“Educating health professionals about potential uses of coca in contemporary medicine and about the great difference between whole coca and isolated cocaine is a priority.”
May 26, 2022 4:40 pm
Andrew Weil, M.D., is a world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine. Combining a Harvard education and a lifetime of practicing natural and preventive medicine, he is the founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, where he is a clinical professor of medicine and professor of public health. A New York Times best-selling author, Dr. Weil is the author of 15 books on health and wellbeing, including Mind Over Meds: Know When Drugs Are Necessary, When Alternatives Are Better, and When to Let Your Body Heal on Its Own; Fast Food, Good Food; True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure; Spontaneous Happiness; Healthy Aging; and Eight Weeks to Optimum Health. Dr. Weil is a frequent guest on talk shows and the lecture circuit. He is the editorial director of DrWeil.com, the leading online resource for healthy living based on the philosophy of integrative medicine. He is also a founder and partner in the growing family of True Food Kitchen restaurants. In partnership with Seabourn and The Onboard Spa by Steiner, his “Spa and Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil” mindful-living program is offered on all of the Seabourn cruise ships.
The Therapeutic Potential of Coca
Despite being one of the world’s most important medicinal plants, of great historical, cultural, and social significance, research on coca is very limited. Indigenous peoples of the Andes and Amazonia attribute many therapeutic properties to coca, but few attempts have been made to document them. In whole-leaf form, coca is a relatively safe stimulant with a low potential for abuse. It is widely used to treat gastro-intestinal ailments, altitude sickness, and metabolic problems, appears to stabilize blood sugar and prevent the expression of type 2 diabetes in genetically susceptible populations. Cocaine is one of a number of chemically similar alkaloids in coca, a complex mixture of agonists and antagonists that help normalize key body functions; the leaf also provides flavor compounds and micronutrients. Whole coca extracts, in the form of lozenges or chewing gums, would deliver these elements in a manner similar to the indigenous method of chewing the leaves. Coca is available for therapeutic use under US and international laws, although there are no legal exports from producing nations. Educating health professionals about potential uses of coca in contemporary medicine and about the great difference between whole coca and isolated cocaine is a priority.