Archive for noviembre 14th, 2012

Views 14 Nov Coca Leaves: the green gold of the Andes
 |  Category: Culture and Curiosities  | 8 Comments

Within the Andean vision of the cosmos, nature represents a profound expression of the great Divinity. This has manifested itself in the cult of the Andean people in their relationship with the land, the mountains, certain animals and plants, attributing them sacred meanings and establishing a particular form of communication through complex rituals that persist to this day.

Among the native plants considered sacred to the people of ancient Tawantisuyo (the Inca Empire), we find the Wachuma or San Pedro cactus, the Amazonian Ayahuasca and Coca leaf, all of which embody a means of communication with the gods of nature and source of self-exploration and direction for the Andean man’s spiritual journey.

Coca Leaves: the green gold of the Andes

Of these three sacred plants, the most widely used in the Andean society has been the Coca leaf. Because of its energetic properties and stimulants to the central nervous system, the leaves were already used some 5000 years ago to tolerate strenuous physical labor. While the ancient man did not exactly know its nutritional qualities, they did realize that the chewing of Coca leaves sated the appetite and, therefore, it became the basis of Andean nutrition especially in times of food shortage. Now we know that the plant is extremely rich in calcium, vitamins and minerals. Similarly, the Andean man gradually discovered the medicinal properties of the plant, being used to relieve sore muscles, to regenerate bone tissue, to withstand altitude sickness known locally as soroche and during the Inca period even to treat brain tumors by using its oil. 

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