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(Specimen of a branch grown in a hot-house, property of Mr. Mariani.)


University of CalbrniaNLfc)b









These pages are inscribed and respectfully dedicated
to the Medical Profession, as a token of appreciation
for the kind aid ever extended to me in my efforts
to popularize that valuable addition to therapeutics,
" Krythroxylon Coca/'


41 Boulevard Haussmann,
Paris, France.


(Showing leaves and seeds. Nos. i and 2, Coca leaves seen by
transmitted light.)

All illustrations in this volume have been specially pre-
pared for this work, and are from original drawings from
life by M. Mariani.


race has its fashions and fancies. The
Indian munches the betel; the Chinaman
woos with passion the brutalizing intoxi-
cation of opium ; the European occupies his
idle hours or employs his leisure ones in smoking,
chewing or snuffing tobacco. Guided by a happier
instinct, the native of South America has adopted
Coca. When young, he robs his father of it ; later
on, he devotes his first savings to its purchase.
Without it he would fear vertigo on the summit of
the Andes, and weaken at his severe labor in the
mines. It is with him everywhere ; even in his
sleep he keeps his precious quid in his mouth.

But should Coca be regarded merely as a mastica-
tory ? And must we accept as irrevocable the decision
of certain therapeutists : " Cocaine, worthless ; Coca,
superfluous drug " ? (i)

For several years laryngologists such as : Fauvel,
of France ; Morell Mackenzie and Lennox Browne, of

(l) Nothnagel et Rossbach, Nouveaux Elements de 7 r he'rapeutiqiie,

England ; and Elsberg, of America, had undertaken
the defense of Coca.

Under such patronage Coca and its preparations were
not slow in becoming popular.

Charles Fauvel was the first to make use of it as a
general tonic, having a special action on the larynx ;
and to make known its anaesthetic and analgesic quali-

Coca was further recommended, as it were empiric-
ally, against stomatitis, gingivitis, gastric disturbances,
and phthisis (Rabuteau), Elements de therapeutique
et de pharmacologie.

Although striking effects were obtained from this
valuable medicine, its full worth was yet unknown
and there was diversity of opinion as to its mode of
action, until the communications of Koller, of Vienna,
on Coca and Cocaine, appeared in 1884.

These interesting publications led to such general
discussion among medical men, that nearly every one
eagerly followed the work, and watched the splendid
results obtained by the Viennese physician (now Pro-
fessor of Ophthalmology in New York Polyclinic).

It is found that studies made of the active prin-
ciples of Coca have entirely corroborated our pre-
visions, and probably no subject has received greater
attention than have the virtues of this little Peruvian
shrub, formerly looked upon in Europe with so much


The scientific study of the principles of Coca may be
considered as completed ; and we believe that the time
has arrived in which to summarize data regarding
this therapeutic agent, so that the employment of our
preparations may be based on positive clinical ex-

The aim of this modest work is to offer to the medi-
cal profession a short account of the history of Coca,
and of the investigations which it has called forth up
to the present day.

We propose to divide our subject into five parts.

1ST. We will describe the botanical character of
Coca, and also speak of its culture and the mode of
gathering it.

2D. Its history, its properties and uses.

30. The physiological researches made in the
domain of Coca, devoting a special chapter to Cocaine.

4TH. Its therapeutic application.

Finally we will quote some general conclusions
and explanations regarding the method of using our
different preparations, based on observations made by
competent physicians in Europe and America.


(Grown in a Hot-house by Mr. Mariani showing general frail condition

of the leaf.)




|OCA is indigenous to South America. The differ-
ent botanists disagree as to which exact family it
should be assigned. Linnaeus, De Candolle,
Payer, Raymundi of Lima, Huntk, and others,
place it in the family of the Erythroxylecz, of which there
exists but one genus, the ErytJiroxylon, while Jussien adopts
another classification and places it in the family of the
Malpighiacece (genus Set Ida). Lamarck, on the contrary, be-
lieves that this plant should be classed among the family
of Nerprem (Rhamnese).

ErytJiroxylon Coca is a shrub which reaches a height of
from six to nine feet and the stem is of about the thickness
of a finger. In our climate it cannot thrive except in a
hot-house, and there its height does not exceed one metre.

