Question: Can consuming coca leaves cause cardiovascular disease? I use it to control asthma attacks, however I notice it makes my heart beat faster. Pablo (Peru).
Answer: There is some controversy about the potential risks of coca leaf use among the scientific community, as well as its therapeutic effects. Although traditionally it has been used as an energizer, to reduce appetite, and to prevent altitude sickness, the coca leaf has been found to contain 18 alkaloids, one of them cocaine, so its use at certain doses can produce effects similar to those caused by cocaine at the cardiovascular level (such as the increased heart rate you refer). In any case, and in the absence of scientific evidence on the risk/benefit of its consumption, we recommend caution in its use, especially when you notice that it produces tachycardia.