Information

Is chocolate poisonous?


I have heard that chilli peppers and coffee evolved to contain toxic chemicals which help to protect them from predators. And recently I learned that star anise, liquorice and aniseed are not actually related plants, but each independently developed the ability to produce anethole, which can also deter predators.

However humans have evolved resistance so they can ingest all these substances, and tend to enjoy their extreme flavours. Some more examples are onions, garlic, peppercorns and tea (for its stimulative effect rather than for its flavour).

It made me wonder:

Did the active ingredient in chocolate also evolve to deter predators?

And I am also curious, are there any other foods which I haven't mentioned that humans also enjoy due to their toxic or deterrent components? (I'm thinking more about flavour than psychoactive effects here, as I know there are many examples of the latter.)


Alkaloid synthesis is energy consuming for plants and have complex metabolic pathway.

If their evolutionary history is not known with certainty, they have numerous uses and are often toxic to potential plant or animal aggressor.

Chocolate contain many alkaloids including caffeine and theobromine. But apparently do it with a different pathway and is the result of convergent evolution.

It is safe to assume these alkaloid protects cocoa plant in the same manner it protects coffee and that the benefits of such poisons allowed poisonous cocoa plant to become predominant.

However, alkaloids of chocolate are solely responsible for its bitter taste. (Cf. Wikipedia page "Alkaloids" for more info). If bitterness is part of its flavour, we prefer its fats the numerous volatile compound gained during fermentations of the beans. According to this article published on academy.org :

The distinctive chocolate flavor evolves throughout its production. Odorless, tasteless “precursors” form during fermentation, and these precursors react during roasting to form taste and aroma compounds.

Also many essential oils are poisonous to insects, fungi or bacteria. These properties are sometimes used by humans : for instance cinnamon oil is toxic to mosquito larvae


Why is chocolate toxic for dogs?

Yes. Chocolate, unfortunately, is toxic to dogs. And the reason for that is because it contains a compound called theobromine.

Theobromine and caffeine are both present in chocolate, but theobromine is the problem. They're both methylxanthines.

In dogs, theobromine is very long lasting - so it's got a very long half-life of about 18 hours - whereas in people, the half-life is only two or three hours. And people readily absorb the theobromine.

I think it's just a fact that every species has a different metabolism. We see differences between dogs and cats with certain drugs, say for example, you shouldn't give a cat paracetamol whereas dogs can tolerate paracetamol. So it's just a species difference probably down to different enzymes that are present in the system.

So how much theobromine is toxic, you might ask yourself.? If a dog eats a couple of M&Ms, that's not going to cause any problem. The toxic levels vary from 20 mg per kilogram of theobromine to about 150 mg per kilogram of theobromine. So what does that mean in reality? Well, putting into a typical scenario, if you got a labrador and that ate a 200 gram bar of dark chocolate, that, potentially, is enough to kill your dog. So it's actually not very much.

The big problem at this time of year is someone gives you a box of chocolates, wrapped up, and you put it under the Christmas tree. and the dog eats the box of chocolates. If that happens, you certainly should call your vet as soon as possible.


'Tis the season to be vigilant: Risk of chocolate poisoning in dogs peaks at Christmas

University of Liverpool researchers are warning of a "significant peak" in the risk of chocolate poisoning in dogs over the Christmas period as households stock up on festive treats.

Most people know that chocolate can be poisonous to dogs but may not know why. The toxic ingredient is a caffeine-like stimulant called theobromine that can lead to an upset stomach, a racing heartbeat, dehydration, seizures and in the most severe cases death.

In a new study published in the Vet Record, researchers from the University's Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network (SAVSNET) have used electronic health records from UK veterinary practices to analyse cases of chocolate ingestion in dogs.

The findings reveal significant seasonal peaks of chocolate ingestion cases across the year, most notably at Christmas and to a lesser extent at Easter - as chocolate becomes more accessible within the home.

In most cases the amount of chocolate consumed was quite small, with common festive culprits including selection boxes, chocolate cake, liqueurs, chocolate Santas and advent calendars.

