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Cacao...~yummy AND enemy to adrenals~

Cacao...~yummy  AND enemy to adrenals~

So I was doing my weekly grocery shopping and thought I'd treat myself to a delicious, chocolatey delight.

Mmmm...the cacao tasted amazing, after such a long break from..well, any kind of niceties. I made a hot drink and added some healthy coconut oil for kicks! ;)

That night, my heart started doing crazy things and I had shortness of breath. Now, I had recently started back on my thyroid meds,{ but only on 25mcg } so I figured perhaps it is just that, but I'm so careful. It didn't make sense!

The following day, I had the most unbelievable fatigue...I did make another cacao drink and put the tiredness down to something else. Bottom line, my heart went haywire again and while I may look energetic in my profile pic, the tiredness hasn't left. *Yawn...zZzzzzzz......*

*The one and only thing I added to my diet or changed in any way, was the cacao. Having read up on it, I have learned, that adrenals don't like this stimulant and the liver becomes taxed also.

Simply sharing my experiences, as a word of caution.

Conclusion: It's yummy, it's heaven in a jar, for God's sake...but it's no friend to those of us with adrenal issues.

With love and tinge of sadness for you fellow chocolate lovers,

Purr Jones

41 Replies

Sorry to hear that, Purr. What a shame!

So what exactly is in this 'cacao'? The word cacao is French for cocoa and I've drunk cocoa many times with no ill effect. But you say 'chocolate substitute', so I don't really understand...




When I wrote 'substitute'...I meant it in terms of not eating chocolate bars, which obv contain sugar/gluten/wheat/milk sometimes.

I think it's a case of 'You Say Tomato, I Say Cacao', where Cacao & Cocoa are concerned. Manufacturers of raw food products have usurped the more authentic spelling of the word, in an attempt to distinguish their products from products which use roasted cacao beans (i.e. raw cacao powder vs. cocoa powder).

They basically come from the same plant, but cacao is the raw form, whereas cocoa is the roasted.

What I have discovered about cacao since is that it acts as a stimulant and agitates the kidneys and adrenal glands this can cause: insomnia, nightmares, waking up in the middle of the night, shakes, and extreme energy shifts.

Perhaps, if you have no adrenal issues and you only use cocoa now and then, it's not going to be a problem, but that's a whole n'other blog! ;)



P.S-> You might wonder why cacao would make his heart race? Its due to the caffeine and theobromine, a sister molecule to caffeine, the same chemical that kills many dogs when they eat chocolate! The adrenal glands rev up metabolism so as to quickly eliminate the offensive substance. This is called stimulated energy which is always followed by fatigue, and therefore a desire for more of the stimulant. Voilá!


Oh, believe me, I do have ‘issues’ with my adrenals! Have had most of my life, I think. But I have never experienced the symptoms you describe after eating chocolate or drinking cocoa.

However, I did work in the chocolate industry for several years when I was younger, and as far as I know, all cocoa beans are roasted. From what I’ve know of raw cocoa beans – and I saw quite a lot of them – I really don’t think you could grind down the unroasted beans and make a drink from the powder. It wouldn’t be soluble. (Ground roasted beans aren’t soluble either, that’s why you have to add a lecithin emulsifier – usually soy. But that bit of the soy, as far as I know, isn’t harmful to hypos – although, your symptoms do sound like a reaction to soy rather than anything else…)

And if you did manage to make a drink from the unroasted beans, I very much doubt it would taste like ‘heaven in a jar’. Probably wouldn’t even taste much like chocolate.

So I’m still confused.

Maybe you would be better off using conventional roasted-bean cocoa. It certainly contains caffeine, but not as much as coffee, and now they’re saying coffee isn’t as bad as it’s cracked up to be. So…



Hehe! Yes, you do sound confused, GG.

All I can tell you, is that all chocolate is made from cacao, the edible part of the cocoa bean after it has been harvested, dried, fermented, and hulled.

Google 'Raw Cacao' or......

Here's a Youtube Video of a girl eating it.


P.S- And you're correct that it tastes a lot more bitter than your average chocolate drink...which is why you only use a tiny bit! Anyhoooooo, it's not for me!



Perhaps it would help to sort out the confusion if you told us exactly what product it is that you used, preferably supplying a direct link to it on a website, but if not, post the brand/manufacturer name and actual list of ingredients as stated on the container.

Also, explain exactly how you made it into a drink i.e. what did you use to 'dissolve' the powder (and was it hot or cold when you added it) plus anything else that you added.

The more information you give, the less room there is for confusion :)


Hey Red,

Natasha's Raw & Living Foods...It's called Mayan Cacao Love...she describes it as 'the original mayan cacao paste'...and yes, in tiny writing, she lists ingredients...one of them being raw dark agave! I had presumed it was more pure.

I dissolved a half teaspoon of paste into hot water and added coconut oil.

