“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Being a critical care registered nurse for 30 years I have developed a strong scientific background as well as a true love for the nature in medicine, lets call it The Roots. While I can clearly see the benefit of our American medical model, I also have clearly and devastatingly witnessed a decline in practice of the art and science of medicine and a shift in the paradigm to the industry and capital generating machine for the pharmaceutical corporations.
Resourcing our selves and our bodies back to nature, we can develop a true homeostasis in the stressful environments we are in. When we are in balance inside ourselves and in sync with the natural world, existing becomes authentic living and when we live authentically, we are thriving. We are alive to thrive!
Ceremonial grade cacao has it's active constituents intact if treated minimally and conscientiously to avoid degradation of these properties. Some gentle processing with precise temperature control seems to release these properties as well as some subtle energies that have been dormant inside the bean.
Let's talk here for a moment about each: (This is a informational article only, not meant to diagnose or treat and by no means comprehensive)
Antioxidants ~ It's a super-antioxidant food, with antioxidant levels that can be:
20 x higher than red wine
30 x higher than green tea
50 x higher than blueberries
5 x higher than average goji
Magnesium ~ Cacao may be the highest sour of this precious mineral that is needed in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It has been documented that 80% of Americans are chronically deficient in Magnesium. Our soils are deplete, our bodies are suffering the effects of this on many levels.
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in our human body and is partially responsible for countless aspects of good, sound health.
Magnesium fights acid build up, it neutralizes toxins, calms sensitivity to pain, quiets nerves, keeps our heart beating rhythmically, supports a healthy immune system, builds strong matrix in our bones and teeth, regulates our internal clock (sleeping and waking cycles), hormone release, body temperature. It has an enormous impact on our metabolism in protein synthesis and regulating insulin.
Phenylethylamine (PEA) ~ is found in abundance in cacao beans. Because PEA is heat sensitive, much of the PEA in conventional cooked and processed chocolate is missing. PEA is the adrenal-related chemical that we produce in our bodies when we fall in love. This is likely one of the main reasons why love and chocolate have such a deep connection. PEA also plays a role in increasing focus and alertness.
Chromium ~ We are also deeply deficient in this important trace mineral. Chromium helps to balance the blood sugar and increase sensitivity to insulin. It has a significant responsibility to detoxify the liver from alcohols which build up during the fermentation process of sugars and starches. Chromium lowers bad cholesterol, raising the good cholesterol. It's been known to improve athletic performance, reduce fatigue and depression and decrease age related mental decline.
Cacao seems to diminish appetite, probably due to its monoamine oxidase enzyme inhibitors (MAO inhibitors) ~ these are different from digestive enzyme inhibitors found in most nuts and seeds. An enzyme called monoamine oxidase is involved in removing the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine from the brain. MAOIs (cacao) prevent this from happening, which makes more of these brain chemicals available. This is thought to boost mood by improving brain cell communication.
Tryptophan ~ Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is transformed into important stress-protective neurotransmitters including serotonin and melatonin. Tryptophan is heat sensitive and therefore it is “cooked out” in many high protein foods and in conventional processed chocolate.
******************IMPORTANT TO NOTE ABOUT MAOI & TRYPTOPHAN*******************
Most antidepressants including St. John's Wort do not combine well with MAO inhibitors such as cacao. Please google your medication's interactions.
MAOIs can cause dangerous interactions with certain foods and beverages. You'll need to avoid foods containing high levels of tyramine — an amino acid that regulates blood pressure — such as aged cheeses, sauerkraut, cured meats, draft beer and fermented soy products, such as soy sauce, miso or tofu. You may have limited amounts of wine and bottled or canned beer, but it is better to wait until after the ceremony to receive the full benefits of the cacao.
Caffeine and Theobromine: What's the deal with cacao and caffeine? Contrary to popular opinion, cacao is a poor source of caffeine. A typical sample of cacao nibs or cacao beans will yield anywhere from zero caffeine to an amount which is similar to decaffeinated coffee. It would seem that this rumor is based primarily on a confusion between two similar alkaloids: caffeine and theobromine.
Theobromine is the active ingredient in chocolate and it occurs only in cacao. The two stimulants are related and have a similar structures, but are very different chemicals with different properties, effects and origins. There are of course, some chocolate products that have added caffeine, but it does not occur naturally.
Theobromine has a direct action on blood vessels causing dilation, thus it is able to reduce blood pressure and relieve strain on the circulatory system by reducing edema and relieving angina. This dilation effect on the kidneys acts as a diuretic. In the brain, the effect is increased mental focus and alertness. The vasodilation in combination with smooth muscle relaxant effect in the lungs produce opening of restricted airways and is effective in treating asthma. It also has an antitussive effect (cough suppressant).
Anandamide (The Bliss Chemical) ~ A neurotransmitter called anandamide, has been isolated in cacao. Anandamide is also produced naturally in the brain. It is known as "The Bliss Chemical" because it is released while we are feeling great. Cacao contains enzyme inhibitors that decrease our bodies' ability to breakdown anandamide. This means that natural anandamide and/or cacao anandamide may stick around longer, making us feel good longer, when we eat cacao.
From a well researched medical standpoint, cacao has many benefits to our physical and emotional bodies. More research is happening right now linking it to reducing dementia and as a protection from certain cancers.
When we sit in Ceremony with this powerful Medicine, also accessing the Spirit of the Plant, we increase it's bioavailability by our open awareness and her invitation. Keith, the Cacao Shaman has said:
"Chocolate brings the door but doesn’t push you through it."
In other words Cacao is a gentle guide and facilitator. If you really want to stay safe in your rational mind and have a gently arousing, heart opening experience with yourself or others, Cacao is the perfect companion. The literal translation of 'xocoatl' (pronounced shoco-latle)
the conquistador era indigenous Aztec word for drinkable chocolate was ‘heart blood’.
I like to think of it as LIQUID LOVE. ENJOY!