Veterinary researcher Dr P-J.M. Noble who led the study commented: "Dogs love a chocolate treat and at Christmas there are plenty about. Sadly dogs can't eat chocolate safely so many of them end up making an unplanned visit to the vet, which can disrupt the celebrations.

"People should keep festive chocolates away from pets. If chocolate is consumed, owners should talk to their vet as soon as possible, and ideally be prepared to quantify the amount and type of chocolate consumed. Information on the chocolate packaging may help the vet take the best action. While many cases of chocolate-eating are not at toxic levels, where they are, it is better to see the vet quickly."

The research, which analysed 386 cases of chocolate ingestion in dogs from 229 UK veterinary practices between 2013 and 2017, also revealed some differences in the seasonal pattern of UK cases compared to other countries. Peaks in similar cases around Valentine's Day and Halloween that have previously been reported in the USA and Germany were not found in the UK, which the researchers suggest could be due to different festival priorities.

The study also found that chocolate ingestion was significantly less common in older dogs and that no specific breed is more at risk than others.

Dr Noble added: "Big data is allowing us to perform wide scale studies of issues like chocolate exposure. This will help us to understand the influence of age, breed, season and geography on a wide range of different problems."


Ginseng

For ginseng, clinical trials have found evidence that it can help treat erectile dysfunction and stimulate arousal and post-menopausal women via its effect on smooth muscle tissue.

Le says this mechanism is similar to how Viagra works: releasing nitric oxide in the smooth muscles of the penis can both “relax and increase blood flow to the organ.”

But even then, scientists don’t yet know exactly how much ginseng should be taken to achieve these effects and more research is needed to further understand its benefits.


Amaryllis and Daffodils - Poisonous

An amaryllis bulb is a common holiday gift. Amaryllis, daffodil, and narcissus bulbs may be forced indoors to produce showy holiday flowers. Eating the bulbs (and leaves, though they are less toxic) can cause abdominal pain, cardiac arrhythmias, and convulsions. The plants are more likely to be eaten by pets than children, but the alkaloid poison lycorine is considered toxic to humans, too.


Biodiversity > What Do You Know About Poison?

Organisms use poisons to survive. Some use poison to capture prey. What’s another way they use poison?

ANSWER: to defend themselves

Poisons can protect an organism from getting eaten. In the natural world, poisons are just one of many tools of survival.

Which of the following can be poisonous?

plants, animals, and bacteria

plants, animals, bacteria, and minerals

ANSWER: plants, animals, bacteria, and minerals

Poisons are found in all kinds of living things, including fungi. Non-living substances can be poisonous too, such as minerals like mercury and lead and radioactive elements like radium and uranium. Even minerals like salt can be poisonous in large enough doses.

Which disease is caused by mercury poisoning?

ANSWER: mad hatter disease

From the 1700s through the early 1900s, hat-making factories used a poisonous compound containing mercury . Long-term exposure caused insane or “mad” behavior like tremors and extreme irritability—similar to the Mad Hatter’s in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

A substance may be harmless to one species and poisonous to another. Which substance is poisonous for dogs?

ANSWER: chocolate

Chocolate may be a treat for humans, but it can be deadly for dogs! Theobromine is the ingredient in chocolate that gives humans a pleasant boost. For dogs, theobromine causes seizures and vomiting.

The leaves of the passionflower are poisonous. When longwing caterpillars eat the leaves, they:

get sick from the poisons

survive and become toxic butterflies

ANSWER: survive and become toxic butterflies

Longwing caterpillars have evolved the ability to eat passionflower leaves. Their bodies chemically change the poison in the plant before it can harm them. The poison stays in the caterpillar’s body—even when it becomes a butterfly—and protects them from predators.


How do animals know which plants are edible and which are poisonous?

To the human eye, many edible plants have a poisonous plant look alike. We can distinguish the two after research and learning but how do animals just know the difference?

