“The cocoa bean is a phenomenon, for nowhere else has nature concentrated such a wealth of valuable nourishment in such a small space.” — Alexander von Humboldt, German scientist
- Cacao is the most complex food on Earth.
- It contains a number of ingredients that have a positive effect on the mind and body.
- Raw Cacao is nature’s most magical superfood due to its mineral content and nutrients, formed of some 600-1200 individual chemical components.
- Like all superfoods, cacao blurs the line between food and medicine.
Cacao first appeared for its use around 2000 – 1500 B.C. in Central America.
The Aztecs and Mayans cherished the bean and pulp that could be made into food or drink.
Cacao was so highly valued that they used it as currency.
It was not just a food or beverage but a pillar to their economies, religions, rituals, ceremonies such as weddings, births, deaths and sacrifices.
Cacao has a long shelf life which made it more popular. They could store it and use it as a currency for 3 years and at the end eat or drink it.
Hernan Cortes seized Mexico in 1519 which started the globalisation and new era for the Cacao bean. Cortes wrote about cacao: “The divine drink which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink permits a full day without food.”
As it was distributed around the world Europeans added sugar and the locals preferred it bitter.
In 1815 Van Houten, a now popular drinking chocolate brand, found a way to de-fat the cacao by roughly half and alkalise it, called “dutching”. Ever heard of dutch chocolate? This started the large scale of chocolate produced known as “cheap chocolate.”
Nestle, the massive corporation, found a way to pulverise milk in 1867 and succeeded in making the first milk chocolate in 1879.
This marked the end of the protected “SACRED MEDICINE” value of cacao. Including a loss of health, spiritual and ceremonial purposes of this treasurable beverage.
However, since around 2000 – 2012 the world has rejuvenated the much needed value of cacao, the sacredness and the ceremony back to communities for spiritual, ritual, healing and bonding purposes.
People are now benefitting all around the world becoming more connected with themselves, others and appreciation for the treasurable cacao beverage.
We are truly blessed to be involved in this ritualistic human experience.
What is in Cacao?
Raw cacao has been claimed to be the most complex food known to man.
The bean in its natural ceremonial grade state is the only form which has all the benefits.
No Cadbury or Nestle chocolate will have even a fraction of the nutrients or benefits ceremonial cacao has. They are essentially just pulverises milk, sugar and cacao flavouring.
Raw Cacao contains:
- The highest concentrations of antioxidants and magnesium of any food in the world
- Vitamin C
- Healthy omega-6 fatty acids
- Monoamine oxidase (MAO)
- PEA aka phenylethylamine
- Oxytocin (the love chemical)
- Other minerals and vitamins
Common Macro Micro:
Average Cacao Bean Chemistry
per 100 grams:
- 456 calories
- 3.6 g H2O
- 12.0 g protein
- 46.3 g fat (typically 40 to 50 grams, but sometimes as low as 12 grams)
- 34.7 g total carbohydrate
- 8.6 g fiber
- 106 mg calcium
- 537 mg phosphorus
- 3.6 mg Fe (iron)
- 0.17-0.24 mg thiamine
- 0.14-0.41 mg riboflavin
*Credit David Wolfe Naked Chocolate
Mood, Bliss & Love
Cacao naturally is an energy and mood enhancer enjoyed by foodists, superfood lovers and spiritual communities.
Cacao also contains PEA aka phenylethylamine. This is the chemical that gets produced when we fall in love which promotes increasing focus and alertness.
Anandamide is what is known as the bliss chemical. This is an endorphin that the body usually produces after exercise which makes us feel joy and reduces pain. Anandamide is only found in one substance – cacao.
Anti- Ageing & Blood Flow
Cacao has shown to rejuvenate skin, prevent wrinkles and promote anti ageing benefits. It does this by protecting the skin from UV radiation and photo-aging due to the specific polyphenols found in cacao.
Cacao also shows the possible anti-tumor effects due to the highly dense phyto-chemicals found in the bean.
