Coca. Erythroxylon coca.

Botanical name: 


Cocaine, cinnamyl-cocaine, truxil-cocaine, hygrine.


Extractum Cocae Fluidum, Fluid Extract of Coca. Dose, from one-half to one dram.
Specific Medicine Coca. Dose, from one-half to one dram.

Physiological Action—The natives of South America and laborers in that country use coca, chewing the leaves, much as tobacco is used in other parts of the world. It abolishes the sensation of hunger for a time. This may in part be accounted for by its producing anesthesia of the nerves of the stomach. It does not take the place of food. It increases the powers of endurance and confers a singular immunity from the suffering incident to privation and excessive physical exertion. These effects are accounted for, in part at least, by the anesthetic effect of cocaine, which is its principal constituent. In large doses it increases the animal heat and quickens the pulse and respiration. By increasing the dose the nervous system is excited, with increase of desire for muscular exertion; while in poisonous doses it causes delirium, hallucinations and congestion of the brain. The general effect of coca is to stimulate the nervous system and retard retrograde metamorphosis. The prolonged use of the drug causes a degeneration of the nervous system characteristic of narcotics, though when used in moderation this effect is not observed.

The influence of coca on the native habitue of the tropics, and its influence upon the civilized inhabitants of the temperate zones are very different influences. Its continued use among the latter is most serious, inducing habits more degrading and pernicious than the use of opium and alcohol, and as fatal to mental and physical integrity.

The effects attributed to the drug are only what might be expected from the action of so powerful an alkaloid as is contained in the coca leaves.

Therapy—There are few cases of neurasthenia in which this agent will not be found useful. Taken after dinner, it serves often to facilitate digestion, and even confirmed dyspeptics find their distressing symptoms relieved by it. It is of especial value in cases where exhausting mental labor has led to morbid depression of spirits. It is valuable in all cases of despondency. It relieves the nervous irritability that follows over-indulgence of any kind, restoring the capacity for work and renewing the energy.

It acts to an extent as an antidote to the effect of opium, alcohol, tobacco or coffee, and judiciously used is said to enable one to overcome the morbid craving for any of these stimulants when they have been used to excess.

It is used by public speakers and singers, who have found themselves in better voice after using it.

As a remedy for nausea and vomiting from reflex causes, particularly in the vomiting of pregnancy, the cordial proves extremely efficacious. For this purpose it should be taken a few moments before meals, and the dose repeated in an hour or so afterwards. Gastralgia is frequently relieved by this remedy, and nervous headaches often disappear under its use.

It is of service also in cases of asthma. It is an aphrodisiac and emmenagogue. It is an antiperiodic. Internally and locally it has been used for hemorrhoids. As a restorative in feeble heart it is of much value.

The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, 1919, was written by Finley Ellingwood, M.D.
It was scanned by Michael Moore for the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.