Cacao and adhd | Cacao benefits | Cacao health | Ceremonial cacao | Plant medicine | Productivity
Chocolate has long been associated with love, gratification, and feeling good. There is a good reason for that. Real chocolate – that is, pure, minimally processed Ceremonial Grade Cacao – is an excellent source of scientifically-proven natural happiness chemicals. Including the "love molecule" itself - the phenomenal phenylethylamine!
Phenylethylamine, or PEA for short, is a small molecule found in some algae, fungi, bacteria, and Cacao. Produced naturally during the fermentation of the Cacao beans, PEA is heat-sensitive and is retained only in pure, minimally-processed Cacao, such as Keith's 100% Pure Ceremonial Grade Cacao Paste and Beans.
PEA is also present in the brains of humans and other mammals, where it acts as a neurotransmitter, known as the brain's primary love chemical. Like its α-methylated derivative, amphetamine, PEA has stimulant effects, which lead to the release of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. It is this impact on the levels of all these "feel-good hormones" which makes PEA a phenomenal mood improver. It has been described as "an immediate shot of happiness, pleasure, and emotional well-being"(i), and its effects as "feeling happier, more alive and even having a better mood and attitude"(ii).
PEA is the brain's primary love chemical. When we're attracted to someone, we get a rush of this endogenous (natural or 'built-in') amphetamine, which along with endorphins and other opium-like neurochemicals, hit our pleasure centers. And when PEA is released in the brain, it, in turn, releases norepinephrine and dopamine, producing the euphoric effect often associated with a "runner's high" or the feeling of being on top of the world we get when we fall in love.
PEA is also directly associated with sexual arousal and pleasure. Acting as a potent antidepressant, PEA significantly rises when we are experiencing romance; and when we orgasm!
No wonder chocolate is so inextricably associated with love and romance. For, while there are many natural foods that boost libido and enhance sexual function, it is only real chocolate - aka Ceremonial Cacao - that promotes the brain chemistry of being "in love."
In fact, according to a British study conducted by the Mind Lab, greater stimulation was seen in the brains of both men and women while eating dark chocolate than while engaged in a passionate kiss! And this was with commercial chocolate. Imagine what the readings would be like if the chocolate melting in their mouth was Keith's Pure Ceremonial Grade Cacao!
Serious biohackers are probably familiar with PEA through its most famous promoter Dr. Alexander Shulgin and his book, 'PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story.' PiHKAL is short for "Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved"! With such a significant effect on our brain chemistry, it would make sense for biohackers to have PEA at the top of their nootropic supplement choices.
However, despite its stimulant and mood-enhancing qualities, PEA's effects are typically very short-lived. The only way to prolong its effects is to complement it with a monoamine oxidase-B inhibitor (MAOI). And this is where the magic of Pure Ceremonial Cacao comes in!
Cacao is unique in nature, as it is the only psychoactive plant with the full package of both PEA and MAO inhibitors. MAO inhibitors ensure that these PEA and other neurotransmitters circulate in the bloodstream and remain in the brain for longer. Monoamine oxidase also metabolizes serotonin and dopamine. Therefore blocking (or inhibiting) MAO is essential to allow PEA's primary effects of reducing depression and supporting feelings of well-being. That is why MAO inhibitors have long been featured in antidepressant pharmaceutical medication.
This fantastic synergy of MAO inhibitors and neurotransmitters in Ceremonial Cacao may explain the mystery and magic behind the centuries-long reverence of this plant medicine and its use - despite not being a psychedelic like Ayahuasca or Huachuma - within the shamanic tradition.
Low PEA levels have been linked to several neurological diseases. People with insufficient PEA have been found to have increased chances of ADHD, addiction, mood decline, diminished memory, declining energy levels, and developing Parkinson’s Disease.
The phenylethylamine in Ceremonial Cacao boosts brain health and function in several ways.
• It induces the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, thus turning up, so to speak, the volume of neuron activity.
• This higher concentration of these neurotransmitters is what increases feelings of pleasure, boosts motivation, heightens creativity, and improves memory and cognition. It also reinforces impulse control.
• By naturally maintaining and regulating neuronal activity - Preventing both over- or under-stimulation - PEA prevents metabolic dysfunction and neurological disorders.
• As a neurotransmitter, PEA looks and acts similar to amphetamines, producing effects typically associated with taking a stimulant. But because PEA is endogenous to the brain, it doesn’t have the side effects and tolerance of amphetamines.