Cocoa is one of many food sources of substances that increase the production or bioavailability of endothelial nitric oxide (NOS).
NOS works by relaxing the muscle and blood vessel cells allowing for an increase in blood circulation.
This means it increases blood flow throughout the body and to the retina. This allows muscles to receive more oxygen and work better.
This means better cardiac output, muscle contractions, organ health and massive boners .
Studies show that 50% of Americans and Europeans get less than the daily need of magnesium.
Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in your body. It plays some of the most important roles for the health of your body and brain.
Magnesium is involved in every cell in your body and needs it to function.
Magnesium is Involved in more than 600 reactions in your body including:
- Converting food into energy
- Create new proteins and amino acids
- Create and repair DNA and RNA
- Part of the process that makes muscles contract and relax
- Regulates neurotransmitters and the central nervous system
- Increases exercise performance
- Helps fight depression
- Lowers blood pressure
- Anti- inflammatory benefits
- Reduce insulin resistance
Compared to blood the concentration of magnesium is 18x higher. Magnesium and antioxidants act directly on the heart, combined with NOS, the cacao beverage can allow more blood flow and a release for opening up the heart’s blood flow.
If you have not had a large dose of ceremonial cacao before, not long after you can really feel your heartbeat beating deeply in your chest.
Ceremonial cacao is a food source, this means magnesium absorption is increased due to better bioavailability which is more preferable to the body.
This means your body can absorb a higher percentage of magnesium through your gut and into your bloodstream and cells.
Antioxidants – Flavonoids
Raw cacao has been shown to have the most abundant flavonoid (antioxidants and antioxidant activity) profile than any other plant!
Again, as ceremonial cacao is a food source the antioxidants are absorbed better with greater bioavailability. Your body can digest, absorb and extract maximum flavonoids out of this cacao antioxidant powerhouse.
Antioxidants protect your body from ageing and receiving damage from everyday toxins and stressors such as:
- Air pollution
- Cigarette smoke
- Chemicals you clean with
- Toxins found on foods or in things that make skin contact like soaps, shampoos etc.
- High blood sugar
- Polyunsaturated fats like, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, rice bran oil, canola oil, margarine
- Radiation and sun damage
- Excessive vitamin intake
- Too many antioxidants
- Not enough antioxidants
Antioxidants help your body fight off any of these harmful things that can get into the body, especially allergens, germs, toxins, and other irritants.
If you do not receive a healthy dose of antioxidants or flavonoids it makes it harder for your body to dismiss inflammatory reactions or uncomfortable symptoms like hay fever, pains, fatigue, bloating, feeling off, sick or swollen etc.
Other Huge Benefits:
- Prevent you cells from ageing
- Fight against cancer and prevent it
- Promotes a rejuvenating effect to the body and skin
- Purify blood vessels and promote blood vessel health (help you feel and perform younger longer)
- Reduces blood pressure
The happy hormone. Serotonin is literally what makes happiness in your brain which converts melatonin which helps you to get a good night’s sleep. Without serotonin you’re more likely to be moody and suffer poor sleep. Hence, healthy serotonin levels help with stress management.
Good thing cacao is rich in substances that make the body produce and stimulate plenty of serotonin.
Anandamide The Bliss Chemical
Anandamide is the bliss and joy feeling that is produced post exercise, especially long gruelling workouts or runs.
Cacao is the only plant this chemical is found in and it also prevents the breakdown of anandamide. This means a longer and more common feeling of bliss. Hell yes cacao!
PEA – The Love Molecule
PEA – phenylethylamine is the chemical that is released in our brains and bodies when we are in love. Sex and orgasm euphoria is the side effect of PEA.
People who are really happy all the time usually have high levels of PEA.
- Increases focus
- Makes time feel longer
- Less distracted
- Less hunger
- Only found in two foods one is raw cacao as anything heated or modified destroys this chemical
- Hell yes cacao
WHAT IS IN CACAO PT 2.0
Tryptophan helps promote serotonin. Tryptophan enhances, aids in reducing anxiety and stress. Again must not be heated as heat destroys the chemical.
