San Franciscans are obsessed with 'cacao ceremonies,' where they claim to get high on chocolate

Business Insider | 5/19/2017 | Melia Robinson
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Homemade cacao with a rose petal sprinkle. We SF A.F. Courtesy of @subrosazion 🙌🏼

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A concentrated chocolate brew that is said to induce mind-altering experiences is taking over San Francisco.

The cacao drink is made from raw cocoa beans mixed with chili or cayenne pepper and a sweetener. People say it tastes like bitter coffee cut with dirt.

Quantities - Grams - Mixture - Range - Reactions

When consumed in "ceremonial" quantities (over 40 grams), the mixture produces a wide range of reactions, from feelings of connectness and ecstasy to hallucinations, according to devotees. For centuries, the Aztec and Mayan peoples used the cacao drink as a natural remedy to relieve fever and faintness and improve digestion, among other ailments. Its effectiveness as a hallucinogen has not been established in scientific research, however.

The feelings induced by the plant-based drink are said to be so dramatic, some users compare it to "instant therapy."

San - Francisco - Cacao - Drink - Popularity

In San Francisco, the cacao drink is gaining popularity with the New Age crowd. While you won't find techies sipping on cacao in coffee shops, ceremonies centered on the bean seem to pop up on the calendar of healing collectives, tea houses, and yoga studios on a regular basis.

Palomi Sheth, a holistic wellness coach based in San Francisco, has been experimenting with cacao since she first tried it on a medical mission trip to Peru years ago. She became close with a cook who offered a cup of the cacao drink to her one morning after breakfast.

Sheth - Sensation - Body - Cheeks - Heart

Sheth remembers a warming sensation coming over her body. Her cheeks flushed, and her heart raced. A feeling of openness grew in her chest. "It was magical," Sheth said.

She asked the cook to teach her how to make the brew and learned to perform the ancient Mesoamerican rituals around serving it. Sheth credits the cacao drink with helping her survive marathon study sessions and the blues through medical school.

Birthday - Year - Sheth - Day

For her birthday this year, Sheth spent half the day...
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