|This ad comes from "Practical Druggist," volume 22, number 2, August 1907.|
And in 1653 the priest Bernabe Cobo wrote:
There is every reason to believe that the habit of chewing coca leaves together with lime rapidly became a habit not only among the Indians, but also among their Spanish masters. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, travelers from outside Spain, such as the German biologist Alexander von Humboldt, also began to send back reports about the remarkable properties of coca, particularly about how it allowed Indian workers to allay fatigue and hunger. For example, a report in the Gentleman’s magazine in London in 1817 observed:
As we have seen, the early part of the nineteenth century was a time of great excitement and achievement in the organic chemistry of natural products. Alkaloids like morphine and caffeine were being isolated at a rapid rate, and it was natural for people to turn their attention to coca. Some progress was initially made demonstrating that the active principle of coca could be extracted into organic solvents. However, coca leaves were indifferent travelers, much worse even than tea, and getting large quantities of fresh leaves to Europe for analysis proved problematic. Nevertheless, in 1859 a German scientist named Carl Scherzer managed to import a large quantity of good quality coca leaves into Germany and gave them to Friedrich Wohler, a chemistry professor at the University of Gottingen. The professor then passed the leaves on to his graduate student Albert Niemann as an appropriate topic of investigation for his doctoral thesis. Niemann duly obliged, and isolated pure cocaine as a white crystalline substance that produced numbness when he placed it on his tongue. Unfortunately, Niemann also discovered mustard gas and died, probably from contact with this substance, the very next year. His colleague Wilhelm Lossen elucidated the chemical formula of cocaine in 1865, and the chemical structure was obtained by Richard Willstatter in 1898.