Chromium & Zinc
Large trace elements of zinc and chromium can be found in cacao aiding in regulating blood sugar, growth, insulin health, protein synthesis, sperm production and a strong immune system.
Theobromine & Caffeine
Theobromine is a bitter alkaloid of the cacao plant and is similar to caffeine.
It also has similar effects and is only found in the cacao plant. Cacao also has a very low dose of caffeine.
- Brain performance and cognitive function
- Increases airflow to the lungs and lung function
- Helps with asthma
- Improves HDL Cholesterol and lowers LDL
- Makes a longer more restful sleep
- Lowers blood pressure and can be used as a diuretic
Oxytocin is the love hormone. When giving or receiving love, going out on dates, hugs, being with close friends or family etc. can stimulate oxytocin.
Oxytocin can also have a sexual urge stimulating effect.
Monoamine Oxidase (MAO)
Cacao has substances that inhibit the MAO enzyme. Psychedelics and antidepressants also have MAO inhibitors which make you feel happy and improve your mood. Hence, ceremonial cacao is a natural mood enhancer which also has the ability to activate DMT.
Therefore, cacao should not be mixed with psychedelics like ayahuasca, let the plants do their own thing.
This can be a reason as to why the cacao ceremony itself is so important and respected in spiritual communities.
Modern Day Cacao Drinkers
Due to the bringing back of the cacao ceremony over the 21 years its popularity is really beginning to spike again especially in Australia.
People are enjoying the bliss, love, calm focus, zen and good energy vibes the cacao ceremony is providing.
Some people drink it every morning, others drink it with friends or groups and some save it for meditational ceremonies only.
There are brands popping up everywhere who make their own brew of ceremonial cacao that we, as drinkers can enjoy.
Bali is a spiritual place known for its world class ceremonial cacao. I personally experienced my first ceremony meditation in Bali.
The experience which was so powerful that everything I am doing with my life now comes from the reflections and insights I had during that time.
Modern Cacao Uses and Rules
There are so many ways to use cacao and the ceremony space of the brew.
Here are a list of rules and tips that you can use when using ceremonial grade cacao:
- You can add it into smoothies, yoghurts and foods
- It is best taken at night for sleep or first thing in the morning to kick start your mood or focus
- The ceremony itself should be protected
- Doing a ceremony with one or two other people is quite intimate
- When doing a ceremony be sure to follow the guidelines below
- Do not heat the cacao, let it melt using something warm like a rice cooker, warm water, or melt using a glass bowl. (Follow the recipe guides below)
- Drinking cacao everyday we make you less sensitive to its effects quite quickly
- Drinking with family and friends can be a great experience
- Mixing with psychedelic mushrooms with a small dose is fun
- BE AWARE of the dosages there are multiple doses depending on the cacao. Knowing that 50 -100gms depends where you got it from can give you a strong feeling or emotions or mood enhancers.
My First Cacao Ceremony Experience
There are multiple types of ceremonies and dosages for cacao ceremonies. I personally have had some of the larger doses with close friends of mine…. Note* All girls I have done this with have cried from happiness and gratitude.
If you haven’t ruined the substance with heat, you can feel quite a strong effect.
Note* you do not feel drunk or dizzy, but your heart feels warm and fuzzy, you feel overwhelmed with happiness, gratitude, presence and love and you may even experience the cacao flashes.
The cacao flashes are something many people I know who enjoy ceremonial cacao and myself have experienced.
The cacao flashes occur after the ceremony when you clothes your eyes and allow the cacao to work its medicine.
People who you love pop up into your mind like a carousel and you can’t help feeling overwhelming love and happiness for them being in your life. It is really quite beautiful.
My first cacao experience was in Ubud Bali.
The brief gist of what happened was:
- The layout was a room with many people set up in the way of how you would be set up for yoga, matts and pillows
- The facilitator at the front went over where the cacao come from its power and a blessing
- We drank the cacao as mindfully as possible, slowly, feeling it all around our mouths, teeth tongues and going down our throats into our stomachs and being appreciative of something in our lives with every sip.
