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What is Coca? How and Why You Should Try It

There is an ongoing debate among travelers whether you can or should take coca home with you.... Yeah, that coca. Coca leaf products are plentiful in Peru and other Andean countries and it isn't addictive when consumed in its natural form. You can chew the leaves, drink coca tea, and enjoy coca-leaf candies without creating any form of dependence on it.

Coca leaves have been cultivated in parts of the Andes Mountains for thousands of years. During the Inca reign, coca was viewed as having a divine origin and as such couldn’t be consumed by all classes of society. However, today it's popular with many Peruvians (as it is with other Andean people). It's used in religious ceremonies and coca is consumed as a mild stimulant, known for its healing properties. It suppresses pain, fatigue, hunger, and can help weary travelers overcome altitude sickness.

If you want to learn more about the coca leaf, check out the Coca Museum in Cusco (in the San Blas District). Here's what we learned.

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