Sacred Medicine from the Amazon: Ceremonial Cacao

Sacred Medicine from the Amazon: Ceremonial Cacao

Ceremonial Cacao, derived from the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree, isn’t just a delicious treat; it’s also considered a powerful medicine with a rich history of therapeutic use dating back to ancient civilizations of the Aztecs and Mayans. Unlike the heavily processed chocolate found on supermarket shelves, cacao retains its potent nutritional and healing properties.

Although, Ceremonial Cacao and chocolate are derived from the same source—cacao beans— they undergo different processing methods. Cacao typically refers to minimally processed cacao products, such as raw cacao powder or cacao nibs, that retain more of the bean’s natural nutrients and compounds. These products are often consumed for their potential health benefits, including antioxidants, mood enhancement, and cardiovascular support.

Chocolate is a broad category that encompasses a wide range of products made by combining cacao with other ingredients such as sugar, milk, and additional flavorings. While some types of chocolate, particularly those with higher cacao content, may offer health benefits similar to medicinal cacao, many commercial chocolate products undergo extensive processing, which can diminish the nutritional value and introduce additional ingredients that may not be as beneficial.

Ceremonial Cacao is a superfood brimming with antioxidants, minerals, and mood-enhancing compounds. It’s packed with flavonoids like epicatechin, which promote cardiovascular health by improving blood flow and reducing inflammation. Additionally, ceremonial cacao contains a unique blend of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and phenylethylamine, which contribute to its reputation as a natural mood booster and aphrodisiac. It has a profound impact to our brain health and function within 20-30 minutes after drinking it.


How it Works:

It journeys through our blood stream and crosses the blood brain barrier reaching different regions of the brain. One area that they target is the hippocampus a region that is involved with learning and memory. Here, the flavonoids boost the production of neurons which is the process called neurogenesis and they improve the ability to form new connections enhancing memory and learning capabilities.

Cacao does much more, it also increases the production of several neurotransmitters. One of the transmitters it increases is phenylethylamine, which causes the release of endorphins and other mood enhancing compound. It’s the same chemical your brain produces when you fall in love.

Another neurotransmitter influenced by cacao is anandamide, often referred as the bliss molecule. Anadamide is a neurotransmitter and endocannabinoid that brings about feelings of euphoria and also known as the neurotransmitter that produces a “runner’s high”.

 A cup of cacao can lift your spirits when you are feeling sad or gloomy! Lastly, cacao also has impact on the brain’s blood flow. The flavonoids in the cacao have vasodilatory effects meaning that they widen the blood vessels allowing more blood and oxygen to reach the brain. This improved blood flow can boost cognitive function, attention, and overall brain health.

Beyond its cognitive benefits, cacao has a profound impact on physical health. Its high magnesium content supports muscle function and relaxation, making it an excellent aid for stress relief and sleep. Moreover, studies suggest that regular consumption of cacao may lower the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, thanks to its ability to regulate blood pressure and improve insulin sensitivity.

In Ceremonies:

When we talk about cacao as ceremonial cacao we are talking about this high grade, flavorful, traditional unprocessed chocolate that is used to emulate some of the spiritual practices that have been used by the indigenous in South America. The indigenous practices historically have used cacao for life-affirming ceremonies including births, marriages, battles, and to honor the Gods. When consumed mindfully, cacao can induce a state of heightened focus, creativity, and clarity, making it a favorite among meditators and spiritual seekers as it is also understood as a “Heart Opener”.

In traditional medicine systems like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, ceremonial cacao is revered for its therapeutic properties. It’s often used to alleviate digestive issues, menstrual discomfort, and respiratory ailments. Its warming nature and anti-inflammatory properties make it a valuable ingredient in herbal remedies for everything from coughs and colds to arthritis and joint pain.

Ceremonial cacao gatherings, inspired by indigenous traditions, have become popular worldwide as a way to honor the spirit of cacao and harness its healing energies. These ceremonies often involve ritualistic preparation and consumption of pure, unadulterated cacao accompanied by meditation, music, and heartfelt intention-setting. However, anyone can make a ceremonial cacao drink! It can be done at any time. It can be used in the morning to start your day or in the evening before bed to close your day and release. The key to ceremonial cacao based on the indigenous view of this plant is that every plant has medicine, plants are alive with its own sacred energy and properties for healing so you approach it with reverence and intention.

You begin by focusing on the process of making your chocolate by measuring out the cacao and melt it over hot water. For intention setting and gatherings 30-35 grams per 8 oz cup is a good amount. You can add cinnamon, lavender, rose, and you can add other spices, and honey or milk if so desired. The ceremony of the drink is in the preparation so do not put it into a blender as that will lose the process of what you are trying to do to connect with the cacao. Once you pour it into your cup you can light some sage or other incense around your cup, focus on your breathing for a few moments as you inhale the steam, continue to breathe, and set your intention and slowly blow into your cup and drink. Cultivate this into a connected spiritual practice by adding some favorite meditative music, bring your journal into your space, and meditate. Ceremonial Cacao can be a great additional to your self-care or sacred ritual practice.

I will be providing a ceremonial cacao gathering with hape’ and ceremonial cacao on April 27th if you are interested. Please reach out to with any questions, or click HERE for additional information.

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