History of Cocaine's Use as Anaesthetic

"One of the main properties of the coca leaf, which has been and continues to be used industrially, is its medical potential as an anaesthetic and analgesic. This characteristic of cocaine, which was part of ancestral practices and knowledge in the Andean-Amazon region, came to light in the 1880s and led to a revolution in medical science, particularly in surgery. As a local anaesthetic, it offered an alternative for operations that had previously been painful and hazardous. These properties were used to ease childbirth pains and dental treatments, among other things, taking the coca leaf and cocaine rapidly to the pinnacle of pharmacology and medicine.
"In 1923, Richard Willstatter of the University of Munich synthesised the cocaine molecule for the first time, basing his work on the molecule found in the coca leaf and maintaining its anaesthetic and energizing effects, which later found a series of applications. Unlike natural cocaine isolated from the coca leaf, the synthetic version lacks vaso-constrictive properties. This was useful for some applications, but not for others. A long list of pharmaceuticals (benzocaine, novocaine/procaine, lidocaine, etc.) was soon included in the anaesthetist’s vade mecum."


"Coca yes, cocaine, no? Legal options for the coca leaf," Transnational Institute (Amsterdam, The Netherlands: May 2006), p. 16.