Not to serve at high tea

2012-07-19 00:00

TEA obtained from the leaves of the coca plant and found among the herbal teas in supermarkets and pharmacies may cause tea lovers to fail their dope tests.

Pretoria University toxicologists have investigated this in clinical tests with Coca Tea, a product marketed from a website as a “divine and magic plant of the Incas”.

Just one cup of this tea can cause enough degradation products of cocaine to end up in a tea drinker’s urine for a drug test to be “misled” into “thinking” that the person has taken drugs.

Adriaan Marais of the university’s forensic toxicology laboratory used a number of volunteers in an experiment to see how much tea is needed to trick a dope test and how a tea drinker’s innocence can proved.

Drug tests usually look for the degradation product benzoylecgonine in a cocaine user’s urine. The cut-off point is 150 ng/ml.

After just one cup of Coca Tea the participants had benzoylecgonine levels of more than 2 000 ng/ml in their urine.

Sister newspaper Beeld also bought a less sensitive dope test in a pharmacy, with a cut-off point of 300 ng/ml.

This week a volunteer at Beeld took the pharmacy test exactly an hour after drinking one cup of Coca Tea and also tested positive for cocaine.

What do South Africans use it for?

On the packet it is claimed that it revitalises, restores and energises, controls emotions, helps with diet, overcomes fatigue, assists digestion, regulates metabolism and helps counter mountain sickness.

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