What is Cacao?
Cacao was given the name of Theobroma by Linnaeus. The word literally means “food of the gods” because of delicious tastes of its seeds that left anyone who ate it at a loss for words. The Mexicans named these pounded seeds Chocolate. Its tree towers up to sixteen feet with a trunk that is approximately five feet long. The wood is predominantly white in color and is light, as opposed to its tall and huge size. The bark is brown and the small flowers are reddish.
With such diversity in its structure, Cacao is often perceived as having a strong odor. On the contrary, however, Cacao is almost odorless. The fruit is smooth and yellowish red with a white pulp. When its seeds finally become ripe, they rattle in their capsules whenever the fruit is shaken. Each capsule has approximately twenty-five seeds. Once the seeds are taken away from their capsules, they immediately become infertile. On the other hand, if they are kept inside the capsule, they remain fertile for a very long time. Cacao blooms all year round, but the usual season for gathering its fruit is June and December.
The preparation of Cacao is actually pretty simple. First, the beans must be grinded into a form of a paste with the use of hot rollers. With the hot rollers, mix in some sugar and a little bit of starch, removing some of the Cacao’s fat. Preparing Chocolate is quite similar except that the fat is kept instead of removed.
What are its medicinal uses?
Cacao is famously used as an ingredient in cosmetic ointments and also in various pharmacies as coating for pills and suppositories. Aside from its coating purposes, Cacao also has emollient properties that make it effective in softening and protecting chapped extremities and lips.
Theobromine, which is an alkaloid component of the beans, resembles the effect and action of caffeine. But as compared to caffeine, it has less powerful effects on the central nervous system. However, there are other body parts where the Cacao’s effects are quite pronounced, such as the kidneys, heart and the muscular system.
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