Theobroma cacao


Theobroma cacao


Native to Central America, Cacao (Theobroma cacao) was used as a medicinal and religious beverage by the Aztecs and Mayans. Spanish conquistadors were responsible for its spread to Europe in the 1600s. The plant has long been beloved and valued. Swedish taxonomer Carl Linnaeus gave it the genus Theobroma, or “food of the gods,” and cacao was so valuable that it was used as currency in Mexico until the late 19th century. Cacao is a relative of cola and cotton, and it historically was considered to be an aphrodisiac.

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Traditional Health Benefits of Cacao

Heart Support, Energy Support, Beauty & Radiance Support, Brain & Cognitive Support

What is Cacao Used for?

Naturally bitter, Cacao is rich in antioxidants, and it’s a source of flavonoids and alkaloids, such as theobromine. It also contains caffeine. Theobromine is a natural stimulant, as is caffeine, so Cacao is often used to support healthy energy levels.*

View Important Precautions

Active Constituents of Cacao

Flavonoids, alkaloids, theobromine, caffeine

Parts Used


Additional Resources

1.) Vlachopoulos C, Aznaouridis K, Alexopoulos N, et al. Effect of dark chocolate on arterial function in healthy individuals. Am J Hypertens 2005;18:785-91. 2.) Flammer AJ, Hermann F, Sudano I, et al. Dark chocolate improves coronary vasomotion and reduces platelet reactivity. Circulation 2007;116:2376-82. 3.) Kris-Etherton, P. M. and Keen, C. L. Evidence that the antioxidant flavonoids in tea and cocoa are beneficial for cardiovascular health. Curr.Opin.Lipidol. 2002;13(1):41-49. 4.) Steinberg, F. M., Bearden, M. M., and Keen, C. L. Cocoa and chocolate flavonoids: implications for cardiovascular health. J Am.Diet.Assoc. 2003;103(2):215-223. 5.) Shiina, Y., Funabashi, N., Lee, K., Murayama, T., Nakamura, K., Wakatsuki, Y., Daimon, M., and Komuro, I. Acute effect of oral flavonoid-rich dark chocolate intake on coronary circulation, as compared with non-flavonoid white chocolate, by transthoracic Doppler echocardiography in healthy adults. Int J Cardiol. 1-24-2009;131(3):424-429. 6.) Spadafranca, A., Martinez, Conesa C., Sirini, S., and Testolin, G. Effect of dark chocolate on plasma epicatechin levels, DNA resistance to oxidative stress and total antioxidant activity in healthy subjects. Br.J Nutr 2010;103(7):1008-1014.

Important Precautions

If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs please consult your doctor prior to use.


This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

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