The root, rather thick, shows multiple and uniform
divisions ; its trunk is covered with a ridged bark, rugged,
nearly always glabrous, and of a whitish color. Its boughs
and branches, rather numerous, are alternant, sometimes
covered with thorns when the plant is cultivated in a soil
which is not well adapted to it.

The leaves, which fall spontaneously at the end of each
season, are alternate, petiolate, with double intra-accillary
stipules at the base. In shape they are elliptical-lanceolate,
their size varying according to the nature of the plant or
of the soil in which it, grows.


The leaf of Coca gathered in Peru, of which we give
two figures of the natural size, is generally larger and
thicker than the leaf of the Bolivian Coca. It is also richer
in the alkaloid, consequently much more bitter.

The Coca leaf from Bolivia, smaller than the Peruvian
leaf, is as much esteemed as the latter, although it contains




Upper surface of the leaf.

Lower surface of the leaf, showing the longitudinal projections of the two
sides of the midrib.

less of the alkaloid. It possesses so exquisite and so soft
an aroma, indeed, that the coqueros seek it in preference
to any other.

The Coca leaves of Brazil and Colombia are much smaller
than those of Peru and Bolivia. Their color is much paler,
Containing but traces of the alkaloid they are not bitter,
and possess a pleasant, but very volatile aroma.


One of the most important characteristics of the Coca
leaf is the disposition of its nervures ; parallel with the
midrib two longitudinal projections are to be seen, which,
starting from the base of the leaf, extend in a gentle curve
to its point.

(Lower surface.)

The upper surface of these leaves is of a beautiful green
tint ; the lower surface of a paler green, except, however,
near the midrib. At this point, there is a strip of green


darker than the rest, which becomes brown in the withered

The flowers, small, regular and hermaphrodite, white or
greenish yellow, are found either alone or in groups in


little bunches of cyme at the axil of the leaves or bracts,
which take their place on certain branches. The disposi-
tion into cymes is that most commonly met with. They
are supported by a slender pedicel, somewhat inflated at
the top, the length of which does not exceed one centi-


metre. The sepals, joined at the base and lanceolated, are
of a green tint with a whitish top. The petals, half a centi-
metre in length, pointed, concave inside and yellowish white,
exhale a rather pleasant odor. They ate provided with an
exterior appendage, of the same color and of the same con-
sistency, surmounted on each side with an
ascending fimbriated leaf, irregularly tri-
angular in shape. The stamens, at first
joined in a tube for one-third of their
length, afterward separate into white subu-
lated strings, provided with an obtuse ovoid
anther which extends a little beyond the
petals. The ovary is ovoid in shape and
green in color, thickening at the top into
a yellowish glandular tissue. The style
which rises above it separates into three
diverging branches, provided with orbicu-
Seeds of Coca. ^ ar papilliform bodies at their extremity,
obliquely inserted into the slender patina.


The fruit is a drupe of an elongated ovoid form, being
a little more than a centimetre in length, of a reddish color
when fresh, and having a tender, thickish pulp inclosing a
seed. This seed shows longitudinal furrows and alternate
vertical projections which make its division irregularly
hexagonal. When the fruit is dried, the skin assumes
a brownish color, shrivels up and molds itself on the pro-
tuberances and irregularities of the seed.


Erythroxylon Coca appears to have come originally from
Peru, and from there its cultivation was carried into
Bolivia, Ecuador, New Grenada, and Brazil, in a word,
throughout the entire torrid zone of South America.

For some time, as a result of the extended consumption
of Coca and for a still stronger reason, now that the day
is at hand when the consumption of Coca will assume
greater proportions, numerous plantations of Coca trees
have been laid out in regions where that shrub was for-
merly unknown. We take pleasure in recording that
these attempts have proved successful in the Antilles,
thanks to the disinterested sacrifices of our friend, Dr.
Betances. It is also with pleasure that we present anew
an interesting communication made by the learned doctor
to the "Societe d'Acclimatation de France" as appeared in
the Revue Diplomatique, 17th of March, 1888.

