Thursday, April 28, 2011

Coca Smokables FE Stewart


BY F. E. STEWART, M.d., PH.G.,
(CTan o/1Syq.)
Of Philadelphia.

I have been experimenting for some time with the leaf of Erythroxylon Coca in the form of a cigar—first, for the purpose of ascertaining whether the drug would thus produce its physiological effects, and, secondly, in view of a new therapeutic application. It is too soon yet to express a positive opinion in regard to the latter, but I have had sufficient experience with them to say something about the former; and as I find that others are already commencing to enter this field, I may be excused for calling the attention of the profession at this early date, my excuse being that I wish to receive what credit may accrue from my share in their introduction.

Some time after I commenced my experiments I found that Dr. Lewis Lewis, of this city, was employing coca in the form of a cigarette, in the treatment of throat affections, with success, and, as he says that he has been using the drug in this way for nine years, he is entitled, certainly, to the credit of priority.

Dr. Lewis's cigarettes are composed partly of coca- and partly of tobacco-leaf. This has its advantages and disadvantages. Without discussing this point, however, I employed a cigar made of pure coca-leaf, with a wrapper of mild imported tobacco of fine quality, and a cigarette of pure coca-leaf containing no tobacco, wrapped with the best quality of rice paper. Those who do not object to the tobacco can use the cigars, while those who have objections to it can employ the cigarette; while for those who object to the tobacco wrapper and the paper wrapper also, I prepare a " smoking tobacco " of pure cocaleaf, without admixture of any kind, which may be smoked in a pipe.

Coca is too well known to the profession to make it necessary for anything more than the briefest description of the plant, its history, or its virtues.

The Erythroxylon Coca grows in moist and woody regions on the eastern slope of the Andes, from two thousand to ten thousand feet above the level of the sea, and is highly valued and cultivated by the natives of Peru, Chili, and Bolivia, who make great use of it as a medicine and as an article of diet. It answers as a substitute for the tea, coffee, tobacco, hashish, opium, etc., of other nations. The natives masticate the dried leaves with finely powdered chalk, or with a highly alkaline substance prepared from roasted potatoes and the ashes of various plants, and which they call llipta. It is said that its use enables them to endure fatigue and exertion for many hours, and even for several days, with but little nourishment of any other kind, and while under its influence they are said to perform prodigies of labor.

Let me compare, therefore, the action of these cigars with that said to be produced by the drug, not only by the natives, but by Bartholow, Wood, the United States Dispensatory, the National Dispensatory, and other authorities equally well known, who are investigating the properties of this remarkable drug.

First, all authorities agree that the use of coca, either in the leaf, fluid extract, or wine, is followed by a feeling of contentment and of well-being; the sense of fatigue is removed: drowsiness is experienced for a brief period, but is soon followed by wakefulness and increased mental activity. The celebrated pedestrian Weston, having learned their powers, was detected in the use of coca-leaves during one of his extraordinary feats in London. The question, then, is, does coca, smoked, produce these effects?

I have testimony as to the feeling of contentment and well-being. Dr. M.. of Wilmington, Delaware, one of the leading physicians of that State, made some experiments in this direction for me. Being thoroughly acquainted with the effects of the drug, having frequently used it in connection with his extensive practice, and often experienced its effect on himself, what he has to say must be received as of weight. At the time of the experiment which was tried upon himself he was feeling somewhat depressed—had the blues, in other words—owing to the absence of his family and the loneliness of his house without them. After dinner he smoked a couple of the cigars, with the effect that the "blues " were expelled, and he felt the exhilarating effect of the drug in the same manner as after a dose of the wine. It is his opinion that the effect of the cigars is milder than that of the wine, but he is satisfied that he experienced the peculiar power of the coca by smoking it. He will continue his experiments in other cases. *****

Personally, I have found the effect of smoking coca-leaves to bear out the statements that the drug produces a general excitation of the circulatory and nervous systems. Smoking and inhaling the smoke of one or two cigars will increase my own pulse-rate some eight or ten beats to the minute. It certainly relieves the sense of fatigue. Smoked at night, in my own case and in the cases of several of my patients, it produces wakefulness, similar to strong coffee.

The exaltation produced by it does not seem to be followed by any feeling of languor or depression. I find it a relief after a full meal, like a good tobacco cigar. It seems to impart increased vigor to the muscular system as well as to the intellect, with an indescribable feeling of satisfaction. I have never experienced any intoxicating effect from smoking it. Dr. Bartholow says that coca, as is the case with tea and coffee, acts as an indirect nutrient, by checking waste, and hence a less amount of food is found necessary to maintain the bodily functions; and it is probable that some of the constituents of coca are utilized in the economy as food, and that the retardation of tissue waste is not the sole reason why work may be done by the same person better with than without it; and I have just learned, in a letter from Messrs. Parke, Davis & Co., that "a Mr. Stevers, a citizen of Abilene, Kansas, who is afflicted with hay fever, and was about to go to the mountains, has concluded to remain at home, having obtained relief from the use of cigarettes of coca. Every morning

he uses a cigarette, and finds perfect relief. ~~He uses three per day, and also has used an application of two-per-cent. solution of muriate, but finds that the cigarettes relieve him quicker and the effects last longer."

To sum up, therefore, coca smoked seems to produce the same effect on the system as coca taken internally in the form of fluid extract, wine, or elixir, but not in such a marked degree. Coca itself is known to be stimulant, tonic, and restorative to the system in the treatment of various diseases marked by debility and exhaustion. Nervous debility and exhaustion in all its forms, whether caused by diseases or excesses, are said to be relieved by it. Fatigue disappears, to be followed by a feeling of indescribable calm and satisfaction, increased strength of brain and muscle, and desire for mental and muscular occupation.

Coca has been used with great success in the treatment of the opium habit. It is also an excellent substitute for tobacco. It has been successfully used in dyspepsia, flatulency, colic, gastralgia, enteralgia, hysteria, hypochondria, spinal irritation, idiopathic convulsions, nervous erethism, and in the debility following severe acute affections. As it is a valuable restorative agent, checking tissue-waste, it is a useful remedy in consumption and wasting diseases generally. It is also of value in the nervous forms of sick headache, viigraine. It is said to be an aphrodisiac.

Now, my object in publishing this article is to introduce coca-leaf cigars to the notice of the profession. I have furnished what information I have to prove the cigars are capable of producing the action of the drug. In my own mind I have no doubts on the subject, though

1 the effects are milder than those resulting from the employment of the fluid preparations of coca internally. I have also summed up the properties said to be possessed by coca as a therapeutic agent. I have produced evidence, in addition to that furnished by Dr. Lewis, that it is of value in the treatment of hay fever; and, as it is important that the true value of this form of using coca-leaf should be known, I have had some made, and I will send samples to members of the profession, free of charge, who may desire to test them, and will publish the results, favorable or otherwise, in the medical press. I have no proprietary interest in them, nor have I copyrighted this article concerning them. The idea of coca in this form, and all information concerning it, is free to the use of the profession.—{Phila. Medical Times, Sept. 19th,


No comments: