What Is Ceremonial Grade Cacao?
Ceremonial grade cacao is a plant that has been getting a great deal of attention recently so I thought I’d lay down some facts – what is ceremonial grade cacao and what makes it so special?! I use cacao during my yoga retreats and wellbeing workshops and it’s something people always have a very positive response with.
Ceremonial grade cacao, simply put, is cacao that is pure enough to use in ceremony. It is not cacao powder, or cocoa, and definitely not chocolate!
Let’s take a step back…Cacao seeds come from a small, tropical American tree and are used to make cocoa, cocoa butter and of course, chocolate. So what’s the difference I hear you ask?! It’s simple – cacao is a completely unprocessed product that comes straight from the plant. Cocoa is what’s produced after the fermentation process has happened. Chocolate is then produced using tonnes of added sugar. Because cacao is completely unprocessed, all the amazing benefits of the seeds remain intact.
There are SO many products on the market, it can be a little confusing to know if you are buying the right thing, but if you just make sure what you’re buying clearly specifies that the cacao inside the pack is ceremonial grade (and please do also make sure that you are buying from a reputable, sustainable company) then you are on to a winner.
The cacao has a long history of cultivation by the Mesoamerican and South American cultures, such as the Mayans and Aztecs. It has been used in sacred ceremonies, rituals, offerings to the gods and as currency.
An incredibly healthy plant, these are just some of the physical benefits of the cacao:
- It has more antioxidants than blueberries and is one of the most effective superfoods at absorbing free radicals
- It has over 300 vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids
- It helps to regulate glucose and blood sugar production
- It lowers blood pressure.
- It is rich in fibre
- It improves blood flow to the brain and the heart
- The flavonoids, amino acids and antioxidants in cacao release the neurotransmitters we call the ‘bliss molecules’ – serotonin, dopamine and anandamide.
As you can see, the ancient cultures who called this plant a ‘heart opening’ medicine were not at all wrong considering the effect of increased blood flow!
Along with all the physical benefits of the cacao seed, there are many reported spiritual ones too. It is said to heighten meditation, bringing clarity of mind; to open the heart, and find peace; to develop your creativity and imagination, and to increase your energy and focus.
The main active ingredient in cacao is theobromine which translates as ‘food of the gods’. This is the ingredient that gives cacao it’s stimulating effect which is why many people recommend it instead of coffee. Unlike coffee however, the ‘high’ from theobromine is gentle and remains on a nice even level – much like cannabis – which means you don’t get the jitters like you would with caffeine.
I have entirely swapped my morning coffee with cacao as caffeine began to affect me more and more adversely. Breaking my fast with cacao on the other hand makes me feel alert, centred, open-hearted and comforted. Asides from all the physical and spiritual benefits of cacao, just the very act of preparing your plant medicine every morning is a form of mindfulness. This is definitely not opening the top of a jar of instant coffee! To prepare this drink you need to take your time, to be present to the process, and that in itself is a spiritual act.
All in all, there really isn’t much not to like about the cacao, although I will caveat that by saying that if you are going to drink it every day, you must take it in smaller doses (about 17-20g) than you would during ceremony (more like 42g).
So there is a concise answer to the question of what is ceremonial grade cacao. If you would like to experience this beautiful plant medicine in sacred ceremony, please check out my website for upcoming events.