Introduction of Cocoa:chocola or theobroma.

Popular Herbs. ✵The article gives records of the herb Cocoa, its English name, Latin name, common names, property and flavor, its botanical source one plant species, ①.Theobroma cacao L., with a detailed introduction to the botanical features of this plant species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of this plant species, the features of the herb Cocoa, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.


Theobroma cacao:fruiting tree English Name: Cocoa.
 Latin Name: Theobroma cacao L.subsp.cacao.
 Common Names: Cacao, chocola, theobroma, chocolate tree.
 Property and flavor: warm nature, tastes specific.

 Brief introduction: Cocoa is native to tropical America. The cocoa cake obtained by fermentation, coarse crushing, and peeling of cocoa beans, which is the powder after defatting and crushing the cocoa cake, is cocoa powder. It is mostly used in the production of coffee, chocolate, and beverages, and is also an important ingredient in chocolate cake.

 Botanical source: Common herbal classics defined the herb Cocoa as the seeds of the species (1). Theobroma cacao L. It is a plant species of the Theobroma genus, the Sterculiaceae family. The seeds are used medicinally. This commonly used species is introduced:

(1).Theobroma cacao L.

 Theobroma cacao:fruiting tree Botanical description: Theobroma cacao is an evergreen tree, it grows 4~6 meters high, or 12~13 meters high, with lush broad crowns; Bark is thick, dark taupe; Tender branches are brown, rounded, and pubescent. Leaves are coriaceous or paperlike, alternate and in 2 rows on the branches, with short stalks, oval oblong to inverted oval oblong, 20~30 cm long and 7~10 cm wide, long tapered tip, rounded, the base is nearly heart~shaped or blunt, both surfaces are glabrous or slightly sparse stellate pubescence on the veins, the upper surface is green and pale when dry, the lower surface is paler green, glabrous or has a few, tiny, simple, branched and scattered hairs; Stipule is bar-shaped, early fall. The petiole is downy, cushioned, and 1.5~2 cm long.

 The inflorescence is on the main trunk and thicker branches on a so-called "flower-cup", flowers are arranged in cymes, with a diameter of about 18 mm; Pedicle is about 12 mm long; Calyx is pink, 5 sepals, long lanceolate, persistent, with a hairy edge; 5 petals, pale yellow, slightly longer than calyx, helmet-shaped at the lower part, sharply narrowed and rolled back, sharp at the top; Staminodes are linear; Stamens are opposite to petals; Ovary is obovate, slightly 5-edged, 5-locules, each locule has 14~16 ovules, arranged in two rows, and the style is cylindrical.

 Theobroma cacao:fruiting tree The drupe is oval or oblong, with a length of 15~25 cm and a diameter of 7~10 cm, large berry, thick-skinned, yellow or reddish, grooved, and sometimes bumpy and cucumberlike. There are 10 longitudinal grooves on the surface. After drying, the five longitudinal grooves on the inner side are not obvious. They are light green at first, then turn dark yellow or nearly red, and brown after drying. The pericarp is thick, fleshy, hard as wood after drying, 4~8 mm thick, and there are 12~14 seeds in each chamber; The seed is oval, slightly flattened, 2.5 cm long, and 1.5 cm wide, with thick cotyledons and no endosperm. The flowering period is almost all year round.

 Theobroma cacao:Cocoa fruits Ecological environment: Theobroma cacao is native to central and southern America, indigenous to the tropical rain forest in the upper reaches of the Amazon River in South America, it is mainly distributed in a narrow area within 10 degrees of the equator, and is now widely cultivated in tropical areas. The main producing countries are Brazil, Nigeria, Cô te d 'Ivoire, Ecuador, Dominica, Ghana, and Malaysia. The main consumers are USA(the United States of America), Europe, and East Asia.

 Theobroma cacao:Cocoa fruit and beans Growth characteristics: Theobroma cacao can grow on the gentle slope formed by warm and humid climate and alluvial soil rich in organic matter, but it is not suitable for growing on poor drainage, heavy clay or places frequently hit by typhoons. Seed propagation or bud grafting; After 4~5 years of planting, it began to bear fruit. After 10 years, the harvest increased greatly, and after 40~50 years, the yield gradually decreased. Cocoa seeds are the main raw materials for making cocoa powder and chocolate candy. It is one of the top three drinks in the world.

 History stories of Cocoa: About 3,000 years ago, the Mayans in America began to cultivate a cocoa tree, which was called cacau. They dry and crush cocoa beans, add water and pepper, and mix them into a bitter drink. Theobromine and trace caffeine in this beverage can produce exciting effects. The drink later spread to the Aztec Empire in South America and Mexico(Aztec, self name Culhua-Mexica, Nahuatl-speaking people who in the 15th and early 16th centuries ruled a large empire in what is now central and southern Mexico.). The Aztecs called it xocoatl, which means "bitter water". They made hot drinks special for the royal family, called Chocolatl, which means "hot drink" and it is the origin of the word "chocolate".

 The process of cocoa spreading from South America to Europe, Asia, and Africa is tortuous and long. Before the 16th century, cocoa was not known to people living outside the Amazon Plain, when it was not the raw material of cocoa beverage. Because seeds are very rare and precious, local people use cocoa beans as currency, which is called "cocoa hutuoli".

