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Cacao health | Ce | Ceremonial cacao | Keith's original writings | Keith's wisdom

Cacao as Medicine

This blog post is an extract from the original writings of Keith Wilson, the Chocolate Shaman. For more recent info on all things Ceremonial Cacao, visit our main blog For the Love of Cacao.

Here are two interesting scientific articles on the health benefits of pure Cacao.

The first, from the American Heart Association, lays out the processes that remove the ‘goodies’ from commercial chocolate and the effects of pure Cacao on the heart and cardiovascular system.

The second, published in the International Journal of Medical Science, is based on the quantified research of Western-trained medicaldoctors working in hospitals in Panama’s San Blas Islands, an autonomous territory inhabited almost exclusively by the Kuna Indians. In 15 years of practice, these doctors observed not a single case of a heart attack or stroke among the Kuna. Other cardiovascular problems are also practically unknown within the Kuna population. Cancer cases are minimal, the frequency of diabetes is 39% of that in Panama, and blood pressure is low even among people of advanced age with high-salt consumption. Many Kuna work on the mainland and retire to the islands later in life, so this is a population with almost double the average of older people. I read somewhere that a local hospital had an Electrocardiograph (EKG) Machine kept in its original wrapper for years. They had no use for it!

The paper reports that amongst the Kuna who consume the local Cacao, the death rate from heart disease is less than 8%, and from cancer, only 16%, compared to the Kuna using commercial Cacao on the mainland. The two populations were matched for age, weight, and several other factors that might affect heart and cancer risks.

Cacao for Heart Health

All the medical/scientific buzz around chocolate began when doctors noticed that these high-salt-diet islanders do not have high blood pressure. The early studies determined that this was not genetic and due instead to their consumption of Cacao. The Kuna drink 0.9oz (25g) of their Cacao a day, I believe. The Kuna do not live longer than anyone else. They live in one of the most impoverished tropical environments, with a high prevalence of infectious diseases. They die from AIDS, infections (like malaria and tuberculosis), long-term internal parasite complications, and accidents. Yet, the risk of death due to cancer and heart disease is so low that the medical community could not overlook the correlation with their consumption of Cacao. 

The medical scientists also noticed that even after decades in a mainland environment, consuming commercially-processed chocolate and everything else that may be considered responsible for the development of the above ubiquitous maladies, once the Kuna returned to the islands and to their regular consumption of traditional, local Cacao, their statistics improved. 

From a well-researched medical standpoint, it is clear that Cacao which retains its active compounds, protects the cardiovascular system: it reduces high blood pressure, improves vascular function, reduces platelet reactivity, improves insulin sensitivity, and is anti-inflammatory.

(Note: There are no reports of any adverse effects of Cacao consumption anywhere in the scientific literature on the Kuna.)

With guidance from the Cacao Spirit, I suggest taking two doses of 10g each daily (15g for the first few months) of our Cacao to receive the full health benefits. According to medical journal papers, this amount will help remove the deposits from arterial walls over several months, reducing the risk of a heart attack and/or stroke. As reported in several papers, it takes a week or so for the effects to build, as with high blood pressure.

Several people went entirely off their high blood pressure medication after regular low-dose cacao use. It would appear that Cacao works where several prescription medications together do not. Its effectiveness builds over time with regular use. Initial use of 10g will reduce blood pressure for only about an hour. Again, try 10g (15g for the first few months) of our Cacao twice a day to start with. 

There is also much in the scientific literature about Cacao lowering bad cholesterol and raising good cholesterol. Additionally, studies have shown that the increased blood flow to the brain may delay senile dementia and Alzheimer’s. Initial results using Mars chocolate with barely half the potency of our Cacao showed a 30% increase in blood flow to the brain with consumption of just one cup. There is also evidence that Cacao increases skin resistance to UV radiation/ sunburn, slows tooth decay, and even acts as a heavy metal chelator, binding and removing them from the body.  

Regular use of Cacao seems to make the blood clots that cause strokes rare and, with the extra blood flow, also keeps the skin smoother in advanced age. If you are over 50, have a history, or are genetically predisposed to heart or cardiovascular problems, consider reading the available scientific papers. You may also find that certain cancers, like cervical, are almost nonexistent in populations with daily traditional Cacao use.

