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Cocaine

 

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History


The leaves of the Coca shrub have been consumed for several hundred years in South America. The leaves are most often usually chewed or seeped into tea and they produce desirable effects including decreased hunger, general contentedness, and increased endurance. People indigenous to the Andes Mountain region, where coca plants grow most easily, found these effects especially helpful for maintaining physical performance at high altitudes and cold temperatures. When ingested, the potency of coca is much less than cocaine, as individual leaves contain about one percent cocaine. Traditionally, the coca plant also served medicinal purposes since the leaves produce a topical antiseptic. The consumption of leaves does not produce the negative physical and psychological effects associated with artificially purified Coca shrub, or cocaine.

It was not until 1860 that the purified version of coca, cocaine, was created by scientists interested in the properties of the coca plant. In the United States during the late 1800's and early 1900's it became a popular treatment for a variety of maladies, most notably hay fever and asthma, because of its capability of shrinking mucous membranes. As the medical community became aware of its addictive properties, it was no longer allowed as an over the counter treatment.

The 1980's marked the advent of two new types of cocaine, crack and free-base. Instead of being snorted into the nasal passages like cocaine, these are smoked after a necessary step of heating has occurred. For crack, the distributor heats the cocaine, while free-base requires that the consumer perform the heating themselves before smoking.

References


Cocaine - wikipedia 

Breedlove, S. Marc, et al. Biological Psychology. Massachusetts: Sinauer Associates, Inc., 2007.

 

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