Cocoa is a product that is recognized all over the world. Its unique taste hits almost every taste. It is an ingredient in many traditional cakes and desserts. Most often, however, it is found in the form of paste (cocoa blocks) or powder. Ceremonial cocoa, apart from its fantastic taste, has many other advantages, but this article will be about its secrets.
Eating a few pieces of cocoa or chocolate clearly improves your mood. That is why we are happy to reach for them in stressful situations or moments of depressed mood.
To answer this question, we must go back to the very beginning of the process of creating ceremonial cocoa. Now let's move on to the tropical forests of South America. It is here on plantations, in hot and wet climates that cocoa trees grow. Cocoa is a tree reaching up to 15 meters in height. Its fruits, resembling the shape of an American football ball, contain from 20-60 cocoa beans. Cocoa beans are the beginning of the whole process and are responsible for the mysterious psychoactive effects of cocoa. Cocoa trees originally come from countries such as Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela. Plants like the equatorial climate. Today they are eagerly grown in African countries such as Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. And even in Asian countries such as Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Malaysia.
Cocoa beans have an interesting and mysterious substance. It is anandamide. It owes its name to "ananda", the Sanskrit term "happiness, pleasure, joy and delight". Anandamide  is one of the most important endocannabinoids, compounds produced in the body that bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and other parts of the body. Cannabinoids, on the other hand, are psychoactive substances found in high concentrations in marijuana.
After the discovery of anandamide, scientists began to look for cannabinoid receptors and discovered that the human body is filled with them! In addition to being found in several areas of the brain, they have been found in the central nervous system, heart, liver, spleen, pancreas, skin, white blood cells, reproductive organs, and in the gastrointestinal and urinary tract.
Anandamide plays a role in movement control, pain and appetite. It acts as a regulator that keeps the brain and body in a state of balance, called homeostasis. The endocannabinoid system, which includes anandamide, provides protection against stress-related mental illnesses, including major depression, generalized anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It can therefore be said that anandamide is our natural substance of happiness and mental balance, the deficiencies of which we can supplement by consuming cocoa bean products. Now the term "Food of the gods" takes on a new meaning.
Ground cocoa beans are called the "food of the gods" by local peoples inhabiting plantation areas. Raw cocoa contains a huge amount of vitamins and minerals such as iron, chromium, magnesium, zinc or potassium. It is rich in large amounts of antioxidants. Substances that protect the body's cells from the influence of free radicals. These include flavonoids. Their healing properties are invaluable. They have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects, reduce the mutagenic activity of tumors. In addition, there are many indications that flavonoids contribute to reducing the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease. Large amounts of magnesium are one of the reasons for the psychoactive effects of cocoa. Magnesium has an antidepressant effect, naturally improves well-being and reduces the feeling of stress.
Cocoa beans also contain other substances with psychoactive effects. It is worth mentioning that this is a rather subtle action, eating even very large amounts of chocolate will not cause the effect of intoxication. Cocoa is a source of psychoactive substances such as caffeine, theobromine, phenylethylamine (PEA), tryptophan or theophylline. The effects of caffeine are more or less known to everyone. Theobromine  works slightly differently. It stimulates the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system, causing a rapid decrease in blood pressure. It has anti-inflammatory effects and contributes to long-term healthy sleep. The next substance has a lot to do with dreams and memories.
Phenylethylamine improves cognitive functions by stimulating the secretion of acetylcholine, the high level of which improves memory. The biggest benefit of using phenylethylamine is that this compound has a positive effect on improving mood and improving cognitive functions. Therefore, it is recommended mainly to people suffering from depression. It is also successfully used in therapies for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. Another noteworthy substance that affects cognitive function is tryptophan. Tryptophan (also called L-trypropane) is an amino acid that acts as a natural mood regulator, has the ability to help the body naturally produce and balance certain hormones. Supplementing with foods rich in tryptophan or taking supplements helps to achieve natural sedative effects, induces sleep, fights anxiety.
 Mechoulam R, Fride E (1995). The unpaved road to the endogenous brain cannabinoid ligands, the anandamides. Cannabinoid receptors. Boston: Academic Press. pp. 233–258. ISBN 978-0-12-551460-6
 Bradley E. Alger PNAS June 8, 2004 101 (23) 8512-8513; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0402935101
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