Of course you’ve heard of cacao. It’s been so popular in smoothie shops, acai bowls, and discussed on other fancy health blogs. I bought a bag of it in a health food store last year because it was on sale and I’d heard that it’s “good for you,” better than chocolate. From what I assumed, cacao was just a part of chocolate without all the processing.

What is CACAO?

Essentially, that is cacao: raw, unfiltered, and delicious, but it’s not just an ingredient of chocolate. Cacao alone is like… 700x better than chocolate if you eat it correctly.

Dorothy Farrell, an expert in permaculture and founder of Cacao Source, recently came up to my city and held a cacao workshop, ceremony, and ecstatic dance in my apartment.

Dorothy Farrell with a cacao tree in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Photo by José Der Kinderen

The few cacao nibs I threw into my smoothie merely added some bitterness and apparently, a few nutrients, but here I was nibbling on half of a ceremonial dose (a measurement of cacao) feeling a tingling in my head and a faster heart beat.


Real, unfiltered, fermented cacao can make your heart rate rise by 20%. They say it opens the heart chakra, allowing you to be open to new experiences and tackle goals or intentions such as being present, loving more, maybe loving yourself more. We attempted to tackle these goals with the ceremony.

Nutrients Contained in Cacao

Cacao contains important nutrients that are essential building blocks for the body, especially magnesium and sulfur. I mentioned in my last magnesium post that dark chocolate has high levels of magnesium, but raw cacao has natural levels that are much, much higher, along with sulfur, which are both major building blocks for connective tissue in the body. This means that eating raw cacao can help you heal faster from a tendon or muscle injury. This food is good for people with tendonitis or Fluoroquinolone Toxicity.

Raw cacao contains other important nutrients such as iron, zinc, calcium, phosphorus, and beta carotene, all known to boost the immune system and create a healing environment for your body.

It’s high in antioxidants, which get rid of free radicals (toxins, stressors) that damage your body and can lead to mitochondria damage, which has recently been linked to chronic illness such as Type 2 Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis. Consuming cacao regularly can create a detoxification routine to prevent diseases like this.

P.S. healing your mitochondria also cuts down on everyday fatigue by tackling the problem at the SOURCE.

One of the most interesting aspects of cacao for me was that it gets you high. I don’t know how else to describe it, but cacao made me feel like I was energized and floating without lack of mobility like other stimulants. Dorothy suggested that one can replace your morning coffee with much healthier cacao.

Why do I feel HIGH on CACAO?

Dorothy with Guatemalan women who process cacao
  1. Theobromine: From Cacao Source: “an alkaloid compound most well known for offering cacao its euphoric properties. Scientific journals have reported the compounds effects of decreasing blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and increasing neurological activity.”
  2. Anandamine, also known as the “bliss molecule:” This molecule is only found in cacao and the human brain. (How cool! That reminds me of how squalene is only found in sharks and the human vagina. Seriously, look it up.)
  3. Tryptophan: Also found in turkey meat and the reason you fall asleep after Thanksgiving dinner, tryptophan is great for people with depression and makes you feel good.

Who Shouldn’t Take Cacao?

Pataxte, from the Theobroma Bicolor or ‘Jaguar Tree’ ( a cousin to the Theobroma Cacao). Photo and caption by José Der Kinderen

Heart trouble:

If you suffer from heart trouble and an increase in your heart rate would be bad for you (certain older people, people with heart conditions, pacemakers, etc), don’t take cacao. If you are one of those people who should stay away from heart-increasing exercise, hot tubs, and saunas, cacao may not be safe for you.

Psychiatric Medication:

Anti-depressants and other psych meds can interact with the nutrients and chemical properties in cacao. Cacao suppliers and ceremony hosts recommend to avoid mixing the two if an interaction can occur.


This is from my own personal experience with cacao and my own personal recommendation. The “high” feelings are similar to adderall or cocaine, both of which can incite a manic episode if you suffer from some form of manic depression. If I personally suffered from these things and were at risk, I would avoid cacao. However, my mother, who lives with bipolar disorder, tried it and had fantastic results without spinning into mania, so it is definitely up to you!

Have you tried cacao? What did you think?

Buy some very good quality cacao from Cacao Source on their website, here.

Featured Photo by José Der Kinderen, others courtesy of Dorothy Farrell and Cacao Source