Cacao is an amazing plant medicine. It contains high levels of antioxidants, highest plant source of iron, elevates the mood, high in magnesium, more calcium than cows milk, protects the heart and provides an energy boost. In Peru, cacao has been used for thousands of years in ceremony. It activates and opens the heart centre, providing the receiver with a beautiful euphoric feeling allowing them to channel love, connect with spiritual wisdom, guides and higher self, facilitates emotional healing and meditation practices and so much more. It truly is a beautiful plant spirit gifted to us by Gaia.
In saying all of that, cacao, just like any other plant, is a medicine. Some plant medicines more potent than others, some provided by Gaia for occasional purposes and others for regular use. Cacao is a plant provided for ceremonial and spiritual use, not every day. Of all the wonderful health benefits of cacao, it does have a side to be respected. A powerful plant that demands conscious use.
In Chinese medicine, we recognise something called Jing or 'essence'. This essence we get when we are born. It is a combination of half from your father and half from your mother. Some are born with more Jing than others and this is ultimately one of the deciding factors in the length of your life. It is stored in the kidneys/adrenals and governs the reproductive system, bones, marrow and our reserve energy. We are born with all the Jing we will ever have. You cannot make more Jing or replace what is lost. The Jing controls the ageing process. Once all your Jing is gone, the physical body dies. Jing is very precious as you can now see. It keeps us grounded, sharp and balanced. The only control we have over the Jing we are born with is how we use it and how we reserve it.
Jing is expended most quickly by the use of recreational drugs, caffeine, alcohol, stress, high intensity exercise, excessive mental stimulation, fatigue, poor diet, toxins and trauma. Jing is your reserve energy. If you are tired, stressed and depleted of Qi you will be dipping into your reserve energy to keep yourself going. The most common use of Jing is by those who cannot function without coffee. Coffee dips into the reserve energy to give you that false boost to get you through the day. When Jing is depleted, the skin will be dry, body tired, mind unsettled, you age faster, sleep is poor and you always need something to 'pep you up'.
Cacao has a similar effect. It dips into our Jing and uses reserve energy for its purpose. This is why cacao was gifted to us as a special ceremonial plant. It is powerful and profound but in order to be so, it must use up reserve energy. The use of the reserve energy is small but accumulative. If you think about the traditional users of cacao, they were not engaging in high intensity workouts, stressful jobs, expending precious energy all day from dawn to dusk. This is the way of the Western world and it is why we must be particularly careful of things that dip into our Jing.
Another thing to be aware of with the use of cacao is if you are prone to insomnia/poor sleep, anxiety, overactive mind, feeling ungrounded, chronic fatigue, adrenal fatigue, menstrual irregularities or absence,
vivid dreams that disturb sleep, excessive sweating or night sweats, you should be especially careful in the frequency of its use and regularly supplement with tonic herbs like reishi which calms the heart and spirit.
Rule of thumb: any plant or substance that provides noticeable and quick boosts of energy and mood elevation is probably dipping into your Jing. Plants and substances that help the body preserve and create energy and elevate moods over time (adaptogenic/tonic herbs) protect the Jing. Some of my favourite tonic herbs are reishi, ashwaganda, he shou wu, schizandra and bee pollen.
So keep enjoying your cacao once or twice a week, use it to facilitate ceremony and spiritual healing, but please respect this beautiful plant medicine and her spirit just like you would with any other.