Cocaine: Leaves of the coca plant (Erythroxylum coca) have been used as a stimulant in South America for thousands of years. The drug derived from coca, cocaine — popularly known as coke, blow or Bolivian marching powder — has been credited with a range of health benefits.why cocaine is considered special.
Cocaine can be used as a topical anesthetic for surgical procedures due to its rapid-acting numbing properties. When combined with other compounds into a preparation called TAC, cocaine can also treat minor skin lacerations, since the drug is an effective vasoconstrictor (narrows blood vessels).why cocaine is considered special.
Dr. Andrew Weil, founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, has studied coca’s gastrointestinal effects among South American communities. “If you look carefully at the coca leaf’s molecular array, you find 14 bioactive alkaloids … while cocaine acts as a gut stimulant, other coca alkaloids can have precisely the opposite action. They inhibit gut activity,” Weil wrote in the Huffington Post.
Topical cocaine can be used as a local numbing agent to help with painful procedures in the mouth or nose.
Cocaine is now predominantly used for nasal and lacrimal duct surgery. The major disadvantages of this use are cocaine’s potential for cardiovascular toxicity, glaucoma, and pupil dilation. Medicinal use of cocaine has decreased as other synthetic local anesthetics such as benzocaine, proparacaine, lidocaine, and tetracaine are now used more often. If vasoconstriction is desired for a procedure (as it reduces bleeding), the anesthetic is combined with a vasoconstrictor such as phenylephrine or epinephrine. Some ENT specialists occasionally use cocaine within the practice when performing procedures such as nasal cauterization. In this scenario dissolved cocaine is soaked into a ball of cotton wool, which is placed in the nostril for the 10–15 minutes immediately before the procedure, thus performing the dual role of both numbing the area to be cauterized, and vasoconstriction. Even when used this way, some of the used cocaine may be absorbed through oral or nasal mucosa and give systemic effects. An alternative method of administration for ENT surgery is mixed with adrenaline and sodium bicarbonate, as Moffett’s solution.