The Incas regarded coca as the divine plant mainly because of its property of imparting endurance, nevertheless its use was entwined with every aspect of life; the art, mythology, culture and economy of the Inca Empire.
Millions of Andeans have chewed coca on a daily basis for many hundreds of years .The coca leaf has been sacred to Andean people since the dawn of pre-Colombian civilization, yet never has a plant been so misrepresented and its use so controlled by prejudice and ignorance, including up to the present day.
The sacredness of the coca plant stems from the Inca mythology, when Tayta Inti, father sun, saw that the people of the world were living no better than animals he sent his son, Manco Capac and his daughter, Mama Ocllo, to guide and teach the people. As part of the teachings Manco Capac, the first Inca, taught the people the many uses of the coca plant. For this reason the people of Andes believe that the plant is sacred. It is believed that the first to use the coca plant were the Aymara people from the Lake Titicaca region, the area from which Manco Capac first appeared and then spread to the Quechua people found the other regions of the Andes. Coca was used throughout the Incan Empire.
Benefits of Coca Leafs
A long-lasting energy boost
This is the number one reason coca has become such an intricate part of Andean culture. Before industrialization, working longs days of extremely hard labor was the norm. Coca’s consistent energy boost allowed workers to go harder and work for longer. These days, it is a favorite among miners and bus drivers for its long-lasting energy kick without the spike and crash effect of caffeine.
A reduction of appetite
Chewing coca makes those hunger pangs go away. This is of utmost importance to the underprivileged workers of South America who often don’t have the time or the money to eat three good meals a day. Coca lets them get on with the job without being constantly distracted by an empty stomach. It can also be used as a dietary aid to discourage the obese from overeating.
Consuming coca leaves creates a numbing effect on pain and discomfort. While it’s not an extremely powerful analgesic, For example, the coca leaf would have been instrumental in assisting the Incas to lug those huge stones all the way to Machu Picchu.
A remedy for altitude sickness
The coca leaf is fantastic at reducing the unwanted symptoms of altitude sickness which include nausea, breathlessness, insomnia, loss of appetite, fatigue and headache. This natural cure has been used by locals for millennia and is so widely known that virtually all hotels in high altitude Andean cities supply it to their guests.
A source of nutrients
The coca leaf has a variety of beneficial nutritional properties. It’s got plenty of essential minerals (calcium, magnesium and phosphorus), stacks of vitamins (A, B1, B2, B6, C, and E) and important nutrients such as fiber and protein. Daily coca consumption is the perfect natural alternative to taking dietary supplements.
An upset stomach remedy
A hot cup of coca tea is a great way to relieve the pain and nausea that comes with an upset tummy. This is handy while traveling through the Andes, where food hygiene may not be up to the same standards as at home. While it does provide noticeable relief, it’s still important to keep well hydrated and seek medical attention if problems persist.