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Certain plants contribute health benefits with proper use. Chewing of the coca plant has many health benefits.

"The name coca (Erythroxylum coca) comes from an Aymara word meaning simply "tree." In Andean cultures, the leaves of the coca tree have been primarily chewed to obtain the benefits. From ancient times, indigenous people have added an alkaline such as crushed seashells or burnt plant ashes to the leaves in order to activate the pharmacologically part of coca. Literally dozens of different plant species have been utilized by different groups; the coqueros (coca users) were wise not only in how to use the plants, but in how to combine them in order to facilitate the release of active principles.

Coca is used as a folk medicine for ailments as diverse as toothache and altitude sickness. Coca has been and continues to be of importance not only for social and medicinal purposes, but the coca leaves themselves also show significant amounts of nutrients, including more iron and calcium than many of the food crops grown in the Andes. There is the belief among some Peruvian scientists that the low incidence of osteoporosis among Andean Indians is due in part to the high level of calcium in the leaves.

More research into the health benefits of coca could increase demand for the plant, which translates into increased revenue for coca farmers."

Source: http://www.accessexcellence.org/RC/Ethnobotany/page4.php