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Activating and Relaxing Using Ceremonial Cacao

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Tracey Jewel

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Sep 03, 2021

Activating and Relaxing Using Ceremonial Cacao

Welcome to the wonderful world of cacao - pure, unadulterated, dark chocolate.

With its inviting aroma, velvety texture, ancient history and incredible health benefits, it's no wonder cacao is becoming more and more popular in western culture as a wellness drink and support tool in people's lives.

Today we're going to share how you can use cacao powder to activate and invigorate your life, find more relaxation and presence as well as apply it in your daily routine. Cacao can be used in so many different ways to enhance any experience.

Firstly, we want to share that there is no 'right' way to use cacao - sometimes we overcomplicate things (guilty), but in reality, cacao doesn't come with a pre-set of conditions - let your imagination and creativity run wild while using this ancient plant medicine. Whether you use cacao nibs, cacao paste, cacao powder, or perhaps process a raw cacao bean yourself straight off a cacao tree, it's really up to you how you add this flavanol-rich chocolate to your healthy diet. The daily intake of cacao will supply your body with essential dietary fiber and a whole range of other nutrients to boost your brain power, prevent cardiovascular disease, reduce oxidative stress and satisfy your chocolate cravings!

Cacao for Activation and Brain Function

When it comes to using cacao for activation, to activate simply means to set in motion; to make active or more active than before.

Some of the best activities where cacao can further your activation:

  • Getting your sweat on; whether it's a yoga class, resistance training, a nature hike, dark chocolate consumption is a potent aphrodisiac, or if you're going dancing for hours - let cacao enliven your experience.
  • Achieving the completion of tasks, finishing an important project, or meeting a deadline - capitalizing on cacao's stimulating properties as part of a balanced diet can certainly assist you in focused flow and getting zoned in (two cacao's deep writing this piece), as it's an excellent source of important nutrients and powerful antioxidants that support cognitive performance.
  • Emotional work, healing trauma in a safe environment, conscious breathwork, shamanic practices and all types of workshops; the spiritual properties of ceremonial cacao have supported countless users in the most life-changing and transformative experiences of mind, body, and spirit.

If you've been promising yourself to 'do that thing' - we invite you to meet yourself in that promise and enhance it with the benefits of cacao by taking a delicious cup of hot chocolate.

Positive Effects of Cacao for Relaxation

So… on the flipside, when it comes to relaxing, using cacao to unwind almost seems paradoxical, as it's technically a stimulant - however, let's look at what's happening to the body as it can have extremely beneficial effects to support relaxation and overall wellbeing.

For example, when using high quality organic cacao powder, our heart rate increases but blood pressure drops. The established science shows us that this is due to the vasodilating properties of cacao; the compound theobromine (found almost exclusively in cacao) acts as a smooth muscle relaxant, and the antioxidant activity of epicatechin (epi-cat-akin), a type of polyphenol, stimulates nitric oxide synthase, increasing the availability of nitric oxide, which improves blood flow, arterial elasticity, pulse wave velocity and fluidity of blood.[1] [2] [3]

All of these supporting mechanisms have an extremely favorable effect on the heart and cardiovascular system, and have a tremendous anti-inflammatory benefit that reduces the risk of heart disease as it helps us become more relaxed. This is why cacao has been coined as a heart medicine for thousands of years, and the modern day literature directly points to confirming this (among many other benefits).

There's also something to be said about cacao being an excellent source of magnesium. Magnesium is essential for humans and is required in relatively large amounts. Magnesium is essential to many crucial body functions, including a regular heartbeat, blood vessel function, proper nerve function, and muscle relaxation.

Cacao also lights up the pleasure centers of the brain; when our mood is lifted, we feel better about ourselves, which ultimately allows us to feel more relaxed.

Some of the ways cacao can support your relaxation:

  • Deep breathing & breathing exercises
  • Yin Yoga
  • Massage, Reiki, or some type of therapeutic practice where you can receive
  • Painting or drawing
  • Journaling
  • Meditation & mindfulness
  • Sitting in nature or going camping

It's worth nothing, when it comes to serving sizes, this may heavily impact the experience of using cacao; a15-gram serving of cacao is going to feel quite different to 35 grams of cacao - we would expect most users to feel quite activated and stimulated at 35g, whereas 15g tends to give users a more relaxed yet uplifting experience.

So whether you're seeking more activating support in a focused task or exercise, or looking to slow down, become more relaxed and present, the consumption of chocolate can support both experiences.

In kindness & chocolate,
Cacao Collective

References:

[1] The history and science of chocolate; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24362474/
[2] Cocoa and cardiovascular health; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19289648/
[3] Chocolate at heart: the anti-inflammatory impact of cocoa flavanols; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18991246/

FAQs About the Benefits of Cacao

Does cacao help anxiety?

Yes it does. The antioxidant power of cacao helps reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. It produces positive emotions, like those experienced when you are in love. Dark chocolate contains cacao polyphenols, which work with the dopamine hormone in the brain.

Is it OK to have cacao at night?

It is definitely okay. A warm cup of cocoa can help you sleep at night, especially during the winter months. Cacao powder makes you sleepy because it contains tryptophan, the amino acid that promotes sleep.

How much cacao should you take daily?

Cacao is a delicious drink packed with numerous health benefits, therefore an important part of a balanced diet. You should however limit your raw cacao intake to no more than 40 grams per day.

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