The Coca Museum is a museum located in the city of La Paz. This museum sheds light on the huge significance of the treasured national commodity of coca leaves. Wherever you visit in Bolivia, it is highly common to see Bolivians chewing on a bulge in their cheek; these bulges are wads of coca leaves. Historically, coca leaves have helped Bolivians cope with the high altitude and hard physical livelihoods making these dried leaves integral to daily life. The leaves of the coca plant have been chewed by the Adean cultures for thousands of years.
The plant itself was considered sacred and many human sacrifices had their mouths stuffed with leaves before they died. The museum also has a very well preserved human sacrifice that was found with coca. Coca was also used medicinally. It is a stimulant and as such will abate hunger and thirst. The tea is used to help overcome altitude sickness. If chewed it will cause numbness in the mouth and was used as an anesthetic. It is also said to help digestion. This museum covers every aspect of the use of coca leaves, both positive and negative, and is a must see if a visitor is to understand the Bolivian psyche.
The Coca Museum in La Paz is a tiny little space absolutely jam-packed with information about the humble coca leaf its history, its uses, its nutritional value, the cultural stuff that surrounds it and the comparatively recent abuse it has received at the hands of the colonial folks who wandered over to Latin America, realized its value and promptly started to exploit it. It is quite a factual and interesting museum, there are a lot of facts and figures about coca, and its uses and properties when chewed, drunk, inhaled or injected.