It is their natural instinct. Their sensory system is hardwired with built-in hardware to recognize safe and unsafe. In the brain is a main sensor that communicates back and forth within itself like a fast pendulum in yes/no fashion, if it is a yes it will signal a go ahead when it *recognizes* a familiar pattern, color, smell, shape. This is the go-ahead to proceed and eat. If one of those steps are not checked, there is no match and the plant is passed by.

they cant always. part of it is training (being taught by their parents/colony/whatever), part of it is just by smell (“this smells like food”), part of it is trial and error.

had to get rid of a couple of plants when I got my last cat, due to them being poisonous for her

So humans have this tendency to both over estimate and underestimate animals. Instinct doesn’t account for as much as you can. You know how some animals dig, or you know behavior animals do to indicate emotion? A lot isn’t instinct, its taught by the parents. Animals born in capitivity or orphaned don’t have the skills they need to be a flamingo or panda or what have you. Even then if released into other animals they are often out cast because they don’t know the social ques and social norms of said animal pack.

so a great deal of it is taught by parent animal, panda goes to eat poison flower and mom will smack it, much like a human. other times they learn the way we do, eat it, get sick, never touch it again.

Dogs will happily eat chocolate, grapes, poop, or literally anything that can fit in their mouths.

Some animals just… don’t know. Then they die without outside intervention.

In addition to the other excellent answers about parenting and trial-and-error, consider the role that evolution plays. If an animal takes a liking to the taste of something that kills it, then it is dead and cannot have children. If another member of the same species ends up not liking the taste of that plant and never eats enough of it to kill itself that one will have children, passing on its genes which may result in their children not liking the taste of that plant as well.

Hey,[I made a quick video to answer your question! (With a banging joke at the end too)](https://youtu.be/7jhgWCSdHzI)

If videos aren’t your thing I’ll summerise my answer here.

* Animals don’t always know what to eat/not eat. There are small pointers in nature that help them.
* Monarch butterflys are aposematic, meaning they display bright patterns or colours to warn off predators. If a bird was to eat this butterfly, they’d then fall ill due to it. They’d then make the connection between the patterns and the illness, stopping them from chomping on more.
* Animals adapt too, parsley contains psoralens which cause photsynphesis. It also makes it easier to sunburn due to this chemical. Insects that eat parsley have adapted, and have been seen to hide in shade for hours after consuming parsley.
* Some plants that are poisonous contain Tannin which makes the plant taste bitter. Antelope and other animals are seen to nibble plants, it’s thought that this is to see if the plant is edible. If it’s bitter they will steer clear.
* Natural selection plays a big part too, over generations and time animals that find poisonous plants tasy will stop having offspring and the species will eventually stop eating those plants.

Hope that helped, have a great day!

For your interest, we have 2 rabbits, one of my rabbits eat chili, lemon and also likes alcohol and then she would make weird noises. Of course we dont feed these food, that was only to test if she would eat it because the older doesn’t.


Coumarin is mostly toxic to the liver, which plays a central role in mopping up poisons and clearing them from the body

Though the plants are distant cousins, cassia cinnamon contains around 25,000 times more coumarin. The US doesn’t regulate the amount of coumarin in cinnamon, though the European Union has set safe daily limits – and just one teaspoon of cassia cinnamon could send you over.

In 2013 Denmark’s beloved kanelsnegle, or cinnamon rolls, narrowly escaped being banned after a study found that nearly half of the products tested exceeded the maximum coumarin content allowed in food. “Only very rarely do we find an exceedance of a toxic compound in such a high percentage of foods,” says Nicolai Ballin, a food chemist from the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration who authored the study. “The worry is that many of these products are aimed at children.”.

So how dangerous is coumarin really? On paper at least, the forbidden flavour has never caused a single human death and there have been calls to lift the ban. But that’s not quite the full story.

Cattle have died after eating coumarin-rich clover that had been infected with fungus (Credit: iStock)

Coumarin is mostly toxic to the liver, which plays a central role in mopping up poisons and clearing them from the body. As the front-line defence, the organ is extraordinarily resilient, able to regenerate from just a quarter of its original size. Just like alcohol, coumarin is thought to be toxic over the long term, with repeated bouts of damage.

“The problem is it’s not like you’re going to realise when you’ve got to the level where you’re eating too much – the effects build up over years,” says Dirk Lachenmeier from the Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Laboratory (CVUA) of Karlsruhe, Germany, who has developed a new way of detecting coumarin in foods.

