There seems to be a buzz around ceremonial cacao these days. But what is it all about? I finished an argument with the well known Lindt chocolate company with my last email saying let us 'agree to disagree'. They have released a 99% cocoa/cacao bar. If you look at the ingredients there is no Cacao. Their argument is that it is for their French market. My argument is that it contains no cacao… and yet it is chocolate. So what is the difference and what is my point?
Cacao used to be a form of currency, an expensive gift and trade item. Priests used it to gain enlightenment and many now use it to help with meditation. It is a gentle, loving and soft “medicine” yes, that right, it has medicinal benefits! Thought to work on the heart chakra (energy centre) and aid in opening it up and connecting with yourself and others on a deeper level.
There are numerous health benefits of Cacao. It contains magnesium that is responsible for muscle relaxation and potentially aids a good night sleep. It also contains iron, and four times the amount of antioxidants found in blueberries.
These blue splats have a good reputation but Cacao is even more powerful. Cacao contains Theobroma, which translates as the “food of the gods” and opens spiritual awareness. It contains bromocriptine and some caffeine, but thought to be a tenth of what is found in coffee. This could explain why in larger doses, there is a buzz and difficulty with sleeping, which is why I prefer to drink mine in the mornings, or have smaller doses in the evenings.
The first step of processing Cacao, the purest form of the cocoa bean with the “dutch method” removes 60 to 90% of the antioxidants. For those that care, this is a bad thing, as the antioxidants or flavonoids include catechin, epicatechin and proanthocyanidins. Epicatechins can reduce platelet aggregation so may reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke. It’s like a mini natural Asprin. A population study of Kuna Indians showed that those that drank large volumes of natural Cocoa beverages, showed lower blood pressure, better renal or kidney function, lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to a control group. Cacao also reduced insulin resistance reducing risk of developing diabetes type 2.
Hippocrates said let food be your medicine. I think he was talking generally, but the benefits of this one food from the cacao tree are pretty amazing and taste good too. Add some sugar, some dairy, some rubbish, more packaging, more refinement and you have essentially lost the magic. Cadbury’s said in the 80’s on an Australian advertisement that a glass and a half of full cream dairy milk goes into every 200g block of chocolate. This was seen as a good thing as the dairy farmers were working with government to push and influence the health benefits of milk. Milk is a lot cheaper than any other ingredient, so they would have put more in if they could, only restricted by the bars potential to disintegrate. Studies have actually shown that combining with dairy reduces the body’s ability to absorb the antioxidants and therefore drinking cacao with dairy milk is not advised, but it works well with nut milks.
Anandamide, noting Anada is the sanskrit word for joy and bliss, is in Cacao and Tryptophan, is the precursor to your feel good hormone, serotonin. Tryptophan needs magnesium and as nature intended all this is in the one place. Cacao helps with irritability and stress which is why people crave it premensturally. Be aware that if you have a dirty diet, it could be the sugar and milk you crave too. You might not be used to the bitterness of cacao. I prepare it with rice milk or hazelnut milk from 'Rude Health'. It is quite a naturally acidic food, coming from a fruit tree. The more fermented it is, the more bitter the taste I used to get mine from Peru, but now I prefer the taste, energy and effects of Cacao from Venezuela and Ecuador. Remember to not over heat the Cacao as it does destroy the antioxidants. I have seen videos of people advertising piping hot Cacao on Instagram, I question the amount of antioxidants still left in the drink.
Cacao reduces inflammation which sets the body up for all kinds of diseases. In petri dishes, components of Cacao have been shown to reduce breast cancer cell growth! And…. antiaging! And…. can reduce your appetite…. But.. that might be owing to the fact that a full ceremonial dose does have a fair few calories. In conclusion, given all the health benefits, it’s worth incorporating this food regularly into your diet.
Why can’t I just buy a block of chocolate? Please see above. Moreover, why can’t I buy the organic Cacao from Ocado and get benefits? The short version is you can and it will be good for you. The difference is that when you create a “ceremony”, you should get a full ceremonial dose, which is a lot more than a block of chocolate, (60-70g) plus all the extra benefits of relaxation and mindfulness. I have only ever been to one ceremony in London where the full amount was provided, and I'm aware of other people outside of London giving only half doses. Ceremonial grade Cacao is blessed, unprocessed, and then before it reaches your lips, it is (or at least it should be) prepared in a sacred way. I play the frequency of the heart chakra into it whilst praying and setting intention for an upcoming event.
Traditionally Cacao was prepared by Mayans with water, and a bit of chilli powder. I add other beneficial ingredients such as blue lotus for dreams, or food grade edible essential oils. (Please note that most essential oils are not food grade and may be harmful). 'Doterra' is one of the few readily available sources of food grade oil(s) with energetic benefits.
One of my favorite blends is orange oil and lavender combined.
In 2020, the world health organization listed depression and anxiety as the most debilitating illnesses. The most profound thing about this statement is that it was realised before the events of 2020 occurred! As far as I am concerned, everyone should be doing and enjoying self work and discovery.
Cacao in combination with intention, sound and maybe some oils is a wonderful step towards your improved wellness.
Remember a candle loses nothing by lighting another, so share the love and ask me any questions. I do group, private Cacao ceremonies plus sell Cacao in bulk and modest quantities for you to prepare yourself.