"Dr. Betances has succeeded in acclimatizing Coca- in
the Antilles. At considerable expense and after numerous
shipments of seeds and the transportation of plants (this
with the greatest difficulty) to Porto Rico and San Domingo,
Dr. Betances had the pleasure of receiving a fine branch
of Coca in full bloom, which was sent to him by Monseig-
neur Mereno, Archbishop of San Domingo. This twig,


Sent by Monseigneur de Merefio, Archbishop of San Domingo,

to Dr. Balances, Paris.


which the members of the Society were enabled to ex-
amine, excited the most lively curiosity and won the com-
mendation of M. Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire. It was raised
from a plant which had been only eighteen months tinder

" In Porto Rico the plant reaches a greater height than
in Peru.

" A box filled with beautiful leaves has also been received
by Dr. Betances and forwarded to Mr. Mariani. This also
came from Monseigneur Mereno.

" It is therefore evident that the plant can be cultivated
in the Antilles and that it may become a source of wealth
to that country."

Plantations like this would probably thrive in Corsica or
Algeria, countries where the temperature at certain points
is somewhat analogous to that of the tropics.

It is a fact that this shrub does not attain its complete de-
velopment except in countries where the mean temperature
is from fifteen to eighteen degrees centigrade.

But heat does not suffice ; great humidity is also neces-
sary to Coca Therefore it is met with principally on the:
sides of hills and at the bottom of wooded valleys which,
abound on both sides of the Cordillieras. Unfortunately,,
these regions are rather distant from the coast and they
are, furthermore, devoid of easy means of communication -
it is above all to this particular cause, the difficulty of
transportation, that we must attribute the relatively high
price of Coca leaves.

The cultivation of Coca trees is begun by sowing the-
seed in beds called Almazigos. As soon as the plant ap-
pears it is protected from the heat of the sun by means
of screens and matting ; when it reaches a height of from
40 to 50 centimetres, it is transferred to furrows 18 centi-
metres in length by 7 in depth, care being taken that each,
plant is separated from its neighbor by a distance of a


During the first year maize is sown in the interspaces,
rapidly overreaching the shrub, and taking the place of
the screens and mats.

The growth of the shrub is rather rapid, reachipg its
full height in about five years. But the time when it
becomes productive precedes that at which it attains its
complete height by about 3 years after being planted.

After that, when the season has
been especially damp, it yields as
often as four times a year.

Attempts have been made to ac-
climatize it in Europe, but so far
without success. As early as 1869
the cultivation of it was tried in
the Botanical Garden of Hyeres,
but no satisfactory result was ob-
tained. We presented, in 1872,
two samples to the appreciative
and learned director of the Garden
of Acclimatization of Paris, M.
Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire, and not-
withstanding all the care taken of
the young plants, they failed to
reach their full growth. Several
frail Coca plants may be seen in
the conservatories of the Jardin
des Plantes de Paris, in the Botan-
ical Gardens of London, of Brus-
sels, etc., likewise at several great
horticulturists' of Gand, notably
Van Houten's. As may be seen by the large colored en-
graving (1) and by the branch engraved above, these
specimens of E.rythroxylon Coca are very far from giving an
idea of the plant growing in the open air, in a soil and

(i) This cut represents the Coca shrub presented by Mr. A. Mariani to the
Paris Botanical Gardens.

as grown in a hot-house.

under a temperature that are favorable to its development,
as shown by the leaves of Peruvian Coca, illustrated above,
and which come from one of the newest haciendas of Santa-
Anna, belonging to M. M.-P. Concha, bordering on the
territory of a savage tribe of Antis or Campas, on the Uru-
banba river, which joins the Amazon in latitude 12 S.,
longitude 75 W.


The plant begins to yield when it is about a year and a
half old.

The leaf is the only part of the plant used.

It should be gathered in dry weather ; this is entrusted
generally to women, and simply consists in plucking each
leaf with the fingers.

The leaves are received into aprons, carefully carried
under sheds, to shelter them from the rain and dampness,
dried, and then packed.