The easy way to find out is obvious alas, it turns out feeding people toxic chemicals isn’t allowed. Instead, the safe limits in humans are based on studies in animals, from baboons to dogs. To account for any differences in our biology, the highest amount which hasn’t caused any harm in animals is multiplied by 100.


'Tis the season to be vigilant: Risk of chocolate poisoning in dogs peaks at Christmas

University of Liverpool researchers are warning of a "significant peak" in the risk of chocolate poisoning in dogs over the Christmas period as households stock up on festive treats.

Most people know that chocolate can be poisonous to dogs but may not know why. The toxic ingredient is a caffeine-like stimulant called theobromine that can lead to an upset stomach, a racing heartbeat, dehydration, seizures and in the most severe cases death.

In a new study published in the Vet Record, researchers from the University's Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network (SAVSNET) have used electronic health records from UK veterinary practices to analyse cases of chocolate ingestion in dogs.

The findings reveal significant seasonal peaks of chocolate ingestion cases across the year, most notably at Christmas and to a lesser extent at Easter - as chocolate becomes more accessible within the home.

In most cases the amount of chocolate consumed was quite small, with common festive culprits including selection boxes, chocolate cake, liqueurs, chocolate Santas and advent calendars.

Veterinary researcher Dr P-J.M. Noble who led the study commented: "Dogs love a chocolate treat and at Christmas there are plenty about. Sadly dogs can't eat chocolate safely so many of them end up making an unplanned visit to the vet, which can disrupt the celebrations.

"People should keep festive chocolates away from pets. If chocolate is consumed, owners should talk to their vet as soon as possible, and ideally be prepared to quantify the amount and type of chocolate consumed. Information on the chocolate packaging may help the vet take the best action. While many cases of chocolate-eating are not at toxic levels, where they are, it is better to see the vet quickly."

The research, which analysed 386 cases of chocolate ingestion in dogs from 229 UK veterinary practices between 2013 and 2017, also revealed some differences in the seasonal pattern of UK cases compared to other countries. Peaks in similar cases around Valentine's Day and Halloween that have previously been reported in the USA and Germany were not found in the UK, which the researchers suggest could be due to different festival priorities.

The study also found that chocolate ingestion was significantly less common in older dogs and that no specific breed is more at risk than others.

Dr Noble added: "Big data is allowing us to perform wide scale studies of issues like chocolate exposure. This will help us to understand the influence of age, breed, season and geography on a wide range of different problems."

Notes to editor:

About SAVSNET

SAVSNET is a collaboration between University of Liverpool and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), and is currently funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). For more information about SAVSNET please visit https:/ / www. liverpool. ac. uk/ savsnet/

About the University of Liverpool

The University of Liverpool is one of the UK's leading research institutions with an annual turnover of £495 million, including £126 million for research. Liverpool is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of the UK's leading research universities. Visit http://www. liv. ac. uk or follow us on twitter at: http://www. twitter. com/ livuninews

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.


Is Raw Cacao or Dark Chocolate Really Healthy?

Many people have been misinformed and confused by the big movement in the raw cacao and dark chocolate food industries to believe that these substances are some of the healthiest foods in the world you can eat and you should eat as much of them as you like. These statements are simply not true, and in my opinion, are motivated by addiction and money.
Manufacturers of raw cacao and dark chocolate are making a great profit on this healthy marketing hype and charging top dollar for something that really isn’t much better for you than a cheap chocolate bar from the grocery store. Chocolate addicts, like all addicts, are always looking for a way to justify the usage or consumption of their drug of choice and get angry when you try to tell them otherwise. Just like alcoholics love to hear that a beer a day or a glass of wine has some health benefits when we all really know better. No matter how you cut it, eating chocolate, or raw cacao, on a regular basis is not healthy.

Proponents of raw cacao and dark chocolate will say that there is a difference between raw and refined chocolate. The primary difference is that raw cacao and dark chocolate contain high levels of antioxidants and minerals, while refined chocolate does not. However, the issues I am focusing on in this post are true regardless of whether we are talking about refined chocolate, dark chocolate or raw cacao.

