Theobroma cacao Sterculiaceae Also called Chocolate tree.
Reaching an average height 1 4-5m, the cacao tree is a native of ccrltral America. It bears leaves,.flowers and frllit all year rOllnd. Its small reddish flowers grow on the slliface oj the trunk and branches, and the pods grow directly on the bark. They co/1tain white pulp and 20-40 seeds - the cacao beans.
The beans are made up of between 40 to 60 per cent solid fat - the cacao butter. This is composed of fatty acids (palmitic, stearic and oleic acids) and triglycerides. The levels of these compounds vary according to where the cacao is grown. The beans also contain the stimulants theobromine and caffeine, plus proteins, flavonoids, minerals (mainly magnesium), and polyphenols and procyanidins, both of which combat E'xcessive free radicals. Fermenting the bean releases their aroma.
Suscepitable individuals may find that cacao triggers migraines.
Cacao may cause constipation.
Consult a doctor before using cacao if you are taking prescribed drugs, especially monoamine oxidase inhibitors (antidepressants) and theophylline, a bronchiodilator.
Do not use if you suffer from an inflammatory bowel condition or heart disorder.
Although regarded mainly as a delicious food, cacao is also a tonicit appears to boost serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain, which has an uplifting effect.
The flavonoids in cacao also benefit the circulatory system. In 2000, American scientists showed that they help to combat the formation of blood clots and have a blood-thinning aspirin-like effect.
The anti-inflammatory action of procyanidin was illustrated by an in vitro study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2000. Used externally, cacao butter is recommended as a treatment for rough skin, sore nipples (caused by breastfeeding) and chapped lips.
For internal use
As cacao (or chocolate) is not a component of any pharmaceutical preparation, it is up to the individual to decide how much to consume.
For external use
TO TREAT dry rough skin, chapped lips CACAO BUTTER Apply four or five times a day, as required.
IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST CONSULT A DOCTOR
The cacao tree thrives only in hot climates. where it prefers a fertile, well-drained moist soil and a shady position.
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