We quote from the Voyage dans la region du Titicaca, by
Paul Marcoy, the following passage (" Tour of the World,"
May, 1877) : " Of all the valleys of the Carabaya group,
Ituata is the one where Coca is cultivated on the largest
scale. They were then at the height of the work, peons
and peonnes were following each other through the plan-
tations of the shrub, so dear to the natives that a decree
of 1825 placed it in the crown of the arms of Peru, along-
side of the vicunia and cornucopia, or horn -of -plenty.
Men and women carried a cloth slung across the shoulders
in which were placed the leaves, as they gathered them
one by one. These leaves, spread out on large awnings,
were exposed to the sun for two or three days, then packed
up in bags of about one metre in size, and sent off to all
parts of the territory.


" This gathering of the Coca is just such an occasion for
rejoicing for the natives of the valleys, as reaping-time and
harvests are for our peasants. On the day when the
gathering of the leaves is finished both sexes that have
taken part in the work assemble and celebrate, in dances
and libations, the pleasure they experience in having
finished their labors."

In 1851, the annual production of Bolivia was estimated
to be more than 400,000 certos (600,000 kilogrammes) of
Coca leaves, of which three-quarters came from the pro-
vince of Yungas.



flOCA has been known from time immemorial in
South America. At the time when Pizarro
landed on the Peruvian coast, the leaf of Coca
was held in great esteem among the natives ; it
was considered to be a divine plant, a living representation
of the Deity, a fetish of wonderful and supernatural quali-
ties, and the fields where it grew were reverenced as sanc-
tuaries. Not everybody was allowed to make use of it ;
its use was the privilege of the nobles and of the priests,
and among the greatest rewards that the sovereign could
give his subjects, the privilege of chewing Coca leaves was
most highly esteemed.

However strange such a superstition may appear, it is
indisputable, and all authors that have published the ac-
count of the conquest of the Indies corroborate it. It will
suffice for us to quote the testimony of Joseph Acosta, who
says in every letter, of his natural and moral history of the
Indies, of the East as well as of the West, published in

" The Indians esteem it highly, and during the reign of
the Incas, the common people were not allowed to use Coca
without the permission of the Governor."

The disappearance of the empire of the Incas, far from
diminishing the importance of Coca, on the contrary gave
a very much greater scope to its popularity. The natives


profited by their freedom from the restrictions imposed
by the native rulers in regard to the consumption of Coca,
and soon the use of this leaf became so common that it
has been compared by every one interested in the question
to the use of tobacco by us, and, as it has justly been
added, without its objections. There is no more likeli-
hood of seeing a smoker embark without his tobacco than
an Indian begin work or undertake a journey unless his
chuspa (pouch) is full of Coca leaves. Three or four times


a day he sits down, takes some leaves, puts them one by
one into his mouth and rolls them into an aculio (quid),
adding a little llipta (lime), which he takes from his ever-
present poporo. The poporo is a little gourd, bored at the
mouth on the upper part, in which the Indian keeps his
llipta. This llipta is a white powder composed of ashes of
vegetables and of calcined shells pulverized, with which the
consumers of Coca have been accustomed, from the most
remote times, to season their quid. It is, really, an alkaline


substance intended to isolate the different principles of the
leaf and to make the action of the Coca more prompt.

Among those inhabitants of South America, with whom
the use of Coca did not extend to the lower classes until after
the reign of the Incas, and who reserved for themselves, as
we have seen, the right of chewing the Coca leaves, the con-
sumption of Coca by children is strictly prohibited. They
do not indulge in this luxury except in secret, and it ap-
pears to them all the sweeter because it is forbidden. But
nearly always their breath, charged with the tell-tale odor
of Coca, betrays them on approaching their parents, and
the latter make them pay for the pleasure which they have
stolen, and to which they are not entitled until they are of
age, with very severe punishment. Only when they have
grown up will they be allowed "to chew Coca and to carry
the poporo, which they do not relinquish even in the grave.

On coming of age the young Indian is consigned to an
old woman, who keeps him a few hours in her hut to ini-
tiate him in the mysteries of man's estate.