Supporters of the raw cacao craze tell us that it is healthy for us because it is very high in antioxidants and magnesium. Well, that may be true, but you must look at the overall nutritional value of a food to determine its level of healthiness, not just one component. The negative aspects that are inherent in chocolate in any form far outweigh the positives.

Raw cacao contains over 300 naturally occurring chemicals and many of them are detrimental to the human body and mind when consumed on a regular basis. Many of them could be considered toxins. Some of the most potent, harmful and disconcerting include theobromine, theophylline, and caffeine. These chemicals have a devastating effect on the central nervous system, gastrointestinal system, cardiovascular and endocrine system and can result in depression, anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, gastrointestinal disorders, adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue, nausea, nervous disorders, osteoporosis, heart and circulation disorders and many more. The chemicals in raw cacao are actually much more potent than processed chocolate because they are presented to us in raw form.

All chocolate is produced through fermentation, and any food that is fermented is high in glutamate and histamine, which can contribute to elevated levels in people with high histamine or glutamate.

It is also very high in mold and mycotoxins (toxins produced by certain species of mold) like aflatoxin and ochratoxin, which can lead to a wide array of neurological symptoms. Aflatoxin is also carcinogenic, and it can be found in peanuts, pistachios, rice, wheat, and corn as well. Chocolate is also high in oxalic acid which can inhibit the absorption of calcium.

In addition to that, raw cacao stimulates high levels of serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine, three crucial neurotransmitters involved in regulating mood, pain, sleep, and appetite, and the cycle of addiction, and has high levels of other chemicals like phenylethylamine and anandamide.

Serotonin is our natural anti-depressant, dopamine provides feelings of happiness, pleasure, focus, and attention, and endorphins are our natural pain relievers. Sufficient levels of neurotransmitters are needed for good physical and mental health, however, high levels of any of these neurotransmitters produce feelings of intense pleasure, euphoria, well-being, and reduction of pain. For example, people become addicted to opioids because they increase endorphins, amphetamines because they increase dopamine and alcohol because it increases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin.

Phenylethylamine is an amphetamine that stimulates dopamine receptors and increases pulse, blood sugar levels, alertness, and blood pressure. Phenylethylamine occurs naturally in our brain and is the chemical released when we fall in love and thus why many people are addicted to falling in love and have serial relationships. However, the phenylethylamine that occurs naturally is much lower in quantity and potency than chocolate.

Anandamide is an endocannabinoid, a neurotransmitter that is affected by marijuana use and addiction, thus, providing a similar kind of a high. Endocannabinoids affect sensory and time perception, pleasure, appetite, pain, coordination, concentration, memory, thought and movement and have a dampening effect on all other neurotransmitters. They, too, are naturally occurring in the brain, but marijuana and chocolate cause excessive stimulation, which produces the high. Additionally, other chemicals in chocolate decrease the breakdown of our neurotransmitter anandamide, which prolongs the euphoric effects of chocolate.

Chocolate contains another substance called epicatechin that has morphine-like activity. In Breaking the Food Seduction, Dr. Neal Barnard states “the truth is that chocolate is, in essence, an addictive drug. It targets the same spot on your brain as heroin or morphine.” This is demonstrated partly by the fact that studies have found Naloxone, an opiate-blocking drug that is used to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose, has been found to also eliminate cravings and desire for chocolate. As a matter of fact, Naloxone will make chocolate completely unappealing. Thus, demonstrating that the brain is affected by chocolate in the same way as opiates.

He states, chocolate does not stimulate opiate receptors to the same degree as narcotics, but it is a similar effect and this is the driving force of what keeps us coming back for more chocolate. According to Barnard, cravings for chocolate can also be eliminated with some other drugs that target neurotransmitters like Wellbutrin and Topamax, again demonstrating chocolates influence over neurotransmitters

Barnard, explains “chocolate is not just a single drug-like compound, it’s basically the whole drugstore, traces of mild opiates, caffeine, amphetamine-like components, and the equivalent of a slight whiff of marijuana,” all wrapped into one. However, just as the “taste of sugar touching the tongue appears to send a signal to the brain that triggers a virtually instant opiate effect, chocolate likely does the same in addition to the effects of its chemical cornucopia.” If chocolate is combined with a 50/50 mixture of sugar and fat, (substances that also affect neurotransmitters) it “reaches its point of maximal irresistibility.”