- When we finished the drink we laid down and the facilitator guided us through a meditation for 50 minutes
Quick note: if cacao is prepared properly it is the most chocolatey thing you have ever experienced and is actually amazing to taste.
In this meditation I got so clear with exactly what I wanted to do with my life.
I set the intention beforehand, and visualised exactly what I desired my life to look like for the next 5-10 years.
I would be deep in the meditation and come out of it every 10 minutes after a massive realisation like “OMG I HAVE TO WRITE THIS DOWN”!
I would then see everyone else was laying down with their eyes closed and I would lay back down.
What was surreal was every time I laid back down I would enter the meditative state exactly where I stopped beforehand. It was like adding another link on the chain to the depth of my thoughts.
I came out of the meditation desperately thinking “I have to write this down immediately I cannot fort it” roughly 3-4 times.
Upon finishing the facilitator put his hands together and gave me a nod, which I returned and started sprinting out of the place, and sped on my scooter until I returned to my AirBNB to write everything down.
I felt incredible, clear and felt I had found my direction after that experience.
I’d just like to note that this is one of many types of experiences you can use a cacao ceremony as an anchor for.
What Are Some Other Experiences?
- Setting different intentions to explore like opening your heart, loving yourself, loving others and feeling bliss
- Getting clear on emotional and mental blockages and patterns
- Trying to get more in touch with the best version of yourself
- Balancing masculine and feminine energies
- Creating a time for other meditations or just stillness of the mind
- Enhance your own creativity and express yourself through your own work or art
- Movement like yoga or dancing
- Relationship exercise with a partner
- To build closer bonds with your friends
CACAO CEREMONY Pt 1 – THE RECIPE
I have had the pleasure to facilitate numerous cacao ceremonies and from my perspective they have had great success. These experiences have been quite amazing to be honest.
Firstly, you must prepare the cacao. There are multiple ways to do so.
The trick is not to get the cacao too hot as that will destroy all the good natural substances that cause effect within your body.
Here are the steps I like to follow:
Equipment To Choose From:
- Cup or mugs
- Mixer, Blender, or Rice Cooker for many people
- Heat up water to a gentle simmer in a saucepan
- Place a glass or pottery bowl on top
- Place cacao into the bowl and stir occasionally until melted
- You can melt cacao first or just place in the blender with liquid
- Add cacao warm liquid
- Add cacao, dry ingredients and liquid to a blender
- Blend and serve
- Melt cacao into a bowl you can whisk in
- Slowly add liquid and dry ingredients while mixing slowly
- Slowly reheat ingredients if you need to improve texture
- Best for multiple people
- Add cacao to rice cooker only use the warm feature
- Allow cacao to melt, add in liquid + dry ingredients slowly
- Stir frequently until smooth
- Heat up water to a gentle simmer in a saucepan
- Put cacao into a mug
- Place mug into the saucepan so the water outside the mub comes halfway up the mug
- Stir cacao, liquid and dry ingredients in the mug until smooth
Note* You can serve cacao on top of pancakes, bananas and yogurts which is really good for children too.
Get creative and enjoy :).
- Upon serving have a taste and ensure the texture and taste is right for you
- Serving size is:
- 42g full ceremonial dose
- 20g works well for a lot of people
- 8-10g will get a little activation
- 20-38g is a deeper experience and is quite a lot of cacao
- Serving size is:
Ingredients & Sweeteners that can be used:
- Vanilla powder or extract pair perfectly
- Cinnamon combines well with cacao helps prevent a huge insulin spike too
- Cayenne or chilli helps with absorption of cacao into the bloodstream.
- Maca root powder is awesome and sometimes has an aphrodisiac effect.