• It improves libido and regulates social behavior.
• It is currently being studied for use in the treatment of ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, and cognitive dysfunctions like brain fog and poor concentration. It also looks promising for treating addiction and eating disorders.
• Since it helps food cravings subside, it is also a valuable aid for weight control.
• PEA can help kick the caffeine habit without withdrawal symptoms.
• It allows for a more intense and focused workout and better overall performance.
• It is a great study aid because it helps reduce anxiety and stress while providing more motivation, a better mood, an easier-to-maintain focus, and more energy.
Chocolate has long been associated with depression. According to the Psychiatric Times, almost half (45%) of patients in depressed episodes report craving chocolate, and many believe that it relieves feelings of anxiety and irritability. Their article suggests that "consumption of dark chocolate may be associated with reduced odds of clinically relevant depressive symptoms." The antidepressant effects of "dark chocolate" are attributed to its flavanol, theobromine, anandamide, and PEA content. Pure Ceremonial Grade Cacao is, of course, the only "dark chocolate" with a high concentration of all of the above. (You can read about theobromine in our blog, Theobromine: Cacao's Super Stimulant).
Depression is purportedly the 2nd leading cause of disability among ages 15–44. A United Nations report predicts that by 2030, it will be the leading cause of disability worldwide. Depression is typically treated with prescribed meds. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) are the most popular antidepressant prescribed worldwide, even though they are slow to act and come with a host of side effects. PEA -and Cacao- may prove to be a better alternative. This seems to be the conclusion of a study published in The Journal of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics, which suggests that "PEA may be a safer treatment for depression than SSRIs."
Similarly, in a study published by The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, researchers report that PEA "increases attention and activity" and "has been shown to relieve depression in 60% of depressed patients." This relief was "sustained in a significant number of patients, including some unresponsive to the standard treatments. PEA improves mood as rapidly as amphetamine but does not produce tolerance.”
Smithsonian Magazine reminds us that "Healers Once Prescribed Chocolate as Asprin"! From Mesoamerica to Renaissance Europe, chocolate has been used in medicine since at least the 1500s to treat a range of ailments. Aztecs and European doctors alike have also used Cacao - or chocolate - to deliver other drugs. Today, psychologist and Keith's Cacao Practitioner Tina Rosgaard uses Cacao as a tool in her therapeutic practice. Her clients feel secure and held by the "good-feeling" state that Cacao induces, which allows them to open up from within. Cacao "facilitates that space for the healing to happen".
Between 2016 and 2019, a total of 6 million children in the United States were diagnosed with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (iii). In 2013, the number of children on medication for the disorder was 3.5 million (iv). One of the main culprits contributing to ADHD symptoms is a lack of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Prescription drugs are given to boost the levels of these two critical neurotransmitters. The most commonly prescribed of these is the addictive, amphetamine-containing, and most frequently abused Adderall.
Could Cacao be the alternative? Like ADHD stimulant meds, the PEA in Cacao prevents the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine and inhibits their transport. It binds to the TAAR1 receptor - a high-affinity receptor for amphetamine, methamphetamine, and dopamine - altering monoamine transporter function. This leads to the inhibition of the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine, and thus to an increase in their synaptic concentrations. This is how Cacao gives the brain a dopamine boost.
Some naturopaths are beginning to prescribe Cacao as a substitute to stimulant meds. The PEA in Cacao provides the dopamine the brain needs and does not produce a crash when it wears off. Keith's Cacao drinkers with ADHD or ADD have reported improvement in their mood, attention span, focus, and mental clarity.
Her ADHD prescription meds made Australian-based yoga teacher Sarah Simmonds feel drugged and obsessive. By contrast, since switching to Keith's Cacao, which she drinks on a daily basis, she reports feeling calmer and more productive. Her mind is less chaotic, her brain less foggy. And this has also allowed her creativity to come through. "There is a stillness and a clarity instead of the chaos of rapid thoughts."
Are you ready to bring Ceremonial Cacao into your life and benefit from the phenomenal effects of phenylethylamine? Before heading to our Shop, check out our other articles on Ceremonial Cacao, its various uses, benefits, and more interesting facts, all on Keith's Cacao Blog.
If you are on prescription meds for depression or ADHD, please consult with your physician before consuming Ceremonial Cacao.