[Effects of coca chewing on the glucose tolerance test]

Medicina (B Aires). 1997;57(3):261-4.
[Article in Spanish]


The effects of coca chewing on the glucose tolerance test were measured. The subjects were 14 habitual coca chewers and 14 non-chewers. All were of Aymara ancestry and came from a rural community from the "Altiplano" close to the city of La Paz. The coca users chewed coca leaves during 3 1/2 hours of the test. The non-chewers showed a significant hypoglycemia at 120 minutes of the test. This effect was not observed in the coca chewers. The hormonal counter-regulation response to hypoglycemia worked perfectly in non-chewers, since glucose levels reached normal values at 180 minutes of the test. These results suggest that coca chewers, at high altitude do not present hypoglycemia, due to an antagonic action of coca metabolites on insulin; allowing a greater availability of glucose in the organism. This would have a positive effect on metabolism in an environment of hypobaric hypoxia, known to lead to situations of hypoglycemia.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bolivia
  • Cocaine / pharmacology*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mastication*
  • Middle Aged
  • Substance-Related Disorders


  • Cocaine