After this ceremony she gives him the chuspa (Coca
pouch), invests him with the poporo and consecrates him
a coquero. One should, see with what pride the young
Indian leaves the threshold of the sacred cabin, which he
entered as a child scarcely a few hours before and from
which he departs a man, that is to say, carrying the chuspa
and the poporo, and able to chew with impunity, before the
old people, this precious leaf which had been forbidden
him until then.

No happiness is comparable to his ! See with what an
important air he draws forth the Coca leaves from his
chuspa, as he rolls them in his fingers to make a large
quid of them, which he carries to his mouth, moistens
delightingly with saliva, and places under his jaws and
against his cheeks. He is seen holding carefully in his
right hand the little stick, the extremity of which he
is going to moisten by putting it into his month, and


which he will dip into the poporo in order that the llipta
may adhere to its moistened part.

He carefully carries the part of his little stick covered
with llipta to his quid, and thus performs the operation
of mixing 1 the alkaline powder with the masticated leaf,
It is at this moment that the quid of Coca affords the young
adult the most delightful sensation. His jaws munch it
slowly, his tongue collects and rolls it up against the left
cheek, all the papilla of his mouth refresh themselves
deliciously with the soothing and aromatic juices of the
precious leaf, and by the slow and measured motions of
deglutition, he carries with delight the precious juice into
the pharynx and thence to the stomach. While he is ac-
complishing this important operation, his eyes swim with
beatitude, over his entire countenance is diffused an ex-
pression of content and unutterable joy, and his right hand
slowly turns the little stick around the upper part of the
poporo, where are deposited little by little the particles of
llipta and masticated Coca, which on leaving his mouth
adhere to its extremity.

The only occupation of the first days of the adult is
the much-loved quid of Coca and the encrusting of his
gourd, which we cannot do better than compare to the
coating of the pipe, with this difference that our confirmed
smokers blacken hundreds of their pipes during their
existence, while the Indian encrusts only one gourd in his
whole life ; so that by the thickness of the crust formed
around & poporo, it is possible to judge the age of its owner-
This crust, which hardly ever exceeds the thickness of a
ring on the poporo of a young Indian, ends by reaching the
dimension of the pileus of a large mushroom on the poporo
of an old man.

The crust is produced by the particles of Coca and llipta
mixed with saliva which are deposited little by little about
the mouth of the poporo by smearing with the stick.

These deposits are brought about in an almost imper


ceptible manner. It is only after some months that the
surface of the poporo, on which the chewer continually
turns the little stick, becomes covered with a hardly per-
ceptible layer of calcareous substance ; at the end of two or
three years the superimposed layers form a ring which
grows larger from year to year, and which finally attains
the thickness we have spoken of above.

Small stick for extracting the Llipta from the poporo.

i. Poporo of a youth. 2. Poporo of a man in 3. Poporo of an old man.

his prime.

As we have said before, the Indian never parts with his
poporo, let him be awake or asleep, at home or on his travels,
tlie poporo is always attached to his belt. An Indian would
part with all he holds most dear in the world, all, except
his poporo.

We have the rare and good fortune to possess a poporo,
of which we give a picture (fig. 3). It is, we believe,
the only specimen existing in Europe. We owe it to the
kindness of M. Gauguet, who has made numerous voyages
to Colombia, where he has been able to establish so much
sympathy among the natives that one of their old chiefs,
who was specially indebted, did not fear to depart from all


custom and to incur the contempt of his companions, by
offering- him, as a pledge of friendship, the object to which
he attached the greatest value his poporo / (1)

Thus the great importance that an Indian attaches to
Coca is easily shown. It should be recognized, moreover,
that the first conquerors of the country did not fail to
countenance the passion of the vanquished for the national
plant. In fact, they quickly recognized that the habit of
consuming Coca might become an excellent source of
revenue ; and Garcillasco de la Ve"ga, a half-breed of the
first generation, tells us that in his time a part of the im-
post was paid to the conqueror in the form of Coca leaves.
The benefits which were derived from the traffic in this
plant were such that at a certain time the revenues of the
bishop and of the canons of the cathedral of Cuzco came
from the tithe on these leaves.

There was, moreover, another object in favoring the use
of Coca among the Indians. The latter were treated, as
is known, as if they were beasts of burden, and their

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