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Can Coca Leaves Cure A Hangover?

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Saturday, October 31, 2009

While working in Barrios Altos today I headed over to La Parada, all of which is located in the district of La Victoria.  There I came across this old lady selling what at first sight was a huge burlap sack of leaves.  It took a few seconds after I walked by to realize she was selling coca leaves (the very same leaf that provides so many of our worlds addicts with that extra pep for their know C.O.C.A.I.N.E.).  Having realize what the old woman was selling I thought it would make for an interesting photo so I headed back to her stand and politely asked her if I could take a photo of her and her merchandise.  I laughed as she responded by saying:

"Depends on how much you're going to buy!"

Not really sure at the moment what I would do with a bag full of coca leaves I decide to purchase S/.1.00 of leaves.  She then asked me which kind of coca leave I wanted to which I looked at here with a puzzled expression.  Apparently there is more than one type of coca leaf, and here I thought they were all the same.  The two types she had for sale ended up being from two totally different regions, one sack of leaves was from the jungles of Huanuco (a department in the North Eastern region of Peru) and were smaller in size.  The other sack of leaves came from the sierra of Ayacucho and were much larger in size and had a brighter green color.  While she bagged my purchase I took the opportunity to take a few pictures:


With my coca leaves in hand I started to walk away when the old lady stopped me to say:  "one sol!", I had forgotten to pay her.  With coca leaves in hand carefully wrapped in a plastic bag I couldn't help but feel a little bad, afterall I was in posession of a product that is deemed illegal in the United States as well as many other countries.  It's moments like this I wished I had brought my Ipod so that I could rock out to Eric Clapton's famous hit song "Cocaine".  Luckily I was not violating any law by having coca leaves in my possession since it's not considered illegal to consume them/drink them/chew them/smoke them.  I am aware that many people in Peru grow coca leaves and am not entirely sure how the government deems coca leave production as legal or illegal,  it's rather a very controversial topic here in Peru so I won't even bother trying to go into detail about it at this time.

Not really sure what to do with the leaves I had pondered giving them away since but before I could make any kind of donation a thought came into my head in the form of a question.
"Can coca leaves cure a hangover?"

Knowing fairly well that tonights events will require the irrational consumption of multiple alcoholic beverages for the sake of entertainment, I pondered wither or not taking coca leaves the next day (either in tea form or just chewing them) would help to cure the inevitable hangover that is surely awaiting me.  For those of you who don't know coca leaves contain many different alkaloids one of which, Cocaine is very commonly relied on for its effects.  

Cocaine also known as benzoylmethylecgonine (for the biology/botany geeks), is classified as a stimulant as well as an appetite suppressant (perfect for those wanting to lose a few pounds).  Is cocaine addictive? Yes, it is but so is nicotine, coffee, alcohol, gambling, sex, pornography, and just about any other good time sin you can think of thats legal in most countries.

Coca leaves have been used for their nutrients and chemical properties for hundreds of years and were originally consumed by the indiginous groups of South America.  Since then the use the coca leaves properties have been exploited by man for profit and experimentation purposes making it one of the world's most popular plants.  The substance was even used as wonder drug to cure even the most common ailments like a toothache (where was this stuff when I was a kid?).  Does Coca-Cola ring a bell to anyone?

For those of you curious or interested in learning more about cocaine then check out it's wiki page HERE.

Getting back to the question originally asked "will coca leaves cure a hangover?"  My hypothesis is that consumption of the coca leaves will be able to alleviate my the effects of my hangover.  I base this hypothesis on previous knowledge that people have used coca leaves to cure altitude sickness, which has side effects similar to those of a hangover.  Tomorrow I will post a follow up After Action Report, depending on wither or not I am suffering from a hangover.   

So Stay Tuned!



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