Can you get high from cacao?
So it is 2 o’clock in the afternoon and I am reading on the I Fucking Love Science (IFLS) blog last week that ravers are getting high from cacao at the monthly Lucid dance event in Berlin. It said, “More recently, a number of rave venues across Europe and the US have begun offering the substance in the form of powder, pills or as a drink.”. According to OZY, the sensation is meant to be, “a surge of endorphins into your bloodstream, which increases acuity and fuels you with feelings of euphoria. Then there’s the flood of magnesium, which relaxes your muscles and de-tenses your body. Raw cacao is also chock-full of flavanols that increase blood circulation and stimulate brain power…”
By this time of day I am usually in a mental slump after a morning at my desk. Again, usually I’d have had a cup of decaf espresso to give me a lift (I know its technically “decaf” but I shall get to that later) and drag my unwilling mind into the afternoon’s slog… Instead I feel quite bright and am blasting off this blog with two cups of cacao inside me.
Cacao differs from processed cocoa from the likes of Green and Blacks or Clipper. It is the product of raw, fermented cacao beans – nothing else.
History of cacao
Cacao was apparently used by ancient native American cultures such as the Maya to get people high in ceremonies. How is unknown – the first the West knew of the Mayans was when the Conquistadors went in to steal their gold and lay waste to everything else. Let’s face it – to the Mayans the Spanish arrival was the end of the world, and given their religious and murderous fervour the Spanish didn’t exactly cooperate and exchange ideas with their victims.
Here are a few things known to scientists. According to IFLS, “it contains endorphins as well as a chemical called tyrosine, which is a precursor to dopamine. Since both endorphins and dopamine are natural neurotransmitters known to induce feelings of pleasure, it’s unsurprising that people have been reporting that snocolate helps to elevate their mood.”
The Daily Mail added, “The chocolate also contains high amounts of magnesium which relaxes your muscles.”
It is thought that epicatechin, a plant chemical particularly abundant in dark chocolate, gives the body a boost by widening the blood vessels.”
My turn on the cacao…
During my days of trying anything but opiates in the 1990’s, I never banged anything up my nose. Even writing for The Trip Report I’m not about to change that rule! Instead I will avoid what some users have been doing to try and get high from cacao and drink this stuff when in a mental slump.
I should add that I am a lightweight when it comes to drugs of any kind. EU regulations on the strength of decaf coffee dictate that it should be no more than 3mg per 150ml of coffee as against caffeinated coffee, which sits at around 85mg / 150ml. For me, decaf gives me a lift and I start twitching and winking if I have a full strength espresso at the wrong time of day.
Reading through the literature, cacao is also fat soluble. In preparing for this blog I was looking at making it in my espresso machine yet read stories of how it could wreck its inner workings while not getting the cacao to mix with the water. The best way to administer it seems to be in full fat milk, something that the internet seems to think the Mayans didn’t do.
The accepted recipe on the internet is:
- 1/2 cup raw cocoa beans
- 2 medium sized dried chillies
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup cornmeal
- 6-8 cups water
Essentially you roast the beans, peel and crush them, add the cinnamon and chilli, and mix into a paste with water. Add hot water and drink the foul tasting concoction.
The Mayans built large, beautiful cities and mapped out the observable universe as part of their religion. They also bred potatoes and tomatoes from deadly nightshade, and I am unwilling to believe that a civilisation of this sophistication could not discover that cacao is lipid soluble, and to get a good hit you can mix it in goats or cows milk.
My recipe for cacao
- 1 cup cow’s milk
- 2 tbsp. raw cacao powder
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
- In a small mixing bowl, stir together cacao and spices.
- Adding a small amount of the milk, whisk into a paste.
- In a saucepan, heat remaining milk slowly over medium heat, making sure to remove just before boiling.
- Slowly add the paste to the saucepan and simmer until slightly thickened.
- Finally pour into a mug and enjoy
Shortly after my first cup I noticed overtones of nutmeg and cinnamon with a Madras level kick of cayenne, with a warm undertone of chocolate and a coffee level of bitterness. Chilli kick disappears after a few minutes.
Added two sugars to balance bitterness.
After lunch I did it without cayenne so it was a nutmeggy, cinnamon cocoa.
So.. Can you get high from cacao?
Go in with an open mind and don’t believe the hype about this disgustingly tasting bitter drink. You will be pleasantly surprised – it is a complex, flavoursome drink. If you like dark chocolate I’d suggest you give it a try especially when its claimed that small amounts can help people with diabetes.
As to the stimulation? I like this lift. I feel fresh, clear headed and lightly energised. But for the fact its lift is similar to espresso yet you require double the amount as well as roughly 10 minutes to put it together (double that of espresso) I’d consider it as a healthy replacement to my usual.
One last comparison…
Let’s look at the comparisons between snorting cocaine and swallowing it from a drug users’ forum:
One guy who snorted and had swallowed it said, “it is much quicker to insufflate it and produces a much quicker stronger high.” With regards swallowing, he said, “it takes a lot more cocaine if you choose to ingest rather than insufflate to get the desired high.”
If you snort cacao then you will probably get a much better hit than I have from my hipster’s energy drink. This is beceause the raw cacao passes through your nasal membranes and into your brain very quickly.
Given that no one has yet died of cacao snorting, if you want to give it a go there’s nothing stopping you but do not expect effects even close to anything else you would put up there. Consider it a brain booster, nootropic if you wish.
I do know the government would have 35 million women marching on Parliament should they try to ban cacao. Since even 35 women deprived of their chocolate fix would scare the pants off me (let alone a million times that). I would think that this is a legal high that the authorities will not attempt to ban.
This article was originally written in English, If you see any errors please email us at words@The-TripReport.com