The cacao plant is a tree which is native to tropical America from Mexico to Chile, but also grown in Asia and Africa today.
Use: The seeds are fermented, roasted, degreased and ground.
Active constituents: Mainly theobromin, a chemical relative of caffeine.
Effects: In our western form of consumption using milk and sugar slightly stimulating. In Mexico during the time of the Aztecs cacao was originally prepared following a totally different recipe, for example with the use of chili-pepper. In this form it was supposed to have aphrodizing effects. If you want an idea of the original cacao-preparation, then try out the following recipe:
250 ml water
5 or more heaped tsp. cocoa powder
1–2 tsp. cinnamon
1–2 pinches of cardamom
1 pinch of ground cloves
the inner part of half a vanilla pod
chili-pepper according to taste
sugar, better honey, according to taste (about 4–6 tsp.)
Let it boil for five minutes; caution, it easily boils over. This drink makes me almost immediately pleasantly relaxed. Use only pure cocoa-powder of good quality. Cheap ones are of no use. Do not use readymade powdered cocoa-mixes or cocoa-drinks; they contain too little cocoa and too much sugar.
Side effects: In normal dosages none are known.
Suppliers: Groceries, fair-trade-shops, plants in the exotic plants trade.