Additionally, in a review of the literature, researchers deduced “chocolate may evoke similar psychopharmacologic and behavioral reactions in susceptible persons” as drugs and alcohol.” They explain that “Chocolate contains several biologically active constituents (methylxanthines, biogenic amines, and cannabinoid-like fatty acids), all of which potentially cause abnormal behaviors and psychological sensations that parallel those of other addictive substances. It may be used by some as a form of self-medication for dietary deficiencies (eg, magnesium) or to balance low levels of neurotransmitters involved in the regulation of mood, food intake, and compulsive behaviors (eg, serotonin and dopamine).” They alert dietetics professionals that they “must be aware that chocolate cravings are real. The psychopharmacologic and chemosensory effects of chocolate must be considered when formulating recommendations for overall healthful eating and for treatment of nutritionally related health issues.”

This is why chocolate makes you feel so good and is so addictive. You are essentially high when you eat chocolate. The presence of these chemicals actually indicates that raw cacao is a mind-altering, addictive drug. Raw cacao overstimulates or mimics neurotransmitters in the brain, just like hard drugs like cocaine and morphine. Overstimulation or mimicking of neurotransmitters causes the brain to cut back on production as it is tricked into thinking it has too many and this leads to depletion of neurotransmitters and tolerance.

Depletion of neurotransmitters leads to addiction, as well as a variety of other health issues like neurotransmitter imbalances, insomnia, depression, anxiety, obesity, hyperactivity, chronic pain, fatigue, nervousness, adrenal fatigue, and violence. Chocolate in any form stimulates feelings of euphoria, which keep us coming back for more. If high dosages of raw cacao are consumed, hallucinations can occur.

When you eat chocolate or raw cacao, it’s as if you have toked a little off a joint, drank a bit of wine, snorted some cocaine and meth, and shot up some heroin all at the same time, because it stimulates endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and anandamide in the same manner as these drugs. It is somewhat less potent than the harder drugs, but still the exact same process in the brain. It is no wonder the world is in love with chocolate.

Many of these chemicals are also overstimulating to the autonomic nervous system and thrust the body into a state of fight or flight. If eaten on a continuous basis, it can lead to chronic dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, which results in a wide array of psychological and physiological symptoms like high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, heart-pounding, inability to sleep, depression, headaches, migraines, tachycardia, overactive bladder and much more.

All this impact on neurotransmitters and the autonomic nervous system has a detrimental impact on the adrenal glands because they cause overstimulation to this organ as well. When the adrenal glands are overstimulated, they are called upon to continually release cortisol and other stress hormones, this is what results in the feelings of alertness and energy when raw cacao is consumed. Over time as the adrenal glands are called upon continuously to release these hormones, they burn out. They no longer produce cortisol as they should, which leads to adrenal fatigue and eventually exhaustion. Adrenal fatigue or exhaustion leads to many chronic health conditions and symptoms like excessive fatigue, inability to handle stress, anxiety, depression and many more.

People become dependent on raw cacao or chocolate because now their neurotransmitters and adrenal glands don’t function properly on their own, they now need the raw cacao to perform their duties. They experience fatigue, lack of concentration, depression, anxiety, etc. when it isn’t eaten, so they eat it all the time.

Furthermore, anytime the stress response system is activated, as it is from the caffeine in chocolate, epinephrine triggers the liver to release sugar that it has stored into the bloodstream, thus increasing blood sugar levels, which then leads to an insulin response and then the inevitable of storage of excess sugar as fat. This means that chocolate can contribute to insulin resistance, hyperinsulinism, type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, etc.

Both raw unfermented cocoa beans and your regular cocoa powder contain exceptionally high levels of phytic acid and so does processed chocolate to a slightly lesser extent. Phytates are antinutrients that bind to your minerals and make them unavailable to your body and decrease the activity of important digestive enzymes like amylase, pepsin, and trypsin, which means they may contribute to mineral deficiencies, gut inflammation, leaky gut, and autoimmune disorders.

