In a Welsh forest, far from the natural habitat of this medicine, I sat during a Cacao ceremony as a medicine man brewed three different kinds of Peruvian Cacao into hot water boiled on a fire. I thought I would share some of it’s medicine with you. It was an immersion experience as the theobromine and caffeine entered gently in my body, and different vibrations of music filled my soul.
The seeds of the tree, Theobromine Cacao are of course used to make our favorite drinks, cocoa, and is the main ingredient in chocolate.The name is derived from theos meaning the gods and broma meaning the food, but the cacao part of the name is Mesoamerican, known as kakaw in Tzeltal, K’iche’ in Maya and cacahuatl in Nahuatl. The foci of domestication after it was wild, it thought to be Mexico in Lacandon or in the Amazon Basin. Others think it is from Iquitos in Peru, and has been on earth for at least 21,000 years while used for nearly 4,000 as a medicine. Several mixtures of cacao are described in ancient texts, for ceremonial or medicinal reasons. Some mixtures included maize, chili, vanilla and honey. Some ancient vessels from Honduras and vessels from a Mayan tomb in Rio Azul contain remnants of theobromine and caffeine. It is also mentioned in a hieroglyphic text at the same place. The ground Cacao was mixed with Tobacco by the Aztecs for smoking. Cacao beans constituted both a ritual beverage and an offering in Meso American civilizations. The Aztec empire received a yearly tribute of 980 loads of xiquipil (cacao). It was used as a currency by the Mayans. In Mayan mythology the cacao was given to the humans by a plumed serpent after they were created from the maize by an ancestral grandmother, Xmucane. They also had a cacao god called ek chuaj. In ritual use it was thought to be toxic to children and women and only used by men.
Originally cacao may have been fermented and thus drank as an alcohol. Theobromine stimulates the heart to a greater degree. While theobromine is not addictive, it has been cited as possibly causing addiction to the chocolate. The caffeine within the cacao can enhance the reward memory of pollinators such as honey bees, thus increasing the numbers of its progeny. The cacao flavors can vary in aroma like fine wines, and there are three separate kinds used for chocolate. Cocoa is the single healthiest substance you can put in your mouth besides water. It replaces psychiatric drugs for mood, and produces the same chemistry in the brain that occurs when we fall in love, those that act on the pineal glands and another near the heart, called the Bliss Chemical or Anandamide. It slows down the aging game, and stimulates dopamine to be made in the brain, which is a natural drug hormone in itself. The anti-oxidants are the highest of any food in the world. It also makes Tryptophans, a feel good chemical aka serotonin that gives a natural high. Simply put, I love Cacao, and I want to use it regularly in my diet, good thing it’s vegan.