 In the 16th century, Columbus (Christopher Columbus, Italian Cristoforo Colombo, 1451~1506 A.D., master navigator and admiral whose four transatlantic voyages opened the way for European exploration, exploitation, and colonization of the Americas.) and Spaniards discovered and described this plant and drink, but they were not interested in it. In 1544, a delegation of Maya nobles from Dominica visited Prince Felipe II (1527~1598 A.D.) of Spain. They took their cocoa drink with them, which was a frothy drink with spices such as vanilla, which aroused the interest of the Spanish people. They also started drinking this drink and added sugar and other ingredients.

 In the first half of the 16th century, cocoa spread to Mexico through the isthmus of Central America, and then to the territory of the Inca Empire(Inca, also spelled Inka, South American Indians who, at the time of the Spanish conquest in 1532, ruled an empire that extended along the Pacific coast and Andean highlands from the northern border of modern Ecuador to the Maule River in central Chile.) in present-day southern Brazil. It was quickly loved by local people. They collected wild cocoa, mashed the kernel, and processed it into a drink called "chocolate" (meaning "bitter water"). In the middle of the 16th century, Europeans came to America, discovered cocoa, and realized that it was a valuable economic crop. They developed cocoa drinks and chocolate is based on "chocolate".

 At the end of the 16th century, the world's first chocolate factory was established by the Spanish government at that time, but at first, some nobles were reluctant to accept food and drinks made of cocoa beans. Cocoa was named very late, and it was not until the 18th century that Linnaeus (Carolus Linnaeus, Swedish Carl von Linné, 1707~1778, Swedish naturalist and explorer who was the first to frame principles for defining natural genera and species of organisms and to create a uniform system for naming them), a Swedish scholar, named it. Later, because chocolate and cocoa powder became an important energy supplement, people praised the cocoa tree as "God's Grain Tree" and the cocoa beverage as "God's Beverage".

 Later, chocolate became the drink of the French upper class. However, chocolate drinks couldn't compete with coffee and black tea later, and they were reborn from drinks to solid chocolate in the end.

 Cocoa beans and chocolate Characters of herbs: Cocoa seeds consist of the seeds of Theobroma cacao, which have been removed from their shells, fermented, and lightly roasted. Cocoa consists of the testae of theobroma cacao. Cocoa butter is the hard fat obtained from the mature cocoa seeds of Theobroma cacao. After removal of the germ roots and the shell from the seeds, the seeds are removed from the shell and crushed. The cocoa fat is squeezed out at a temperature of 70~80 °C (Celsius, or 158~176 degrees Fahrenheit) and allowed to cool.

 Pharmacological actions: ①.mild stimulant to the central nervous system ②.protects skin; ③.antioxidants; ④.antibacterial activity; etc.

 Cocoa is a mild stimulant if compare to coffee or tea because it contains a much lower level of caffeine, its component alkaloid theobromine mildly stimulates the central nervous system and heart, but these components are low in concentration, its caffeine and theobromine has some effects opening up the bronchial tubes but for low concentration, it is hard to make a practical application for these purposes with a common dose. Cocoa is a source of natural antioxidants, antioxidants help scavenge toxic by-products that may contribute to cancer cell formation. Cocoa seed bark extract is also found to have an antibacterial activity to a penicillin-resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureus. Cocoa contains methylxanthines, it has a diuretic, bronchyolitic, and vasodilatory effect, improves cardiac muscle performance, and acts as a muscle relaxant.

 Medicinal efficacy: Cacao beans were used by Central Americans for conditions of coughs, fever, pregnancy, and childbirth complications, and the preparations were used externally for skin-related problems including irritated skin, chapped lips, burns, and sore breasts of nursing mothers. When it was found by Hernando Cortes, cacao beans were used by Europeans for asthma, bronchial congestion, cough, endocrine gland dysfunction, diarrhea, infectious intestinal diseases, and other conditions, also it was used to reduce wrinkles around the eyes, mouth, and neck. Today cocoa is recommended by herbalists as a remedy for asthma and chest congestion, as a stimulant, mild diuretic, digestive aid, and aphrodisiac, Cocoa is used as a flavoring in commercial foods and medicines, Cocoa butter is widely used in creams, massage lotions, ointments, suppositories, soaps, and other products. In folk medicine, cocoa seeds are used for infectious intestinal disease, diarrhea, and as a secretolytic, to regulate the thyroid and as a mild stimulant, cocoa seed coat preparations are used for liver, bladder, and kidney ailments, diabetes, as a tonic and general remedy and as an astringent for diarrhea. Cocoa butter is used as an inactive ingredient in dermatologic preparations.

 Administration of Cocoa (chocola): 
Reference: Administration Guide of Cocoa (chocola)
Herbal classic books: Hot cocoa is made with 1 to 2 heaping teaspoons of cocoa per cup of water or milk. Cocoa butter is used liberally in creams and lotions as an emollient. In the treatment of minor burns, 50~100% concentrations of cocoa butter are applied. Cocoa butter should be stored in a cool, dark place.
 Contraindications, Precautions and Adverse Reactions: Cocoa has been safely consumed by millions over the centuries, and the FDA classifies both cocoa and chocolate as safe for food use. Those who are sensitive to caffeine should avoid cocoa, as it might make you irritable, jittery, have problems falling asleep, or have other unwanted side effects, children may be particularly susceptible. The tyramines in chocolate trigger headaches in some people. Avoid cocoa-containing products if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. Allergic skin reactions to cocoa butter can occur. There was a report that a dog who had a toxic reaction to the caffeine and theobromine in cocoa after eating two pounds of chocolate chips, the dog became extremely excited, suffered convulsions and collapse, and died. The amines can trigger a migraine attack. Cocoa seeds can cause constipation because of the tannin content.

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