Ceremonial Cacao is a powerful medicinal plant material which has been used by various cultures for 5000 years or longer. Like any other plant or plant extract with powerful healing properties (such as essential oils), cacao must be shown respect and treated with common sense.
Firstly, let's explain the possible dangers of consuming ceremonial cacao for certain people. You should speak with your doctor before consuming ceremonial cacao if you are:
The theobromine in cacao is a vasodilator: it increases the heart rate and lowers blood pressure. Ceremony Cacao doses will increase blood flow to the brain & heart by at least 40%.
If you have a heart condition or are pregnant it is likely still safe to consume ceremonial cacao but at lower doses of around 15-20g. You should also only consume this dose of the cacao paste rather than the cacao powder. The paste retains the beans fat content, which balances its stimulating properties and facilitates absorption into the body over a longer period of time.
It is not recommended to take ceremonial cacao doses above 55 grams — anything above this dosage is known to produce headaches, “the sweats”, nausea, or even heart palpitations for a small percentage of people.
Cacao paste is the cacao butter and powder combined and because the bean’s fat remains intact this helps to balance its stimulating properties and facilitate absorption into the body over a longer period of time. The paste has more nutritional and beneficial therapeutic properties than the two separate entities. The paste is used to make the drink at a Cacao Ceremony.
Cacao powder is where much of the nutritional value is.. Cacao powder contains over 300 important compounds, including protein B-vitamins and minerals such as calcium, sulphur, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and copper. It also contains most of the antioxidants and theobromine. Because of the lack of fat it absorbs into the body much quicker and acts more as a stimulant than the paste. You can think of Cacao paste and powder in a similar way to a smoothie and a juice. The Cacao powder is like the juice shot without the pulp to slow down the digestion of the substance, delivering a quick powerful shot of the plant nutrients.
During a Cacao Ceremony the widely recommended dose is 42g of the cacao paste in a cup of liquid (around 250mls). Although a ceremonial dose which has emotional and physical effects can be anywhere between 25 and 43 grams. The liquid should be water or plant milk or a mixture of both. Animal milk is not advised as it inhibits some of the benefits of cacao. For me, a ceremonial cup of cacao induces a slight euphoric, blissful feeling. I feel more connected and open-hearted. It has a real relaxing and warming energy to it.
You should play with the ratios and amount to see what suits you best on any particular day. You may like to start with around 25-30g of cacao in total and increase to 40g as you get used to it. Our Raw Cacao Starter Pack includes 200g of both paste and powder. This is a good purchase for those new to cacao.
These days I prefer to make my Cacao drinks with more paste than powder or 100% paste. That is where the real magic happens. Over the period of time I have been drinking ceremonial cacao, I have felt the cacao energy affect my state of being. It has helped me to reach a higher level of consciousness in daily life and has complimented my other energetical and spiritual practices such as Yoga, Qi gong and meditation.
Obviously you can also use the cacao powder and paste for baking and cooking according to your recipe . Yum!
If you want to learn more about the amazing benefits of Cacao read our Introduction To Cacao post.