Coca tea, also known as mate de coca, is a type of herbal tea that is made using the dry, raw leaves of the coca plant soaked in hot water so that the phytonutrients are extracted from the leaf. The coca plant is native to South America, particularly the Andes mountain range. The potential benefits of coca tea may include weight loss and energy production, and it has been used to boost immunity and to ease indigestion and altitude sickness.
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Coca tea contains alkaloids that may help promote weight loss. Certain alkaloids, such as the ones found in coca plants, may increase lipolysis, or the mobilization and breakdown of fatty acids for energy in your body, according to Louise Tenney, author of "Today's Herbal Health." Mobilizing fat stores from adipose tissue, or fat cells, to your muscles for energy boosts your metabolism and preserves muscle glycogen, increasing your body's natural fat-burning capability. When consumed on a regular basis, coca tea may promote the reduction of body fat with few side effects.
The leaves of the coca plant contain compounds that provide a stimulatory effect on your body, similar to caffeine, that can boost energy and mental focus, notes Tenney. Coca tea contains a compound called inulin, a type of naturally occurring polysaccharide produced in some plants that provides a stimulatory effect. The stimulatory effect of coca tea is similar to coffee, but it works through different cellular mechanisms due to the lack of caffeine in the leaves of the coca plant.
Coca tea contains high concentrations of vitamins that may have antioxidant properties. Vitamins A, B-2, B-6, C and E are all present in coca leaves, which may all help to boost the function of your immune system, increasing your body's ability to destroy potentially toxic compounds in your bloodstream. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the antioxidant properties of vitamins C and E may help reduce the risk of developing several types of cardiovascular disease.
Digestion and Altitude Sickness
According to "The New Encyclopedia of Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements, and Herbs," coca tea has been used in South America for centuries to reduce gastrointestinal distress associated with indigestion and altitude sickness. Drinking coca tea and chewing on coca leaves may alleviate symptoms of altitude sickness, including nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea and vomiting. This effect may be due to the presence of various alkaloids as well as several B vitamins, which may help improve blood flow and oxygen uptake at high altitudes.
- Today's Herbal Health: The Essential Reference Guide; Louise Tenney; 2007
- The New Encyclopedia of Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements, and Herbs; Nicola Reavley; 1999
- AHRQ.gov; Effect of Supplemental Antioxidants Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Coenzyme Q10 for the Prevention and Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease; P. Shekelle et al.; 2003