Cacao & Hemp - The Bliss Factor
Maya cacao god, Ek Chuah (photo by Thor Janson)
Cacao is the food of the Gods. Originated in the Amazon region more than 5,000 years ago, the image of cacao beans is found on potteries, which suggests that the Gods have given this black seed to mankind.
The Mayans cultivated the very first cacao farms in the Yucatan Peninsula in about 600 A.D. In their culture, the cacao pod was a symbol of life and fertility, which was why it was drawn on the stone carvings of palaces and temples. It was also traditionally used as an offering to the gods to bless the crops and the land.
Cacao became a royal drink in the last Aztec dynasty, it was not a dessert, but a bitter healthy drink made with cocoa, chili peppers, vanilla beans and spices, whipped and served in a golden cup. The word "chocolate" comes from the Mayan word "xocoatl", which means "bitter water".
There are different grades of cacao. The ceremonial cacao, also known as sacred cacao, were often used by the Mayans, Aztecs, and the modern Nahua culture. They used cacao in ceremonies and celebrations, especially at weddings, births, baptisms, funerals, religious gatherings and rituals.
After conquering Mexico, the Spanish navigator, Hernán Cortés, brought cacao beans back to Europe and presented them to the king. The king felt energized and refreshed after drinking it. At that time, the Spanish even added sugar to the cacao to make it a fragrant and sweet drink. Therefore, cacao became the favorite drink of Spanish nobles and officials, and it even became a royal product, which was the original chocolate drink.
Drinking cacao is a way to connect with plants in your daily life. Eating cacao gives your brain enough energy, to maintain good physical and mental health.
According to literature, cacao has over a hundred health benefits, including fighting off diseases, boosting energy, improving cardiovascular, liver, gastrointestinal and oral health. It is a diuretic and digestive aid, and can even boost mental energy and protect our skin. It can also activate the body's joy and healing factor, the endogenous cannabinoid "Anandamide".
Cacao has the same magical power as cannabis, it has a unique synergistic effect that can increase the concentration of anandamide in our body and slows down its metabolism, making you feel happy and joyful.
Cacao has such a wide range of health values because it is rich in phytonutrients that supply the body with sufficient amounts of energy to function, which is why it is considered a superfood.
Mineral - Magnesium
Magnesium is an important mineral for the human body that can improve heart health, promote bowel movements and energize the brain. At the same time, it is the most deficient element in our daily diet. However, cacao is rich in magnesium.
Cacao beans contain theobromine, which stimulates the central nervous system. Theobromine is more effective than the cough medicine codeine, that has side effects such as constipation and drowsiness. Therefore, theobromine has a stronger cough suppressant effect than conventional therapies, and it may also improve tooth decay.
Anandamide is a neurotransmitter, which is associated with emotions, memory, desire and pain perception, etc. Anandamide can bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and make people feel excited. Eating cacao will increase the amount of anandamide in the body. Cacao also contains anandamide inhibitors, which slow down the breakdown of anandamide by enzymes in the body, thus making the duration of excitement even longer.
Tryptophan is a mood enhancer. When it encounters magnesium, it binds with vitamin B and produces serotonin, which reduces anxiety and increases resistance to stress. However, tryptophan is easily disrupted by heat, and as a result, it is often insufficient in cooked foods. Therefore, eating cacao is an excellent way to obtain tryptophan.
色胺酸會使人心情愉悅，當它遇上體內的鎂後，會和維他命 B 結合並製造血清素，血清素能減少焦慮並增加抗壓力。然而，色胺酸遇熱易受破壞，導致熟食中往往缺乏色胺酸。因此，食用可可是攝取色胺酸的絕佳方式。
Cacao contains cocoa polyphenol, which is a very strong antioxidant. Studies have shown that after eating chocolate, the concentration of antioxidants in the body will be greatly increased, even better than the effects of red wine and green tea. Antioxidants can remove free radicals, which are closely related to DNA damage, premature aging, heart problems and cancer. At the same time, cocoa polyphenols also have many other benefits, including lifting the spirit, preventing periodontal disease, maintaining a healthy heart, and more.
