The cocoa bean is mainly used to produce cocoa powder and chocolate. The cocoa bean has high a level of flavonoids, which promote energy and heart health. It should be noted that the high level of flavonoids are found in the bean, but you can still get some nutrients from dark chocolate. The plant is also known to contain caffeine, which in turn helps with energy levels.
Cocoa gets its medicinal benefits from the seed skin. The seed can be turned into butter, which is used in lotions and creams. The seed’s coat can be used as a general remedy for digestive issues. Generally there are no health hazards or side effects from cocoa, but it can cause excitability in children because of the caffeine content.
The medicinal parts are the seed skins that remain after making cocoa and cocoa butter; the seeds which have been partly freed from their skins and lightly roasted; and the raw, dried, unroasted seeds.
Flower and Fruit
The inflorescences are on the main trunk and thicker branches on a so-called “flower cup.” The cymelike branchlets are short, nodded, and persistent. There are 5 sepals, which are narrow. The petals are cap-shaped and stemmed with flaglike laminas. The stamen tube, with 5 fertile stamens and 5 awl-shaped staminoids, is short. The fruit is a 15 to 25 cm long and 10 cm thick, large berry. It is oblong or obovate, thick-skinned, yellow or reddish, grooved and sometimes bumpy and cucumberlike. The 20 to 50 seeds are arranged in rows and embedded in a pink, fruity, sweetish-sour pulp. They are pressed flat, almond-shaped, reddish-brown and without endosperm.
Leaves, Stem, and Root
The plant is a 4 to 6 m, occasionally up to 13 m, tall tree with an irregular knotty trunk and a broad crown. The young branches are rounded. The leaves are coriaceous or paperlike, alternate and in 2 rows on the branches. The petiole is downy, cushioned, and 1.5 to 2 cm long. The lamina is oval or elliptical, slightly asymmetrical, rounded at the base with a conspicuous tip. 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.
The plant is cultivated globally in tropical regions.
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 ripe 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 70º C to 80º C and allowed to cool.
Cacao, Chocolate Tree
Actions & Pharmacology
Compounds: Cocoa Seed
Purine alkaloids (3 to 4%): main alkaloid theobromine (2.8 to 3.5%), with a lesser amount of caffeine (0.1 to 0.4%)
Fat (50%): chief fatty acids oleic acid (33 to 39%), stearic acid (30 to 37%), palmitic acid (24 to 31%)
Proteic substances (10 to 16%)
Starch (5 to 9%)
Monosaccharides/oligosaccharides (2 to 4%): saccharose, glucose, fructose
Biogenic amines: including phenyl ethyl amine, tyramine, tryptamine, serotonin
Isoquinoline alkaloids: salsolinol
Catechin tannins (10%): including oligomeric proanthocyanidins (8%)
Oxalates (0.6 to 1%)
Effects: Cocoa Seed
Cocoa seeds can cause constipation because of the tannin content. The drug contains methylxanthines, mainly theobromin, which have a diuretic, broncholytic, and vasodilatory effect. They also stimulate cardiac muscle performance and act as a muscle relaxant.
Compounds: Cocoa Seed Coat
Purine alkaloids: main alkaloid theobromine (0.4-1.2%) with less caffeine (0.02%)
Biogenic amine: including phenyl ethyl amine, tyramine, tryptamine, serotonin
Catechin tannins: among them, proanthocyanidins
Effects: Cocoa Seed Coat
Cocoa can cause constipation. Cocoa contains methylxanthines, which have a diuretic, bronchyolitic, and vasodilatory effect. They also improve cardiac muscle performance and act as a muscle relaxant.
Compounds: Cocoa Butter
Triglycerides (melting temperature 31 to 35º C): chief fatty acids oleic acid (33 to 39%), stearic acid (30 to 37%), palmitic acid (24 to 31%)
Free fatty acids
Steroids: sterols, including beta-sitosterol
Purine alkaloids (0.001 to 0.1%)
Effects: Cocoa Butter
The main constituents are triglycerides. High doses of cocoa butter, in contrast to similar saturated fatty acids, do not cause an increase of serum cholesterol and the LDL fraction.
Indications & Usage
In folk medicine, Cocoa seeds are used for infectious intestinal disease, diarrhea, and as a secretolytic. It is also used to regulate the thyroid and as a mild stimulant (in compound drinks containing caffeine.)
Cocoa Seed Coat
Preparations of cocoa seed coat 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 by the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries as an inactive ingredient in dermatologic preparations.
Precautions & Adverse Reactions
No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with either the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages or the consumption of normal amounts of chocolate products. Large dosages lead to constipation due to the tannin content. Cocoa and cocoa products can cause allergic reactions. The amines can trigger migraine attacks.
Large quantities of chocolate products can lead to overexcitability, racing pulse, and sleep disorders in children because of the caffeine content, which can be as high as 0.2% in milk chocolate and 0.4% in bitter chocolate.
Cocoa Seed Coat
No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages. Cocoa and cocoa products can cause allergic reactions. Large dosages lead to constipation due to the tannin content. The amines can trigger migraine attacks.
No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages.
Mode of Administration
Cocoa Butter is used as a pharmaceutical base for suppositories and vaginal globules. It is an additive for ointments and cosmetic preparations, such as skin creams and lip balms.
Store in a cool, dark place.