of time of 2 min which included elution of the internal standard and cocaine.

2.4. Quantification

Standard calibration curve was obtained with cocaine solutions at seven concentration levels between 0.1 and 100 ppm (0.1, 0.5, 1, 5, 25, 50 and 100 ppm) containing a fixed concentration (10 ppm) of methadone. Quantitative determination was based on the peak area ratio of the target ions of cocaine over methadone. A correlation coefficient of 0.9992 was obtained.

The relative standard deviations (R.S.D.) for six consecutive injections with a cocaine standard solution at 5 ppm was inferior to 5%, and inferior to 10% at 0.1 ppm, corresponding to the limit of quantification (LOQ). For any concentration level, the
three cocaine ions were detected at the corresponding elution time (between 9.55 and 9.57 min).

Cocaine was considered to be present in a species, but not quantified (NQ) when ions 182 and 303 Th were detected with a signal to noise ratio of at least 2. When the target ion 182 Th was not detected, the symbol ND was used, meaning that no cocaine
was present.

3. Results and discussion

Before any discussion of the results, it is important to emphasize that the time elapsed between plant harvesting and analysis is between 20 and 25 years. Since it is believed that a cocaine leaf content may vary with time, the quantitative results reported should be viewed from that perspective despite the fact that the preservation of cocaine in Erythroxylum coca leaves has been shown in 44 year-old herbarium samples (Aynilian et al., 1974).

A straightforward sample preparation method involving focused microwave-assisted extraction (FMAE) was used as already described by Brachet et al. (2002). This procedure was particularly well suited for mass limited samples, as it required no more than 100 mg of fine powdered plant material. Indeed, sample amounts of the various examined species at our disposal varied between a few hundred milligrams and a hundred and fifty grams. Furthermore, this method was extremely rapid (30 s), required low amount of organic solvent (5 mL) and thus allowed the extraction of numerous samples in a short period of time. In addition, it is environmentally friendly and does not necessitate additional sophisticated sample treatment before analysis.

After extraction, all of the investigated samples were qualitatively and quantitatively analysed by GC-MS in scan and SIM modes, respectively. The leaves of 51 Erythroxylum species belonging to seven different sections as described by Schulz (1907) were examined for their cocaine content. Among them, 28 species had not been
investigated previously. According to the age of the investigated plant material and due to the low cocaine content, concentration ranges rather than exact concentrations are reported.

Four domains, expressed in percentage of cocaine per gram dry mass, have been defined, namely: (++++) >0.005%; (+++) 0.001–0.005%; (++) 0.0005–0.001%; (+) 0.0001–0.0005%. The LOQ of the method turned out to be 0.0001% of cocaine per gram dry leaf. Retention time repeatability on the target ion (182 Th) was excellent (R.S.D. = 0.01%, n = 6) considering the high oven temperature program rate used for quantitative analyses.

Fig. 1 shows the extracted ion profiles in the case of Erythroxylum argentinum, which was the wild species with the lowest quantified cocaine content. It demonstrates the specificity of the method, which requires the simultaneous presence of the three cocaine ions, together with the precise retention time.

Cocaine was detected in 23 of the 51 species examined. All the investigated sections except one (Pachylobus) contained at least one cocaine-producing species. This suggests, as indicated by previous studies (Aynilian et al., 1974; Plowman and Rivier, 1983), that cocaine is widely distributed among the genus Erythroxylum, irrespective of the sections.

Fourteen species are reported to contain cocaine for the first time – Erythroxylum amazonicum, Erythroxylum citrifolium, Erythroxylum laetevirens, Erythroxylum argentinum, Erythroxylum cumanense, Erythroxylum densum, Erythroxylum frangulifolium, Erythroxylum subrotundum, Erythroxylum cuneifolium, Erythroxylum divaricatum, Erythroxylum gonocladum, Erythroxylum andreii, Erythroxylum aturense, and Erythroxylum confusum.

Among them, Erythroxylum laetevirens, a shrub with pale-greenish flowers and green fruits, was the wild species with by far the highest cocaine content (0.011% dry weight). Thus, its alkaloid profile was accurately determined and compared with those of two cultivated Erythroxylum coca species, as well as with a “Mate de coca” commercially available on the market in La Paz in Bolivia.