可可含有可可多酚(cocoa polyphenol)，是極強抗氧化劑，有研究顯示，吃了朱古力後，體內的抗氧化劑濃度會大幅提升，甚至勝過紅酒和綠茶的效果。抗氧化劑能夠清除自由基，而自由基與 DNA 受損、提早老化、心臟 問題及癌症息息相關。同時，可可多酚還有很多功效，包括提振精神、預防牙周病、維持心臟健康等等。
Cacao and Cyanobacteria contain high levels of phenethylamine that can excite people and enhance focus and concentration. Phenethylamine is an alkaloid that acts as a central nervous system stimulant to create a feeling of being in love. This substance can make people feel confident and courageous in the process of falling in love without feeling exhausted. When the brain is filled with phenethylamine, presynaptic vesicles are the first to interact with phenethylamine, which then activates dopamine and increases its concentration, allowing people to concentrate and think positively.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI)
Cocoa contains enzyme inhibitors that regulate neurotransmitters, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) and other similar compounds, which may have anti-aging, anti-depressant and appetite reducing effects.
Monoamine oxidase (MAO) depletes or recycles neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. When we are young, large amounts of neurotransmitters could be easily produced which makes us happy. As we age, MAO becomes more active, thus reducing the concentration of neurotransmitters inside our body, causing us to feel depressed, irritable and speeding up the aging process. However, MAOI found in cacao can inhibit the MAO in the body and therefore increase the concentration of neurotransmitters, making cacao an excellent anti-aging and anti-depression food.
可可含有調節神經傳導物質的酵素抑制劑，例如單胺氧化酶抑制劑 (簡稱 MAOI，Monoamine oxidase inhibitor) 和其他類似化合物，這些物質可以抗衰老、抗憂鬱和降低食慾。
單胺氧化酶(簡稱 MAO)會消耗或回收血清素、多巴胺、腎上腺素和正腎上腺素等神經傳導物質。人類在年輕的時候能製造大量神經傳導物質，從而感到快樂。到了年老的時候，MAO 會越來越活躍，因而降低神經傳導物質的濃度，使我們感到憂鬱、脾氣更暴躁並加速老化。然而，可可中的 MAOI 能抑制體內的 MAO，使神經傳導物質濃度增加，所以可可是絕佳的抗衰老和抗憂鬱食品。
Cacao beans are rich in fatty acids, which is why chocolate is a fat-rich product. The special fatty acid in cacao can increase HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and lower LDL (low-density lipoprotein), to help maintain a healthy heart. Therefore, although cacao is high in calories, it is not likely to cause obesity.
可可豆中有大量的可可脂，所以朱古力是脂肪含量豐富的產品。可可中特殊的脂肪酸，有增加高密度膽固醇 HDL (High-density lipoprotein)、降低低密度膽固醇 LDL(Low-density lipoprotein)的功效，可以維持心臟健康。因此可可的熱量雖然高，卻不易造成肥胖。
Cacao and chocolate have become increasingly popular around the world, there are now many different types of chocolate and flavours, but there are only very few quality brands. Most of the commercial chocolates are loaded with sugar, fat or oil and flavor regulators, which are not good for health and could not bring out the magical properties of cacao.
Some of the brands commonly found in supermarkets do not only exploit farmers, they even use African slaves and child labours, which is highly unethical. Currently, 60% of the world's cacao comes from Ghana and the Ivory Coast, and it is estimated that 2.1 million children are enslaved to supply cacao beans to companies such as Cadbury and Nestle.
Those unscrupulous companies lack business ethics, yet their products are not as good as those made with heart and passion by small businesses. This is why we should always support local farmers and artisans, for a more sustainable land and environmental development.
Buying from indigenous-owned businesses, supporting small farmers, paying a fair wage, buying rare or heirloom varieties, supporting land conservation, and researching your materials are all ways to help cultivate equity in the cacao trade.
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*by local artisans Conspiracy Chocolate x Heavens Please