Not only that, many brands of cacao have high levels of heavy metals like cadmium, lead, and copper. All of which can have a profound negative effect on neurotransmitter production and function and thus emotional health. High levels of heavy metals are implicated in numerous mental health issues.

Other symptoms or conditions that can develop from the overconsumption of raw cacao may include abnormal growth of glands, panic attacks, irritability, headaches, outbursts of unexplainable anger, mood swings, impaired colon functioning, birth abnormalities, irritated kidneys, trembling, damage to the liver, violence, paranoia, PMS, OCD and dizziness.

We could sum this up simply by saying that raw cacao over stimulates the heart, mind, nervous system and body. Overstimulation is never a good thing. It leads to burn out, malfunction and degradation. To say that it is a healthy Superfood is simply ludicrous.

If you’ve visited me before, then you know that I am a strong advocate of the Paleo diet. Unfortunately, many people in the primal community are also under the false belief that eating dark chocolate or raw cacao is healthy. You will find dark chocolate in the ingredients of many Paleo recipes. I urge you to not get caught up in this misinformation. In addition to all that we’ve already discussed, our caveman ancestors were not indulging in anything that resembles chocolate. Keep in mind that most Paleo recipes are written for the general population, not people with chronic mental or physical health conditions. Yes, someone who is generally in good health can get away with indulgences in some unhealthy behaviors like eating chocolate without too many consequences. At this site, we are dealing with things like addiction, mental health disorders, gastrointestinal issues, autoimmune disorders, endocrine system disorders, candida overgrowth, autonomic nervous system disorders and much more. For this group of people, you do not have the same luxury or freedom for indulgences. The Paleo people feel that chocolate is a sensible indulgence, but for many people, this would not be sensible.

If you do indulge, consumption should be restricted to special occasions and should be done so with your eyes wide open and aware of the facts, not in a veil of delusion and lies. Not under the false assumption that you are eating something healthy and not in a state of denial and justification to continue a harmful addiction. An occasional piece of organic cacao or chocolate that is sugar-free is not going to do any long-term damage in most people, (unless you are in recovery for addiction, in which case, it can lead to relapse) however it should not be part of the diet on a regular basis.

In my personal experience, it does not matter if it is organic processed chocolate, dark chocolate, or raw cacao, they all have the same negative effects. If I would eat any of them they give me a headache, anxiety attacks, hyperactivity, trembling and nervousness, racing heartbeat, irritability, and I’d be up all night. Not only that, my addiction to chocolate comes back full force. If you have a chocolate addiction, it is just like any other addiction, and it will return if you engage with the substance. Knowing what I know about raw cacao and chocolate makes it something that I couldn’t indulge in with good conscience and the price I would pay in symptoms is simply too high. So I steer clear of it completely. If I’m in the mood for a creamy chocolate experience, I will indulge in carob instead. Carob is just as satisfying and doesn’t come with any of the negative effects of raw cacao or chocolate, other than the fact that it is a legume. But an occasional indulgence with a legume is not too detrimental.

Some other very important and rather repulsive facts about chocolate you also want to be aware of are revealed to us in “Poison with a Capital C.” “Every time you eat a chocolate bar, it may contain a rodent hair and 16 insect parts and still carry the blessing of the FDA.” And, “For chocolate powder or cakes there must not be more than 75 insect fragments in three tablespoons of powder.” And, “Four percent of cacao beans may be infested by insects. Animal excreta (such as visible rat droppings) must not exceed 10 milligrams per pound.”

So that may be something you want to think about every time you have a craving for a chocolate bar. On the other hand, I’m sure that this is true of many mass-produced foods like nuts, seeds, and grains and we aren’t aware of it. The mass processing of food would make it inevitable that insects, rodents, and their fecal material would make it into our food supply. Disgusting to think about, but probably a reality.