- Coconut sugar is delicious for sweetening
- Natural sweeteners like monk fruit
- Manuka honey
- Maple syrup
- Oat, almond, coconut milk
1-2 serves depending on cacao and amount of liquid used
- Chop the cacao up finely with a sharp knife
- Choose method of preparation above (I like the mixer)
- Melt the cacao and mix slowly you may need to take the bowl on or off a very low heat occasionally
- Add in ½ cup milk of choice slowly mixing as you add it in
- Add in other ingredients:
- 1-2 teaspoons of honey or maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ceylon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of medicinal mushrooms of choice I like lions mane (reishi, lions mane, ashwagandha)
- ½ teaspoon cayenne if you like spice
- One big pinch of celtic salt
- As much liquid as desired (water, oat, almond or coconut milk or cow’s milk)
6. Keep mixing slowly with the heat down as low as possible until smooth
7. Serve into a cup and set the setting to get ready to start the ceremony
Pt 2. HOW TO CACAO CEREMONY
There are many ways to perform a ceremony whether it’s just for you by yourself, with a partner, a friend, a group of friends or family members.
I believe the MAIN BENEFIT and PURPOSE of a cacao ceremony is to strengthen your gratitude muscles.
Gratitude is a skill the more you practice the better you get.
A cacao ceremony is like having the best workout in the world for gratitude building.
Here is the format I like to structure a cacao ceremony:
- Acknowledgement of current time and space
- A thank you for being here
- Acknowledgment of the cacao, its history and purpose
- What’s in the cacao
- Explain how cacao ceremony strengthens gratitude
- Set intentions
- Explain how to perform the ceremony and close
- Drink, notice, express gratitude and repeat
- Starts with someone stating what they are grateful for
- Everyone drinks
- Notice the texture, taste, temperature and how the cacao feels on your lips, in your mouth, in your teeth and going down your throat
- Once finished allow time for people to have closed eyes time laying down or sitting up for 5-10 minutes
- Here you can talk through a brief meditation
- Encourage people to talk about what they are seeing or feeling eyes remaining closed
- When it feels right close the ceremony
WHERE TO BUY CEREMONIAL CACAO?
Here are a few links where you can purchase the goods:
- House of Health Adelaide Central Market have all kinds of ranges ,https://houseofhealthcollective.com.au/
- The Source Bulk Foods have bulk options: ,https://thesourcebulkfoods.com.au/
- Sacred earth medicine powerful cacao: ,https://sacredearthmedicine.com.au/
- Cacao Mama original powerful cacao: ,https://www.cacaomama.com/
- Cacao ceremony and events in Australia: ,https://www.flykakao.com/pages/community
I tend to make these meditations up as I try to notice what feels right.
My go to for a cacao ceremony sounds like this:
Take a second to get comfortable sitting or laying down and close your eyes.
Let’s take a couple of slow relaxing breaths.
Allow yourself to feel the cacao working through you.
First notice the taste, the texture, the feeling in your body and your chest.
Allow the cacao tingles to rise up in your heart.
Notice your heart beat, is it slow, fast or hard?
Notice that your heart has connections to your brain and your body.
Allow yourself to really feel your heart and appreciate all the work it does for you.
Try to really feel your heart.
Notice that your heart is so much more than an organ it is where your love and gratitude come from.
Try to feel and fill up your heart with the feeling of love and gratitude.
Really feel it.
Now expand it to wherever it needs to go and appreciate what comes up.
*Allow time before allowing eyes to remain shut and discussion about what people are seeing and feeling. It may trigger something good in someone else.
Close: Appreciate everyone who participated and give thanks.
- ,Nutrition & Science
- ,Effect of Cocoa and Its Flavonoids on Biomarkers of Inflammation: Studies of Cell Culture, Animals and Humans
- ,Cocoa Bioactive Compounds: Significance and Potential for the Maintenance of Skin Health
- ,Nutrition & Science
- ,Effect of Cocoa and Its Flavonoids on Biomarkers of Inflammation: Studies of Cell Culture, Animals and Humans
Australia Cacao Case Study: ,https://www.businessinsider.com.au/cacao-ceremony-san-francisco-2017-5?r=US&IR=T