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Benefits of coca leaf for altitude sickness

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Home » Blog » Benefits of coca leaf for altitude sickness

The coca leaf is a natural remedy used to combat altitude sickness, commonly known as "soroche". The benefits of the coca leaf include its nutrients and alkaloids that aid in the oxygenation of the blood, alleviating symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and fatigue.

The way to consume it is by chewing the leaves or drinking it as an infusion (coca tea), which will help mitigate the adverse effects of high altitude, and not only that, it also strengthens the immune system and generates energy, being a common practice in the Andean regions of Peru and Bolivia.

What is altitude sickness?

Altitude sickness, also known as "soroche", is caused by a lack of oxygen, which becomes noticeable above 2,500 meters. At this height, atmospheric pressure decreases and the body receives less oxygen, which can cause various uncomfortable symptoms and, in some cases, can become complicated leading to pulmonary or cerebral edema.

How can I tell if I have altitude sickness?

It's easy to recognize, as altitude sickness presents with various symptoms, the most common being headaches, accompanied by dizziness, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, insomnia, fatigue, and weakness, depending on our immune system. In some cases, it has been observed that there may be mental confusion, lack of coordination, and difficulty breathing.

Symptoms of altitude sickness

The symptoms you may experience are:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue and weakness

In severe cases:

  • Mental confusion
  • Poor coordination
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Spitting blood

The coca leaf as a remedy for altitude sickness

The coca leaf is commonly used in the Andean regions as a natural remedy for altitude sickness. It can be consumed in various ways, such as chewing the leaves directly or preparing them in infusions (coca tea). This traditional use helps improve blood oxygenation and alleviate the symptoms of altitude sickness thanks to its alkaloids and essential nutrients.

Main properties of the coca leaf

Benefits of the Coca Leaf

The coca leaf has several health benefits:

  • Improves blood oxygenation.
  • Relieves symptoms of altitude sickness.
  • Acts as a digestive aid.
  • Strengthens the immune system.
  • Has energizing effects similar to caffeine.

How to consume the coca leaf for altitude sickness

The coca leaf can be consumed in various ways to combat altitude sickness:

  1. Chewing the leaves or chacchar: This traditional method is effective for quick absorption of its alkaloids. Generally, the leaves are chewed and held in the mouth, only the extracted juice is swallowed and the residue is spit out.
  2. Infusion (coca tea): Soaking the leaves in hot water and drinking the infusion helps alleviate symptoms.
  3. Candies and other products: They can also be consumed in more modern forms, such as candies or tea bags, and even cookies, which are easy to carry and consume.
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