Here are a few other web pages you may want to visit for more information on raw cacao toxicity:

Proponents of raw cacao like to leave me comments and adamantly proclaim they have no problems eating it and provide me with a list of “so-called” benefits, but that is beside the point. As we have already discussed earlier, we must look at the entire nutritional picture to determine whether something is truly healthy. The existence of some benefits in a food does not override the existence of clear and present dangers. This page does not exist to discuss the benefits, it exists to educate people about the risks and dangers and to validate the experiences of those who are having these negative effects.

Of course, there will be some people who see no negative impacts from the consumption of any form of chocolate. Some people can smoke cigarettes like a freight train and drink alcohol like a fish for their entire lifetime and see no negative results either, but that doesn’t mean it’s something we should all do. If you happen to be blessed with a magnificent set of genes and an autonomic nervous system made of steel, then you might be one of the lucky ones, but not many of us are. By making simple changes in our diet, we can alter the way our genes will express themselves and thus make improvements in our health.

Some people are more sensitive to the chemicals found in chocolate and raw cacao than others. It is typically people who have a very hypersensitive sympathetic nervous system and/or neurotransmitter imbalances, or problems in their detoxification system and these are the people who need to restrict consumption the most.

Anyone who lives with the challenges of any of the following conditions should severely restrict their consumption of chocolate or raw cacao or avoid it all together, because they are some of the most vulnerable to these negative effects: sugar or carb addiction, alcoholism, drug addiction, caffeine addiction, nicotine addiction, PMS, irritable bowel, leaky gut, food sensitivities, Candida overgrowth, neurotransmitter imbalances or deficiencies, adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, chemical sensitivities, hyperactivity, attention deficit, diabetes, type 2 diabetes, depression, compulsive overeaters, anxiety disorders, mood swings, heart disease, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, migraine headaches, hormone imbalances, Tourette’s, autism, anger management issues, outbursts of rage, violence or any other mental health issue or autonomic nervous system disorder.

However, sometimes it can take a while for symptoms to develop. The human body can take a lot of abuse before things go awry. So, if you happen to be someone who eats chocolate with no problem today, it doesn’t mean it will always be that way. Things change as we get older, as we face different stressors and environments and go through other life events. Most people would do well to restrict their consumption regardless of their health status, as the autonomic nervous system can become sensitized and neurotransmitters disrupted over time.

Just because raw cacao or dark chocolate contains antioxidants and minerals like magnesium doesn’t mean it should be eaten. The extremely bitter taste of this substance is nature’s way of providing us with an indicator of the toxins it contains and is supposed to serve as a deterrent. Antioxidants and magnesium can be found in a variety of other healthier foods that don’t contain the dangerous and harmful chemicals that cacao contains. We can get those benefits elsewhere without the risks and negative health effects.

If you need help overcoming your addiction to chocolate or raw cacao, you’ll want to take a look at this page for a summary of the steps necessary.

References
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Drewnowski, A., Krahn, D. D., Demitrack, M. A., Nairn, K. & Gosnell, B. A. (1992) Taste responses and preferences for sweet high-fat foods: evidence for opioid involvement. Physiol. Behav. 51:371-379.

Bruinsma K, Taren DL. Chocolate Food or Drug? J Am Diet Assoc. 1999 Oct99(10):1249-56.

Ashley N. Gearhardt, MS, MPhil Sonja Yokum, PhD, et al. Neural Correlates of Food Addiction Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2011Volume 68 No.(8):808-816.

Jennifer A. Nassera, et al. The Neural Basis of Feeding and Reward: A Tribute to Bart Hoebel. Physiology & Behavior, Volume 104, Issue 1, 25 July 2011, Pages 117–121.

DiFeliceantonio AG, Mabrouk OS, Kennedy RT, Berridge KC. Enkephalin Surges in Dorsal Neostriatum as a Signal to Eat. Current Biology. Published online September 20 2012

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse). Chocolate, A Dangerous Drug.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfeyFY58Hs0

Barnard, Neal, M.D. Breaking the Food Seduction: The Hidden Reasons Behind Food Cravings. St. Martin’s Griffin (September 23, 2004)

di Tomaso E, Beltramo M, Piomelli D. Brain cannabinoids in chocolate. Nature. 1996 Aug 22382(6593):677-8.