The Theobroma cacao tree, known as cocoa, has a height of 4-6 meters and is found in Mexico. It is cultivated in tropical regions of South America, India, Ceylan and others. In West Africa it is mainly produced in Ghana. The fruits are mainly harvested in the spring. In autumn, the seeds (cocoa beans) are isolated and are fermented and kneaded.
Traditionally, Cocoa seeds have been evaluated for their high nutritional value and used as a medicine for fever, coughing and reducing the pain during labour birth. Cocoa seeds are widely used in pharmaceuticals as medication enhancers. Cocoa butter extracted from them is used as a base in the preparation of suppositories and ointments as well as a moisturizer for the lips.
Its scientific name means a plant of the gods and in the early Mayan period it was worshiped as an idol. Later, the god of 'Ykchaua' was the protector of the cocoa producers, while the Aztecs believed that the deity Quetzalcoatl sent the cocoa to bring them wisdom and power. Solid proof of the value of this superfood is that cocoa seeds were used by both cultures as coins (Bingham, 2010).
Cocoa, due to the theobromine it contains, has a strong diuretic effect (greater than caffeine) as well as some activity in the Central Nervous System. Belonging to the category of purine, theobromine is associated with other ingredients such as sugars, phenols and tannins from which it is released during fermentation and roasting.
- Bingham, A. (2010). South and Meso-American Mythology. (J. Roberts, Ed.) New York: Chelsea House.
- Samuelsson, G. (2004). ΦΑΡΜΑΚΕΥΤΙΚΑ ΠΡΟΪΟΝΤΑ ΦΥΣΙΚΗΣ ΠΡΟΕΛΕΥΣΗΣ. (Π. Κορδοπάτης, Έ. Μάνεση – Ζούπα, & Γ. Πάιρας, Trans.) ΗΡΑΚΛΕΙΟ: ΠΑΝΕΠΙΣΤΗΜΙΑΚΕΣ ΕΚΔΟΣΕΙΣ ΚΡΗΤΗΣ.
- Σουλελές, Χ. Ν. (2000). Φαρμακογνωσία. Θεσσαλονίκη: Πήγασος.