Cacao: Chocolate That Makes You Trip

Karla Njathi (aka Love)
5 min readFeb 17, 2021

A pure form of chocolate that builds resilience to stress and cultivates joy

Unpasteurized Chocolate (Cacao) from Guatemala

What is Cacao?

Cacao is unpasteurized chocolate!

The name is short for the scientific name of the tree that produces chocolate beans, Theobroma Cacao.

The powdered form is more commonly known as “cocoa”, but this refers to the processed form of chocolate that’s devoid of nutritional value. Cacao is crafted by sorting and peeling the beans, fermenting them, then lightly roasting them over a wood stove.

Next, the beans are milled into a paste to create a brick of chocolate that’s easier to turn into a drink or truffle.

It’s prayed over and lovingly blessed at every step of the process.
This is a hallmark of what’s considered ceremonial-grade Cacao.

This is part of what activates the “heart-opening” aspects of this special chocolate.

“What Makes Cacao Trippy?”

This pure form of chocolate has a complex set of compounds that create a gently euphoria that allows you to be in full control of your mind and body.

(Sound like an oxymoron? I know.)

Cacao’s serotonin-producing qualities set it apart from regular chocolate.

The gentle euphoria that people report from ingesting Cacao are primarily influenced by two compounds: Anandamide (a cannabinoid known as the “bliss chemical”) and PEA (Phenylethylamine), which is known as the “love chemical”.

These help your brain produce serotonin and allow it to circulate in your body for a longer amount of time.

This creates a wave of pleasure throughout the body and elevates your mood.

“Serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter, a type of chemical that helps relay signals from one area of the brain to another. Although serotonin is manufactured in the brain…90% of our serotonin supply is found in the digestive tract and in blood platelets….”

“…Of the approximately 40 million brain cells, most are influenced either directly or indirectly by serotonin. This includes brain cells related to mood, sexual desire and function, appetite, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation, and some social behavior.”

-WebMD.com

In other words, the pleasurable serotonin boost from Cacao helps your body function on many levels.

You may be familiar with that happy feeling your favorite chocolate bar evokes. The smell, the bittersweet taste…the sugar rush.

If you’re a woman, you may crave it during your menstrual cycle (which could be linked to the high number of endocannabinoid receptors in your uterus).

In chocolate bars, what we often associate with a chocolate buzz is mostly a Cacao-scented sugar and caffeine high.

Cacao, on the other hand, has no additives.

Another effect of Cacao is right in the scientific name, “Theobroma”.

Cacao contains Theobromine, which is found in small amounts of coffee.

Theobromine is a cardiovascular stimulant, which doesn’t necessarily translate into higher blood pressure since Cacao also contains polyphenols that help dilate the blood vessels.

Chocolate has an interesting set of properties that both stimulate your body and calm your mind at the same time.

The froth on this cup of Cacao comes from the naturally-occurring plant fats in pure chocolate. These fats are usually separated and replaced with milk or soy products when making candy.

The Difference Between Cacao and Candy

The biggest difference between the in-tact, unprocessed Cacao and chocolate in the form of candy is a process called tempering.

Tempering involves heating and cooling a substance repeatedly while folding or stirring it.

This creates the shiny, even consistency of candy, and is similar to the process of folding steel to create a sword.

However, many of the health properties are scorched and lost in this process. And often, the natural cacao butter is removed and replaced with dairy.

The irony is that lactose prevents the absorption of the compound serotonin, “the bliss chemical” mentioned above.

This is why even chocolate bars made from higher-quality beans and added cacao butter are still largely devoid of the Cacao’s original health properties. Those bars still went through a processes of repeated heating and cooling for the desired shiny look and brittle consistency.

What about Cocoa Powder?

Ceremonial-grade Cacao is in tact, meaning its natural cacao butter (plant-based fat) hasn’t been removed.

Your body needs the Cacao Butter in order to uptake the theobromine and produce serotonin.

Powdered Cocoa is devoid of the natural fat. It’s also heated at high temperatures, put through a hydraulic press to remove the waxy cacao fat, and is processed into a shelf-stable product.

What’s very troubling is that Cacao Powder labeled as “raw” is misleading. The raw label only denotes that the Cacao was not heated to the boiling point of water, 212 degrees.

So, even at 210 degrees, a company may still legally label that product as raw, though all beneficial properties have been scorched. And even the bit of theobromine that remains cannot be accessed by the body. The result is nothing more than chocolate-flavored powder. Natural, but devoid of the properties that real chocolate has to offer.

So, why create a powder if it kills everything that makes chocolate healthy?

Simply put, in the modern world we’re conditioned to want products of uniform consistency and appearance.

Ceremonial-grade Cacao has a long shelf life, but in it’s unprocessed form, the Cacao Butter slowly begins to separate from the rest of the chocolate.

This is why even chocolate bars made from higher-quality beans are still largely devoid of the Cacao’s original health properties. Those bars still went through a processes of repeated heating and cooling.

Contraindications

Those on SSRI-based antidepressants or who have extremely low blood pressure can experience headaches or light-headedness when drinking Cacao. Expecting and breast-feeding mothers generally do not have adverse effects with Cacao.

Interested in the spiritual + energetic properties of Cacao? Learn more here.

If you’d like to purchase some of this ceremonial chocolate, click here.

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