3.4.2 Cacao

Cacao #

Binomial / Botanical Name Theobroma Cacao
Street Names Cacao
Major Active Compound Theobromine; Anandamide; Caffeine; Phenylethylamine
Indigenous Source Mesoamerica; Amazon
Form Chunks
RoA Oral
Personal Rating On Shulgin Scale +


I had read about the psychoactive properties of cacao on many previous occasions, but given familiarity with the heavily processed products (chocolates) of which it was a primary ingredient I never really took this seriously. This includes on the occasion upon which I was foolish enough to snort chocolate itself.

However, what finally sold it to me was the increasing popularity of cacao ceremonies, within which it is frequently claimed to act as a stimulant, empathogen and all-round inducer of positive vibes. There are even claims that it bears some similarity to a weak MDMA experience, along with a number of caveats that the effects can vary substantially from person to person.

For onset and duration, research also indicates that it takes about half an hour for the early effects to emerge, and that these last for perhaps three or four hours.

Regarding the authenticity of my supply, the vendor was very specific:

“Yes, the cacao that we offer is Organic Ceremonial Cacao, that comes directly from the Ashaninka tribe in Peru, a tribe that focuses in cultivating their cacao with the highest organic standards involving tradition, culture and quality.”

With respect to dose this is quoted as being between 40g and 50g by a variety of online sources. I will go for the higher figure (specifically 56g).

Upon opening the package, the course chocolaty smell certainly hits. It is strong.

To prepare I grate the cacao onto a sheet of paper and then tip it into a mug, I add hot (not boiling) water, and stir it for a few minutes. I then sit and slowly contemplate/meditate, setting an intention of positivity, as is recommended. In the background I play some ceremonial cacao songs as found on YouTube, and I begin to sip (4pm).

Its taste is decent: a little bitter and not as nice as the sweet milk chocolate that I am used to, but pretty drinkable nonetheless. Three quarters of the way through I add some chilli-pepper as I have read somewhere that this helps to activate the cacao.

Ten minutes in it’s all gone. I now feel warm, relaxed and with a gentle clarity of mind and vision. Placebo; to a degree maybe, but whatever the reason I am in a better place than I was. I am also enjoying the music somewhat, so I watch the performance.

I realise that my disposition has changed, although what combination of cacao, process, placebo and intent is responsible I cannot confirm. I am quite enjoying the ride though, and after 20 minutes I remain physically warm and of positive mind.

The good vibrations persist as I play the cacao songs again. This is obviously not within MDMA territory, but whatever the specifics of the cause I am generally elevated in mood and there does appear to be an empathogenic tone in play.

After an hour I am a little on the weary side, but still in pleasant territory, and the ride slowly fades over the next couple of hours.

Overall I enjoyed this convoluted multi-element experience, and would probably do it again, preferably with company. Given the positive nature of the exercise I’m not sure that a scientific analysis matters too much, as I doubt that I could possibly untangle it.


During research I encountered a number of reports of club-goers snorting cacao in pursuit of a short term high. Given its constitution this definitely doesn’t appeal, particularly following the embarrassing episode described on the next page. To say I am reluctant is an understatement, but regardless, the next day I do snort a couple of small lines.

This immediately blocks my nose, as might be expected, but this soon clears.

Is there any effect? I am not 100% sure.

I feel a sort of clarity and warm headedness, like a less intense version of the above experience (noting that the dose is of course significantly lower). This could largely be the result of the snorting exercise itself: either sub-conscious association with insufflation, having snorted so many stimulants, or an auto-response to insufflating a foreign body. Or it could be the cacao.

The overall response has a mild pleasing edge, with mild being the operative word, although again the change in disposition is definite. Having stated this, it isn’t something I will repeat.

NOTE: One aspect for which I am relieved is that unlike on the occasion described in the anecdotal tale there was no pain.


I have a confession to make. I once snorted regular chocolate. In my defence; I wasn’t the only one.

Also, I was stoned at the time.

I came across this scene, as per the photograph, whilst wandering in Amsterdam. They provided everything, including snorters, chocolate lines and tissues. I found the latter to be most useful; as I spluttered and convulsed after the event.

Did it work? Did I get high?

It’s hard to say. The experience of attempting to snort a powdered chocolate bar into my lungs provided a jolt to my system, brought tears to my eyes, and sobered me up immediately. I’m not sure whether there was a rush or not, because I was fully engaged in recovery.

Never again.

NOTE:Chocolate has a significant amount of sugar. In addition to sugar, chocolate also has two other neuroactive drugs, caffeine and theobromine. Chocolate not only stimulates the opiate receptors in our brains, it also causes a release of neurochemicals in the brain’s pleasure centers. Chocolate, like other drugs, if used in excess can lead to negative health effects such as type II diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol. So this would indicate that chocolate can be a part of any discussion about legal drugs.” ~ The Open Society