Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Crack is Whack, but could Red Bull really give you wings?

Giant pandas, just like humans need water to survive. Bamboo, which consists of 50-90% water, provides the majority of the water needed in their diet…but why not throw some Red Bull Cola into the mix?

Red Bull claims that it gives you wings, but it’s new cola contains a new promise…a kick of some cocaine! Introduced in March 2008, Red Bull Cola is a unique blend of all natural ingredients, and according to Red Bull, “ It is the only cola which contains both the original Kola nut and the Coca leaf. Therefore, it is a very special recipe. The result is a natural, not-too-sweet cola taste, which comes from using the right plant extracts.” These plant extracts range from mustard seed, orange and corn mint to coca leaf. [1]

Research institutions have tested and found traces of cocaine in cans of Red Bull Cola, each of which contains nearly 0.013 micrograms of cocaine. But don’t get too excited…you’d have to drink about 12,000 L of Red Bull Cola before you feel any of the negative and euphoric effects of the cocaine alkaloid. [3] (Haha, and I use to think that 2 liters of cola was a lot!)

Coca leaves are not new to society, around the world de-cocainized extract from the coca leaf is used as a natural flavoring. When used outside the Andean region, the cocaine alkaloid (0.8% of the plant’s chemical makeup) is required to be removed by international antinarcotics agencies and coca was officially put on the United Nations list of narcotics in 1961.

The use of coca leaves began thousands of years ago, high in the Andes mountains, by elite members of Incan society. Today the chewing of coca leaves is as common and important to many Andean cultures as coffee is in the United States. It is often used in religious ceremonies and was revered by the Incas as having divine origin.

While crack is whack, coca leaves have a variety of medicinal uses, including causing numbness of the mouth, it can suppress hunger, thirst, pain and fatigue, is an anesthetic that can prevent headaches, arthritis, and is very effective against altitude sickness. As well as being used for treating bleeding, malaria, ulcers and asthma. [2] The use of coca leaves in consumer products is also not new, they are used in chocolate and when Coca-Cola was originally introduced in 1885, an original ingredient was cocaine. Now however, Coca-Cola claims to use ingredients that have removed the cocaine alkaloid.

The use of the coca leaf in colas and various products isn’t a new concept. Last summer, I was backpacking through Peru and everywhere we went there were bags of coca leaves for sale and natives with wads of coca leaves stuffed in their cheeks, much like baseball players with chew…and in case you were wondering, it takes about 13 chemical reactions to extract, purify and create cocaine from coca leaves… (In Peru there were tshirts everywhere saying “Hoja de coca, no es una droga” TRANSLATION: The coca leaf is not a drug!)

The moral of my story is that crack is still whack, so instead pick up a Red Bull Cola and just maybe, it’ll give you wings!

[1] http://www.redbullusa.com/cs/Satellite/en_US/Products/Red-Bull-Cola-021242757033928?p=1242746208542#/product-WHY-A-COLA-FROM-RED-BULL

[2] ^Weil AT., "The therapeutic value of coca in contemporary medicine," J Ethnopharmacol. 1981 Mar-May;3(2-3):367-76.

[3] http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1900849,00.html


  1. I guess this means it's time to battle for the legalization of cocaine. Why stop at marijuana when both have medicinal uses?
    Just kidding - this was a really interesting article.

  2. I wonder if there is any sort of government response about the presence of cocaine in Red Bull... even though it is in such miniscule amounts.

  3. I don't think the government will think anything of it since there have been test on the amount of cocaine on money. Some people in my quantitative analysis class did test last semester and I believe that all the money they tested had cocaine on it. I personally don't believe that they care since money is government property.

  4. The government isn't really concerned with this, here in the USA, because it is such a tiny amount. However, in some of the articles I read, the German government was having a very intense debate over this.
    But seriously, whose going to drink 12,000L of Red Bull Cola in a sitting anyways?