The Sacred Benefits of Ancient Plant Medicine Cacao

Cacao, the plant which can be processed into chocolate, thrives in humid climates. Full of magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron, and many more beneficial minerals, cacao offers nourishment to your physical body, as well as your subtle being.

Incredibly complex, cacao contains hundreds, if not thousands, individual constituents. The healing offered from cacao stems from its tangible benefits. They have a powerful impact on the brain’s neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, and it being a form of ancient plant medicine.

The essence of cacao links to its plant spirit. In the realm of indigenous medicine and herbalism, there is a foundational belief that all plants, coming from the Earth’s spirit, carry a spirit unique to their vines and fruits. Cacao carries within ‘her’ a nurturing, often mother-like energy. She can connect people to their heart space when they consume cacao in a raw, unprocessed form.

Ceremonial grade cacao, the least processed form, is different from cacao powder. Cacao powder, often sold in major grocery stores nowadays, does not have the cacao paste, only the cacao butter. The cacao past seems to be the most potent medicine, so consumers enjoying cacao powder are missing out on some of the more natural elements.

Caffeine vs. Theobromine

A common misconception when consuming cacao is that you will feel hyper and wild due to the caffeine. Cacao contains more theobromine than caffeine. Theobromine stimulates your cardiovascular system, whereas caffeine stimulates your nervous system. Caffeine tends to follow the rise, peak, crash energy pattern. Theobromine offers a much more gentle energizing patter that remains steady.

As cacao is often linked to over-processed chocolate bars, mistaking theobromine for caffeine is relatively understandable. But theobromine carries about one-quarter of the energy of caffeine. Theobromine does have a longer half-life, so the effects last longer but remain subtle.

If you are seeking an alternative for coffee or caffeine drinks, cacao offers a healing option.

Gathering Cacao

Cacao comes from a cacao pod, which is a fruit. Within the pod, white pods wrap around the cacao seeds. The seeds are fermented while the white flesh of the fruit can be discarded. He

at builds during the fermentation, causing temperatures to rise above 124 degrees Fahrenheit. With such heat, the cacao rises above the raw food threshold of 116 degrees Fahrenheit. While cacao is often advertised as ‘raw,’ that’s mainly a marketing tactic. The fire is necessary and was a part of the creation process which indigenous folks made.

Sharing Cacao

Traditionally, Indigenous communities ceremonially consume cacao. The cacao is honored, each person in the gathering seen, and a ‘shared experience’ occurs. This shared experience varies, but in modern cacao ceremonies, it might include dancing, singing, a yoga or meditation practice, and more.

When sharing cacao, honoring the cultures from where it came is a must. Acknowledge where your cacao came from. Take the time to thank the land and the elements (Earth, air, water, and fire) for forging its medicine. In doing so, you can respect the indigenous cultures who first came to know and share cacao.

You can consume cacao in a shared space or a private ritual. Before drinking your cacao, cleanse your area and take the time to be present with your cacao. As you are sitting with a plant spirit, you might infuse your cacao with a message, an invocation, or ask cacao questions. The essence of cacao will likely show herself to you and guide you through a fluid ceremony.

Can I Drink Cacao?

Most everyone can consume cacao, although some individuals should consume lesser dosages. Typical dosages range from 1 ounce to 2 ounces of ceremonial grade cacao. If you are on certain antidepressants, heart medications, or other prescription drugs, check with a doctor before consumption. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you might take a lesser dosage and should also check with a doctor.

Healing Benefits of Ceremonial Cacao

Since emotions are considered energy in motion, with cacao, emotional energy can be unblocked making it easier to process the stagnant energy of old emotions, thus allowing new and healthier emotions to come through.

Pure cacao contains neurotransmitters and neuro-modulators already present in the brain. For example:

  • Norepinephrine – Helps improve alertness and energy and plays a role in the sleep-wake cycle.
  • Serotonin – Helps with wellbeing, and creates resistance to stress. Cacao also has MOA inhibitors, that inhibit re-uptake of serotonin.
  • Dopamine – Gives feelings of motivation and pleasure. Cacao also has MOA inhibitors, that inhibit re-uptake of dopamine.
  • Anandamine – The bliss molecule, it moderates pain, and is associated with the “runners high” effect. Cacao also has N-linoleoylethanolamine, the re-uptake inhibitor for anandamine.
  • Phenylethylamine (PEA) – Helps with excitementalertnessattention. Gives the perception of time slowing down. 

Cacao can create feelings of bliss, inspiration, heightened awareness and an elevated state of consciousness. Focus on your intention while drinking your cacao and let it shift the energies and do its work with each sip.