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Afrikan Theobroma: Mental and physical health benefits of a 21st-century party drug

July 18, 2019 at 09:51 am | Opinions & Features

Nii Ashaley Asé Ashiley

Nii Ashaley Asé Ashiley | Staff Writer

July 18, 2019 at 09:51 am | Opinions & Features

Cocoa beans and cocoa powder. Image source: sunshinemarket.co.th

Theobroma is the Latin word for ‘Food of the Gods’. This was the title given the cocoa plant by occupants of Mesoamerica during the 16th century. The Mayans, Aztecs and other advanced civilization of present-day South America are credited with the initial plantation of the cocoa plant, this they used for nutritional, health, religious and recreational purposes.

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A map showing the cultural areas of Mesoamerica.
Image source: themaparchive.com

Some scholars argue that cocoa was introduced to the Afrikan continent by the coming of Western adventurers during the 14th and 15th centuries, whilst others are of the belief that ancient Afrikan merchants whose economic responsibilities ferried them around the world came home with cocoa pods.

In the pre-independence West Afrikan country of Ghana, Tetteh Quarshie is claimed to have introduced cocoa to the nation and today, Ghana features as the second-largest cocoa-producing country in the world with an estimated production tonnage of 835,446. The West Afrikan nation of Ivory Coast, however, is the world-leading cocoa producer, producing an estimated 1,448,992 tonnes of cocoa according to Worldatlas.

The beginning of the 21st century saw the presence of global youthful populace whose desire was to be free from the conventional way of doing things, as well as the needless hardships of life and living. But living within a world that is actually governed by conventions made their physical escape almost impossible; thus they turned to the excessive use of stimulants and other brain-altering substances in the likes of; cocaine, methamphetamine (crystal meth), ecstasy and speed in order to achieve the much sought-after mental escape. These laboratory-manufactured substances, however, have taken a negative toll on the health and quality of life of the youth in question, and so the more enlightened ones have turned to a healthier drug to stimulate their party-driven lifestyle.

In ‘Why Snorting Cacao Could Be the Next Big Party Drug’, Yenisey (2016) argues that; ‘In fact, cacao as a party drug is so popular in Western Europe, that it’s a common substitute for alcohol and other illegal drugs like ecstasy…and there is even a monthly party in Berlin called Lucid that is dedicated to getting party-goers…” make use of cocoa as a stimulant to fuel their party frenzy.

The rapid widespread use of cocoa as a party drug is due to the numerous health benefits contained in cocoa. Raw cocoa powder contains a compound named Polyphenol; this is a naturally occurring substance that helps rid the body of toxins gathered from the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe.

Raw cocoa powder also helps release a compound named Serotonin into the nervous system which acts with the body to give the individual a lasting feeling of; happiness, calm and relaxation. Helping fight depression and anxiety in the wake.

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Cocoa beans and cocoa powder contained in a wooden bowl.
Image source: naturesway.com.au

Again the Afrikan Theobroma contains another compound named Flavanol which strengthens the blood vessels thus, improves blood flow to the brain preventing the sudden occurrence of heart attacks and the deathly stroke. This same compound improves upon High Blood Pressure and the overall health vitality of the brain.

Studies conducted on the properties of cocoa have discovered that it contains cancer-fighting properties that can aid in stunting the growth of cancer-producing cells. It is however argued that this singular health benefit of raw cocoa powder is not conclusive. But given the rich anti-oxidant properties of cocoa, it most probably stands the great chance of fighting cancer. Some animal studies have also revealed that a rich cocoa diet significantly reduced the occurrence of breast and pancreatic cancer in farm animals.

To add, Theobromine and Theophylline are two of the numerous useful compounds found in cocoa. These two assist with persons who suffer from asthma. The compounds have the ability to open up the airway for asthmatic patients to breathe effectively when used regularly and judiciously.

A brief documentary on the health benefit of cocoa.
Video credit: YouTube.

It is in the preservation of health that the quality of living can be maximized. So in the end, those persons who seek to heighten the experiences of their senses in enriching the quality of their day to day living can consider employing the use of the healthily sacred cocoa.

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