The coca leaf infusion, also known as mate, has a stimulating effect similar to that of coffee. Likewise, it is usually taken after eating to facilitate digestion.
Its consumption is becoming increasingly popular around the world thanks to its incredible health benefits. Get to know them, here.
Breaking myths about the coca leaf
The coca leaf (Erythroxylum coca) is native to the Andean areas of Bolivia and Peru.
In these countries, what is known as mate or coca tea is taken, which is the infusion of this ancient, magical and medicinal plant.
Its stimulating effect is similar to that of coffee. In the same way, it is also usually taken after a meal to facilitate digestion, accompanied by a little sugar or honey.
Although it is a natural stimulant, the infusion of coca leaf is not an exciting one. Therefore, it can be taken at any time of the day without the risk of nervousness or insomnia.
Is It Legal?
This drink is taken, in the first place, to combat altitude sickness or soroche, since it does not carry any side effects for health.
On the other hand, the coca leaf has always been chewed to increase the intake of oxygen to the blood and brain.
This is what is known as “chaqchada”, which consists of chewing it until creating a bolus.
We must specify that the consumption of coca leaf infusion is legal in several countries of South America. In other countries, laws will vary. What you will find is that in many countries where it appears to be illegal, nobody is ever prosecuted for drinking it. People came running to problems when trying to import the tea, as customs may seize it. However, we have never heard of anybody getting to legal trouble for bringing it in… The worst that seems to happen is that they lose their money and their tea.
The cocaine concentration in the leaf is very low (between 0.1 and 0.8%), so it does not cause toxicity or dependence.
The coca leaf is rich in vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3, C and E), and minerals (calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium or potassium).
Next, we detail the health benefits of coca leaf infusion:
- On the one hand, it regulates blood pressure and improves oxygenation of the blood and brain. It also stimulates the respiratory system.
- On the other hand, it facilitates digestion and the expulsion of gases. It also regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates, which is very suitable for people who do not digest flour and sugars well. In turn, it prevents tooth decay and osteoporosis thanks to its calcium content, higher than that of milk.
- It also fights iron deficiency anemia.
- It has analgesic properties, so it calms all kinds of pain, such as arthritis or rheumatism.
- Improves liver function and cleanses the blood of toxins. The consumption of coca leaf helps to eliminate the fat that accumulates in the liver and to convert it into energy.
- Another of its benefits is that it combats fluid retention thanks to its diuretic properties.
- Improves attention, concentration and memory and increases physical endurance.
- It should be noted that it prevents obesity and bulimia, thanks to the control it exerts on the appetite without cancelling it.
- Cleanses the urinary tract and prevents infections. It is also astringent, so it is very suitable for cases of diarrhea.
- Reduces high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Prevents premature aging.
- Finally, it strengthens the intestinal bacterial flora and, as a consequence, the immune system.
Let’s Prepare The Infusion!
Coca Tea Powder (eg Delisse brand)
First, we will bring water to a boil and, when it reaches a boil, we will add one or two teaspoons of powdered coca leaf per infusion. Then, we will let it steep for a maximum of 5 minutes.
After resting we can strain it, or just drink it, powder and all.
Finally, we can take it with a little honey or brown sugar.
We will simply add boiling water to the bag and let it rest for 5 minutes.
More detailed preparation instructions can be found here
The powdered form of coca leaf is also marketed in Peru as “flour”, with which we can make candies, cookies and cakes.
To your health!