For hundreds of years, essential oils have been used as natural treatments for health conditions. Cacao essential oil is no exception. So, just what is it? Is it related to cocoa or chocolate?
Where Does Cacao Come From?
Many delicious treasures originate from Theobroma cacao , an evergreen tree native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. Theobroma is Latin for “Food of the Gods.” The large seeds of the fruit pods are called cacao (or cocoa) beans; many civilizations have used them as sources of nourishment and medicine for over 2,000 years. In ancient times, cacao was consumed and used as offerings during religious rituals of the Mayans and Aztecs, including engagement and marriage ceremonies. Beverages containing cacao were offered at these events in much the same manner as champagne is today. This drink was believed to increase pleasure and stimulate sexual performance.
Cacao refers to the purest, least-processed form of the dried beans, which can be reduced to smaller pieces called cacao nibs. These cacao nibs contain over 300 different chemical compounds, including powerful flavonoid antioxidants. Most edible chocolate is made from further processing the nibs, including roasting, fermenting, and grinding nibs to form chocolate liquor. This non-alcoholic “liquor,” or its products (cocoa, cocoa powder, and cocoa butter), are the major ingredients in chocolate.
What Is Cacao Used For?
Chocolate liquor or cocoa powder is used to form a thick, creamy paste, which can be combined with vanilla, sugar, butter, milk, and a variety of nuts, fruit, and other enticing tidbits. In this form, we can recognize our beloved chocolate, the most luxurious of treats! Unfortunately, high levels of processing destroy most of the healthy compounds found in cacao nibs before the chocolate bar is produced.
Cacao absolute is made from raw cacao beans. These retain the natural chemicals that have earned chocolate the reputation of being a “superfood.” This extremely concentrated extract from raw cacao beans has multiple health benefits and medicinal properties.
Raw cacao contains molecules that decrease anxiety and depression while lifting spirits and sexual desires. Cacao essential oil is a well-known aphrodisiac. This is largely due to the presence of some of the same compounds that our brains produce, and the stimulation of others, that are used as chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters (NTs). 1
-One of these is anandamide, an NT involved with motivation and feelings of pleasure and happiness. Cacao is one of the only foods known to contain this pleasure molecule!
-Another NT found in cacao is phenylethylamine (PEA), 1 also known as “the love molecule.” It is naturally produced in the brain when we fall in love and is associated with the euphoric “cloud 9” feeling.
-Finally, cacao is a good source of compounds that increase endorphin and serotonin levels in the brain. Endorphins are natural opiates that decrease pain and stress while providing a natural high feeling. Serotonin is an NT that contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness.
No wonder chocolate has long been associated with love, pleasure, happiness, and Valentine’s Day !
Besides smelling delicious, seductive, and intoxicating, cacao has other benefits. Luxurious and complex cacao essential oil is full of molecules that can improve your mood and increase pleasurable experiences. For many, the aroma calls to mind sweet comfort, indulgence, and cheerful memories. So why stop at eating chocolate? Take advantage of every manner in which cacao can stimulate and satisfy your appetites.
The indulgent aroma will transport you with friendly notes of rich chocolate as it warms you with vanilla alongside a provocative scent of peppermint. This sensual triad lends itself to a delightful mixing with Love's fourth ingredient, orange. The blend is an extravagant treat in its own right, but it pairs perfectly with edible chocolate, roses, wine, bubble baths, candlelight, and soft music. It also makes a heavenly gift you will be tempted to keep for yourself.