Evidence

These uses have been tested in humans or animals.  Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven.  Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Key to grades

A
Strong scientific evidence for this use
B
Good scientific evidence for this use
C
Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D
Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work)
F
Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work)

Grading rationale

Evidence gradeCondition to which grade level applies
C

Altitude sickness

In athletes training in the Andes, coca infusions have been studied for their use in helping to adapt to high altitudes. Coca leaf tea has displayed promising effects on exercise performance and improving low blood sugar in high-altitude settings. Further study is needed.
C

Anesthetic

Coca leaves have been used in mixtures for surgery due to their anesthetic effects. The Inca used maize, datura (of the nightshade family), espingo (a psychotropic fruit), tobacco, San Pedro cactus, and coca to prepare an alcoholic beverage used to induce unconsciousness for surgeries. Further study is needed on the use of the coca plant alone.
C

Cocaine dependence

Coca leaves have been suggested as a possible treatment for cocaine and cocaine base abuse. Further study is needed before a conclusion may be drawn.
C

Exercise performance

The effects of coca use on responses to exercise have been studied. Preliminary evidence shows that coca use may boost exercise tolerance. Further study is needed before conclusions may be drawn.
C

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

Early studies show that chewing coca leaves may improve low blood sugar. Although not well studied in humans, some parts of coca have caused high blood sugar. Further study is needed before a firm conclusion may be drawn.

Uses based on tradition or theory

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Adaptogen, addiction (morphine), antidepressant, appetite suppressant, arthritis, asthma, bleeding, broken bones, bruises, cachexia (tissue wasting), colds, constipation, diarrhea, diaphoresis (sweating), digestion, fatigue, food additive, headaches, hemorrhoids, insecticide, joint pain, malaria, myalgia (muscle pain), nausea and vomiting, nosebleeds, pain, rashes, sexual dysfunction, stimulant, stomach problems, swelling (feet), thirst, tonic, toothache, ulcers, wounds.

This evidence-based monograph was prepared by The Natural Standard Research Collaboration

www.naturalstandard.com