Quantitative results showed that even if the cocaine content in Erythroxylum laetevirens was markedly higher than in all the other investigated wild species, it was nonetheless much lower than in the “Mate de coca”, as well as in the cultivated species. In the literature, it has been reported that in these species, the lowest cocaine content was found in the Ipadu variety (0.11–0.41%) and the highest content in the Truxillense variety (0.42–1.02%), while the cocaine content in the Novogranatense variety ranges from 0.17 to 0.76% (Holmstedt et al., 1977; Plowman and Rivier, 1983). Our results are in good agreement with these values and suggest that the “Mate de coca” probably consists
of coca leaves, but not from the Ipadu variety (Plowman, 1981; Schultes, 1981).

According to Engelke and Gentner, 1991, herbal tea bags sold under the name “Health Inca Tea” or “Mate de Coca” are commercially available since 1981 in Peru. The authors mentioned that the investigated tea bags were produced and packed in Peru from the leaves of Erythroxylum novogranatense var. truxillense by a national enterprise. Even if the product was claimed to be decocainized, the percentage of cocaine present in the plant tissue raised up to 0.37%, corresponding to about 3.7 mg of cocaine per tea bag.

Similarly, Jenkins et al. (1996), analysed coca tea bags from Peru and Bolivia and indicated that cocaine, benzoylecgonine, ecgonine methyl ester and trans-cinnamoylcocaine were present in variable quantities.

After exhaustive extraction, they found an average cocaine content of roughly 5mg per tea bag consisting of 1 g plant material. When they prepared tea according to the labeling instructions, an average of about 4mg cocaine was found per cup. These results were in good agreement with other investigations (Rivier, 1981; El Sohly et al., 1986; Siegel et al., 1986; Jackson et al., 1991). The cocaine content in the “Mate de coca” measured in the present study (0.60%), together with the qualitative chromatographic profile, indicate that the investigated tea bags consisted of basically pure coca leaves

Finally, as Erythroxylum laetevirens had not been investigated previously, a qualitative chromatographic profile of its alkaloid content was carried out and compared with those of cultivated coca species. All chromatographic profiles displayed a similar tropane alkaloid pattern. Indeed, hygrine, anhydro-ecgonine methyl ester, ecgonine methyl ester, cocaine, and two characteristic cinnamoylcocaines were unambiguously identified in all samples. The material that appeared between 20 and 27 min in all chromatographic profiles consisted mainly of fatty acids.

4. Conclusions

In the present study, the leaf samples of 51 different Erythroxylum species were investigated for their cocaine content. Twenty-eight species had not been examined previously and cocaine was detected in 23 wild Erythroxylum species. Cocaine content was less than 0.001% for all wild species, except for Erythroxylum laetevirens in which a 10 times higher amount was determined. The qualitative chromatographic profile of the
latter species was very similar to that of cultivated coca species.

In particular, the characteristic cinnamoylcocaines were present. Comparison of GC profiles and quantitative results showed that the so-called “Mate de coca”, also known as “Health Inca tea”, was mainly composed of pure coca leaves. Consequently, the consumption of coca tea will result in ingestion of varying amounts of cocaine, together with other related tropane alkaloids.

Before any overall chemotaxonomic conclusions are drawn regarding the occurrence of cocaine throughout the genus, further phytochemical investigations on more species are required. It appears from the present study that Cocaine, even in trace amounts is not specifically produced by species belonging to a single section of the genus. Rather, it is widely distributed and thus cannot be used as a specific marker for the genus.

Besides classical botanical or chemotaxonomical approaches, some recent progress has been made in using DNA profiling to characterize the cocaine-producing species (Johnson et al., 2003). This technique, applied to the whole genus, should significantly help to revise the classification of the species within the Erythroxylum genus.


The authors are indebted to Dr. L. Rivier who kindly provided the samples collected by the late Dr. T. Plowman, and who encouraged us to pursue this phytochemical investigation on the Erythroxylum genus.


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