A wonderful power of resisting mental or bodily weariness is imparted to the person who chews the leaves of the coca shrub, that grows wild in the Andean valleys of Bolivia and Peru. The dried leaves, mixed with quicklime, are chewed by all the natives of the region, and quantities are ex ported, for it is from these leaves that the drug, cocaine, is extracted. This is used in dentistry, to produce insensibility to pain over a small area, and for a short time. The habit of chewing coca leaves is an ancient one. The Indians cannot get on without this stimulating drug. The habit of taking cocaine is a recent one among civilized people, and though the results are soothing, the intoxication being somewhat like that induced by opium, the habit is dangerous in the extreme.
Slaves to the Coca or cocaine habit are short-lived.
Do not confuse the shrub coca, with the useful coconut, a palm, nor the cacao tree, from whose seeds cocoa and chocolate are made.
The Cola, or Kola, is a tropical African tree, whose fleshy nuts, like horse-chestnuts, have much the same effect on the nerves as the leaves of the coca. The two are combined in a summer beverage that physicians condemn, knowing the two drugs it contains, and the billboards extol as harmless and delightful.