The leaves of Erythroxylon coca.—South America.
Preparation.—Tincture of Coca.
Dose.—From five drops to half a drachm.
Therapeutic Action.—In Columbia the natives use it to enable them to endure prolonged exertion without taking food. It seems to serve a similar purpose to coffee and tea, though it is claimed that it lessens the waste of tissue, enabling the person to endure great fatigue.
For some time I have been using this remedy in a class of cases where there was defective innervation, some dyspepsia (imperfect digestion, though the appetite was good), pain in the occiput and neck, with dizziness and inability to stand for any length of time.
In three of these cases where the most marked benefit was experienced, the disease had been diagnosed "dumb ague," and treated with quinine to the extent of lessening (stopping in one case) the afternoon feverishness, but leaving the unpleasant symptoms named above.
In one case the patient had been a sufferer from rheumatism for a year or more, had ovarian irritation with scanty menstruation, functional heart disease, and inability to digest the ordinary food used by the family. Anti-rheumatics had removed the pains, the heart-beat had come down from 110 to 70, and the irregularity of pulse had disappeared. She had gained flesh, but had no strength, and was nervous and despondent. The food was changed to a very plain diet in moderation, and the Coca given in fifteen drop doses every four hours, with the most marked benefit.
A business man had suffered from overwork, some worry, good living, and want of exercise, and now finds himself with some dyspeptic symptoms, pain in the occiput, and dizziness. A spare diet was recommended, all stimulante to be avoided, open-air exercise to be taken, and ten drop of Coca every three hours. He improved steadily, and was himself again in the course of a month. Was it the Coca, or was it the diet, avoidance of stimulants, and the open-air exercise? The reader may answer these questions for himself. I think both had something to do with the cure, but I am sure that without the diet and exercise he could not have recovered. I do not think it well to make a hobby of Erythroxylon Coca, or of any other remedy, but it may be remembered as a very good nerve stimulant in the cases I have named.
The American Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics, 1898, was written by John M. Scudder, M.D.