That chocolate is a magical drug is something that every woman knows. It can nurse you through any kind of heartbreak, it can make you fall in love (provided someone buys you enough of it) and it helps you cope with the everyday stress of a million things. No wonder then that chocolate gifts are something that work for any occasion. But is it just a delicious treat that makes you feel good or is there some serious magic at work here?
The ancient Mayans who are credited with first discovering and cultivating cacao beans, the source of chocolate certainly thought so. Archaeological evidence shows that chocolate in liquid form was used in a number of different ceremonies. It was important for baptisms and marriage ceremonies. It was served as an offering to the Gods and also to the deceased. At certain times in history its use was restricted only to those who ranked high in their societies – priests, officials and royalty. The Aztec’s regarded chocolate as an aphrodisiac and their Emperor, Montezuma reputedly drank it fifty times a day.
What is interesting is that research in medicine is now backing up the theory that chocolate actually makes you feel good. When you bite into a bar of your favourite chocolate there is a cocktail of compounds that affects your brain. Here are a few of them and their effects:
- Tryptophan and serotonin: They create feelings of relaxation and well-being.
- Caffeine: This psychoactive substance creates temporary alertness.
- Xanthines: This mild stimulant occurs naturally in the brain and, like caffeine, increases wakefulness.
- Theobromine: This stimulant and vasodilator increases blood flow.
- Phenylethylamine: This compound stimulates the brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and motivation.
- Anandamide: This neurotransmitter activates pleasure receptors in the brain.
- Flavonols: These compounds boost blood flow to key areas of the brain for two to three hours after being metabolized, creating effects similar to those of a mild analgesic (painkiller) like aspirin.
But despite all the research there is something spiritual in the way we connect with chocolate which simply cannot be explained by a chemical reaction. Which is something that would explain the increasing popularity of the Cacao Ritual or The Cacao ceremony.
The Cacao ceremony which uses raw, unsweetened, unadulterated, form of the cacao beans is an intense chocolate experience which has the potential to open your heart and assist in deep emotional release. Participants in a ceremony partake of a specially concocted cacao elixir which uses spices and other ingredients. At a typical ceremony they are then guided into a meditative state and the facilitators may use various drum/rattle techniques to deepen the journey. Healing spirit songs and mantras are also used to guide the energy of the ceremony.
If you are interested in exploring this further you can search online for the next cacao ceremony happening near you. For those who want to experience the chocolate high right now you can go out and grab some delicious chocolate. Or better still share the magic and the love by gifting someone some chocolate!
About the Author
Saurabh Mittal, Founder ChocoCraft, is an entrepreneur by trade and an adventurer by heart. He is fascinated by all things chocolate and loves sharing interesting ideas and information on the subject. When not making chocolate gifts he loves to hike in the mountains.
ChocoCraft is a firm that specialized in made to order chocolate gifts for all occasions – Weddings, Corporate Gifts, Birth Announcements, Birthdays and Anniversaries. They create beautiful printed chocolates with photos, text or any design printed on them with edible ink.