Another thing, I eat very purely, with NO stimulants...which is why it would affect me immediately and strongly.

Thanks for your patience, RedApple.


Interesting. It's not listed on her website but a quick google came up with this comment in 2011 on another site

a real grown up’s version of Nutella (cacao paste, agave & a touch of chilli) which can be used either as a spread or a drink. dungarvanhealthstore.ie/?p=550

So, maybe the agave is contributing to the symptoms by causing an insulin problem? Which would also tie in with Spareribs expereince when eating a choc eclair, and why Craftingbird can't eat more than 4 chocs.

Obviously we're all different, but IMHO sugar causes far more problems than cacao or cocoa :)


Indeed, perhaps! Although, I wouldn't have posted without checking the facts on cacao....there are differing opinions on whether or not it is a 'superfood'.

You will see, if you even do a simple Google search, that many people in the 'raw food world' have had negative experiences with this stimulant, some involving heart palpitations and it's been stated that it affects the adrenals.

However, everyone is different and I wish many chocolate-eating years on those who can enjoy cacao and cocoa and any of these products, without any hassle!!

This blog post was never about scaring people away from chocolate...as stated, I was sharing an experience.



Well, I know how to make chocolate - more than you, I suspect - as I said, I worked in the chocolate industry.

Thank you for the video of a girl NOT eating raw cacao! I imagine you watched this after you'd had the drink and not before, because she tells us how bad it can be for you. She had the problems you had.

And she said that it also depends on what else is mixed in with the raw cacao. And there must have been something mixed in with your powder or, as I explained before, you wouldn't have been able to mix it with a liquid to make a drink. It isn't soluble. So what else was in it? Soy lecithin?

But this has nothing to do with chocolate per se. Nothing to do with spareribs chocolate eclair and nothing to do with craftingbird's Christmas boxes.

You really should have explained what exactly you were talking about, and the difference, in your original blog and then you wouldn't have scared a lot of people off chocolate. I doubt many people know of the existance of raw chocolate called 'cacao' as opposed to your average bar of Cadbury's milk!

I don't think it's ME that's confused.




Spareribs, I was not trying to scare anyone off chocolate. I was warning about cacao and adrenals and merely sharing an experience.

I didn't watch the video beforehand...obviously...and you're correct in saying she isn't eating it in the video. She does show the bean and talks about eating it...

I was merely trying my best to answer your questions. You said you were confused...I simply agreed.


How well we handle stimulants like choc depends on liver enzymes. Some people detox so fast there are no effects, others don't. All choc in whatever form contains stimulants. There's no way round it. (I've tried-lots!)


Absolutely, Beech!

Chocolate is delicious...and I'd eat it all day, if I could get away with it. :D My body doesn't like stimulants and what you eat can have a huge impact on Hashimoto's.

I had to start my healing journey by eliminating stimulants and chemicals. I did want to try cacao though and I learned a lesson. It could possibly be different for those of you who have a low thyroid but not the autoimmune component? If so, share!??

I am talking here about cacao...not chocolate, but you're completely right, all chocs contain stimulants, by their very nature!!

Have a great Sunday,

Purr J :)


I know its not same, but have you tried carob? Not vegetable fat rubbish, but powder mixed with coconut fat?


Hi Beech!

No, I actually haven't...but I will and I'll post a comment about how it goes down. :)

Thank you


Cacao is just another form of choc only it can be unprocessed, but it makes no difference. Carob is a totally (less gorgeous!) different plant.


Uh-huh! Way less....I tried it years ago. I was kid, in a health-food store and just thought I was buying the real deal (choccies). Imagine my surprise? ;)

Interesting facts re carob : It contains natural tyrosine help the body produce the thyroid hormones. Also. carob binds to heavy metals.....hmm....


This explains alot... I got given 3 boxes of chocolates over xmas and have been having a few a night when I'm in bed reading. I'm alright with 4 but if I have 5 my heart starts beating faster and very stongly and this can last quite a while. I'd already made the association between the two but couldn't for the life of me understand why it was happening? Cx


Hey there, Bird,

Definitely listen to your wee body....I guess a little of it is ok for you...but not a lot! You lucky devil. ;)

PurrJones x


Thanks for that,you have learned a lesson for all of us.x


Haha! I sure have, Beaton....an exhausting one...but every little helps, eh? x


Interesting. Luckily I've gone off chocolate but do confess to having an eclair at work last week, (someone's birthday) it probably wasn't even proper chocolate, but I too got palpitaion-like feelings and went and sat on the loo to calm down a while before going back in the office. Same with chocolate cake (the odd carrot or lemon cake is fine! lol)

Weird. Just trying to identify what does this as I wasn't particularly worried at the time either. I get the same feeling after an injection at the dentist too - perhaps those adrenals need sorting (as well as trying to sort out Thyroid!) J :D



Are you sure an attractive person didn't walk in to the work party, as that too, can make ones heart beat fast! ;)

Yes, I think it just highlights the adrenal issues. I know that it seems like a task when we already have dodgy thyroids to sort out...but really it's all part of the same thang.