Long-term use of non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen combined with large doses of caffeine is considered damaging to the liver. The Cacao Spirit tells me this is not a problem with Cacao, and I have seen nothing in the medical literature to suggest otherwise.

Pure Cacao vs Commercial Cocoa

Most of the scientific studies on Cacao have used special Cacao provided by the Mars Company, which developed and patented a process for this Cacao, following the early medical research in Panama on the indigenous Kuna. You can read all about their Cocoapro chocolate (which retains only about 50% of Pure Cacao’s active compounds) on their website. They have added a tiny amount of Cocoapro to their M&M’s (stripped of 97% of all active compounds) and to Dove Promises Dark Chocolate Candy (stripped of 95% of active compounds). If you eat some 15 Dove Promises -and don’t get sick!- you will get the buzz equivalent to that of a Lindt bar (the Swiss chocolate retains approximately 20% of Cacao’s nutrients and active compounds). The Mars Company does not market its Cocoapro as commercial chocolate, knowing that it acts as a pharmaceutical drug, even though it has half the strength of much of the chocolate produced 200 years ago. Although they have some products made with Cocoapro, Mars does not believe that consumers like the taste of pure chocolate, and they have no intention of making any significant changes to their products.

Cacao for Depression

Cacao can have miraculous effects on people suffering from depression. I have known people with severe clinical depression who were able to significantly cut down or even completely stop taking prescription drugs almost immediately. I always warn folks who experience these results that they have 4-6 weeks to process the beliefs and situations underlying this enforced retreat within. If they don’t, the depression will return, and medication will again be necessary. Sometimes, the revelation can feel like enlightenment, and it is difficult for such people to believe the depression will ever return. Note that while MAOIs, like those found in Cacao, are used as anti-depressants, they DO NOT MIX with SSRIs, and that can be a problem even days after the anti-depressant medication is stopped. From our observation, taking a standard ceremonial dose of Cacao is safe unless one is on a high dose and/or taking a combination of SSRIs.

Getting off SSRIs with Help From Cacao

Getting off these SSRIs anti-depressants and anti-psychotics will be a commitment and a profound journey. I have seen folks do it, but you have to find your own way - there is no formula. How you begin depends on your dose of SSRIs, compared to the range of doses given for the meds you are on. The idea is to start to taper off the SSRIs and, 4-7 days later, begin taking a little cacao. Too much Cacao, and you will get an excruciating migraine (from the MAOIs in Cacao). You will need a good weighing scale.  

The Cacao will help replace what the SSRIs are doing, but since they work in different ways, one can't do a direct replacement - that would be a disaster. As the SSRIs dosage drops, the issues you are using it to suppress will surface and must be worked with, or failure is guaranteed. If you are willing to allow the process, layer after layer of what has been held down can be moved through. The Cacao is actually going to assist things in coming up and then assist in working with them. If you are not in for that adventure, don’t bother. I suggest reading Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now book to help you understand the "pain body," as that is what will be coming up. On YouTube, you will find many Abraham-Hicks talks on depression. These are highly recommended.

Cacao for Autism, ADD, ADHD, OCD

Over the years, we have received much feedback from mothers using our Cacao for autism, ADD, ADHD, and OCD, as it works well as a focus enhancer. Significant positive behavioral change, especially in interacting with others, is usual. Many children will take a lightly rounded teaspoon of the chopped cacao block (about 5-7 g to start with), no sweetening, in the mouth - and like it.  

A small amount, depending on body weight, three times a day works well. A slightly rounded teaspoon of finely chopped or crumbled Cacao (1/4 to 1/2 oz = 7-14 g), taken twice a day, is a good starting amount for a child. Please don't give these kids just any Cacao, even if it is labeled ‘raw’ or ‘ceremonial.’ Most Cacao in the market contains a significant amount of caffeine, though the sellers won't tell you.  

Cacao can be a great partner and assistant, especially to parents who understand what many higher beings are saying, that autism is a choice to help stretch the boundaries that most adults have about what is and is not normal. When Cacao is not seen as a drug to fix the kids who have made this choice, that’s when it can help the most. Let us know your experiences.

Blessings and thanks! 

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