This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics: An Introduction to the National Treatment of Disease", by John Mitchell Bruce. Also available from Amazon: The pharmacology and therapeutics of the materia medica.
Coca. (Not Officinal) - The leaves of Erythroxy-lon Coca. From South America.
Characters. - Leaves two inches long, petiolate, oval, entire, pointed at the blunt apex, with a slight odour of tea, and a bitter aromatic taste.
Composition. - Coca leaves contain a yellowish-white crys-talline bitter alkaloid, cocain, C17H11NO4, which is converted by heat into a second alkaloid, ecgonin, C9Hl6NO3, benzoic acid, and methylic alcohol.
Dose. - 1/2 to 4 dr. of the leaves; 1/8 to 1 gr. of coca'in.
Coca is believed to possess stimulant, restorative, or even nutritive properties, enabling persons who chew the leaf to undergo great muscular exertion with little or no fatigue. In animals the alkaloid causes great muscular restlessness or excitement, and finally convulsions; the whole brain, medulla, and cord being powerfully stimulated. The pupils are dilated; respiration rises in frequency, is disturbed in rhythm, and finally ceases. The heart is greatly accelerated by paralysis of the vagus; the blood pressure first rises and then falls. The muscles themselves remain unaffected. The amount of urea is said to be diminished, as if from diminished metabolism; but coca does not prolong the life of starved animals.
This drug has been used to prevent muscular exhaustion; in wasting attended with increased formation of urea (azo-turia); in convalescence; in mental exhaustion; and in the opium habit. It has somewhat disappointed expectation.