I hope my adrenals get back to being, at least wherever they were, pre-cacao....

PurrJones :D


He he - I wish! no eye candy at my work!

Purr - I just haven't got my brain fogged head around the adrenal thing yet, I even have nutriA in the cupboard, but even nutriT gave me palps - I asked GP for a trial of Levo T4 to start, but they won't consider it as my TSH in range. So I just avoid stuff that makes me worse, but I also want to join in celebrations with everyone else! It's good you've identified what it is for you. We should listen to our bodies shouldn't we? Jane :D



I hear ya, loud n' clear...and I feel for you.

The book I'm reading at the moment is called 'Why do I still have thyroid symptoms, when my lab tests are normal?' It seems to happen....a lot!

My heart was racing for years and I had thyroid tests done also, which of course, were 'normal'...now I have Hashimoto's. I never got my antibodies checked though, until last year...perhaps you should put some pressure on your G.P for this.

You're so correct, we gotta learn to be master intuitives, with what we eat and do, which is how I KNEW it was the cacao giving me palps. You are hyper-alert to all the small changes, but sure, it can drive you barmy too...;)

Keep doing what you're doing and you will get there! I wish you all the best, SP...especially mega-health & happiness.



THANKS FOR THAT I WOULD HAVE BOUGHT IT too but have adrenal isues. funny but adrebal issuses ar esuch taboo and meantto be rare but actualy its RIFE!- THE MEDICS ARE IN DENIAL ON THIS.


Hey Pettals!

Thanks for popping by....

Yeah...I totally agree about that.

'Adrenal fatigue' doesn't even exist in the medical world!!



i find it APPALLING!


In my opinion, the whole medical paradigm needs an overhaul, Pettals!


Cacao is not a chocolate substitute, it is real chocolate before it has been cooked and sweetened. It is like eating 99% dark chocolate. I though Dr M used it for her brain fog chocolate.


Cacao is not a chocolate substitute, it is real chocolate before it has been cooked and sweetened. It is like eating 99% dark chocolate. I though Dr M used it for her brain fog chocolate.

Agave is a really bad thing to eat - pure processed sugar syrup.


Hey there!

I explained what I meant by substitute in an earlier post. I don't know much about Dr.M...but yeah, maybe.

Thanks for your comments Angel! :)


See recipe for Coconut oil chocolate on Dr M's website here:


Haven't tried it myself, but sounds yummy :)


Mmmmm...delish! :D



Here is a post re: 'Raw' Agave syrup, for those of you who are interested in that aspect of this conversation(Thank you RedApple) .

I knew very little about agave either and my original points regarding cacao still stand. I'm not the first person to experience heart palpitations from consuming it, it is yummy and it does affect the adrenals.


Just a rapid thought.

It may be something of an allergic reaction type episode. Have you thought about the possibility of the coconut oil playing a part in this . I only ask as my son is very allergic to coconut and if I have any dedicated form of covonut I will have similar symptoms,

It can be from a drop in b/p and a knock on effect off a rapid heart rate.

Although it does seem fairly straight forward that it's the cacao. Take care I thank you for the information.


Hey Pittuco,

Thanks for highlighting this....you're quite right about the coconut allergies. It doesn't feature in my case, however..and I use/eat coconut oil every day. ~Mmmm...nice!~

I wish it was anythin' BUT the cacao...so thanks, you made me smile...<---chocoholic wannabe!



Thanks for sharing your experience. I knew the 'cacao' that you referred to as I am very interested in the raw food lifestyle( even though I think that it would be difficult to follow! ) I love to read the stories of people regaining their health. A few years ago I ordered some raw cacao bars after becoming intrigued, reading all about raw cacao being a superfood. They were quite bitter. I don't know if raw cacao is good for you or not but I know that it definitely isn't once it's been highly processed- shame!



Hey CarolineAnne!

I love that you're post is so positive. :)

I too, am interested in the raw food lifestyle and was a vegetarian for 14 years too. I recently started introducing meat to my diet again, after several resources told me eating meat was necessary for healing the thyroid. Has anyone else heard this? I also eat a lot of raw veg and healthy veg juices. A little fruit.

I personally eat a lot of almond butter for protein {and calories}, and when I do, I feel satisfied without meat.

Yes, the cacao is not as creamy or chocolatey as your regular Cadbury's...but I did want to give it a go.

Thanks for writing and sharing, ;)



Yes raw organic cacao is totally delicious,, but I suppose that it still has caffein in it, and would make some peoples hearts race, I have lots of it, and don't have that problem, and I am hypo.


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