Tag Archives: Hot chocolate

Potentilla fruticosa

Botanical Name: Potentilla fruticosa
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Dasiphora
Species: D. fruticosa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Synonyms: Dasiphora fruticosa. Pentaphylloides fruticosa.

Common Names: Shrubby cinquefoil, Potentilla, Golden hardhack,Bush cinquefoil, Shrubby five-finger, Tundra rose

Habitat : Potentilla fruticosa is native to the cool temperate and subarctic regions of the northern hemisphere, often growing at high altitudes in mountains. It grows on damp rocky ground, usually on limestone.
Description:
Potentilla fruticosa is a deciduous Shrub growing to 1.2 m (4ft) by 1.2 m (4ft in) at a medium rate. The habit is variably upright to sprawling or prostrate, but stems are often ascending especially those stems with many long branches. The bark of older stems is shreddy with long thin strips. The plants are densely leafy, the leaves divided into five or seven (occasionally three or nine) pinnate leaflets. The leaflets are linear-oblong, 3–20 mm (0.1–0.8 in) long, with entire margins and more or less acute ends. The foliage (both leaves and young stems) is pubescent, variably covered in fine silky, silvery hairs about 1 mm long. The flowers are produced terminally on the stems and are 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) cm across, buttercup-shaped, with five petals and 15–25 stamens; the petals are pale to bright yellow (orange to reddish in some western Chinese populations). The fruit is a cluster of achenes covered with long hairs. The species is variably dioecious or bisexual; flowering is typically from early to late summer… from Jun to July. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Bees, flies.The plant is not self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.

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Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.
Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Border, Foundation, Ground cover, Massing, Rock garden, Specimen. Easily grown in a well-drained loam, preferring a position in full sun but tolerating shade. Prefers an alkaline soil but tolerates a slightly acid soil. Prefers a light well-drained soil. Established plants are drought tolerant. A very cold-hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to at least -25°c. A very ornamental shrub, there are many named varieties. Polymorphic. A good bee plant. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer. Dislikes growing under trees, especially Juglans species. Plants are usually dioecious but hermaphrodite forms are also known. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Special Features: North American native, Attracts butterflies, Attractive flowers or blooms.
Propagation:
Seed – sow early spring or autumn in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 3 – 5cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Pot up in the autumn if possible and overwinter in a cold frame. Softwood cuttings taken in the early summer. Easy.

Edible Uses: Tea.
A tea is made from the dried leaves. Used as a substitute for China tea, especially by people living at high elevations in the Himalayas.

Medicinal Uses:
Astringent.
The leaves are astringent. The juice of the root is used in the treatment of indigestion.
Other Uses:
Hedge; Hedge; Incense; Packing; Soil stabilization; Tinder.

Can be grown as a medium size informal hedge. Trim in spring. Some forms, notably ‘Longacre’, ‘Elizabeth’ and ‘Gold Drop‘ have a dense spreading habit and make good ground cover plants. A useful plant for controlling soil erosion. The dry, flaky bark is used as a tinder for friction fires. (fires started by rubbing 2 pieces of wood together very fast). The powdered plant is used as an incense. The leaves are used as a packing material in pillows.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dasiphora_fruticosa
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Potentilla+fruticosa

Red yeast rice (Monascus purpureus)

Dried grain red yeast rice

Image via Wikipedia

Latin name: Monascus purpureus
Other names: Hong Qu, red rice, red yeast
Synonyms:
Alkaloids, angkak, anka, ankaflavin, Asian traditional fermentation foodstuff, astaxanthin, beni-koju, ben-koji, Chinese red yeast rice, citrinin, CRYR, dehydromonacolin K, dietary red yeast, dihydromeyinolin, dihydromonacolin K, dihydromonacolin L, DSM1379, DSM1603, ergosterol, flavonoids, GABA, glycosides, HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, hon-chi, hong qu, hongqu, hung-chu, hydroxymethylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase, KCCM11832, koji, linoleic acid, lovastatin, M9011, mevinolin, monacolin hyroxyacid, monacolin J, monacolin K, monacolin K (hydroxyl acid form), monacolin L, monacolin M, monacolin X, Monascaceae (yeast family), monascopyridine A, monascopyridine B, monascopyridine C, monascopyridine D, monascorubramine, monascorubrin, Monascus , Monascus anka , Monascus purpureus fermentate, Monascus purpureus HM105, Monascus purpureus NTU568, Monascus purpureus Went rice, Monascus ruber , oleic acid, orange anka pigment, palmitoleic acid, Phaffia rhodozyma , red fermented rice, red koji, red leaven, red mould rice, red rice, red rice yeast, red yeast, red yeast rice extract, rice, RICE products, rubropunctamine, rubropunctatin, RYR, RYRE, saponins, statins, stearic acid, xuezhikang, Xue Zhi Kang, yellow anka pigment, zhitai, Zhi Tai.

Definition:

Red yeast rice, red fermented rice, red kojic rice, red koji rice, or ang-kak, is a bright reddish purple fermented rice, which acquires its colour from being cultivated with the mold Monascus purpureus. In Japan, it is known as beni-koji ( lit. “red koji”) or akakoji ( also meaning “red koji”) and in Taiwan it is sometimes also called âng-chau , in Taiwanese. Among the Hakka, it is known as fungkiuk. In China it is widely available under the brand name XueZhiKang, and in Singapore it is available as Hypocol.

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Red yeast rice is sold in jars at Asian markets as a pasteurized wet aggregate, whole dried grains, or as a ground powder. It was a commonly used red food colouring in East Asian and Chinese cuisine prior to the discovery of chemical food colouring. It has also been used in Chinese herbal medicine.

Red yeast rice is the product of yeast ( Monascus purpureus ) grown on rice, and is served as a dietary staple in some Asian countries. It contains several compounds collectively known as monacolins, substances known to inhibit cholesterol synthesis. One of these, “monacolin K,” is a potent inhibitor of HMG-CoA reductase, and is also known as mevinolin or lovastatin (Mevacor®, a drug produced by Merck & Co., Inc).

Red yeast rice extract has been sold as a natural cholesterol-lowering agent in over the counter supplements, such as CholestinTM (Pharmanex, Inc). However, there has been legal and industrial dispute as to whether red yeast rice is a drug or a dietary supplement, involving the manufacturer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the pharmaceutical industry (particularly producers of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor prescription drugs or “statins”).

The use of red yeast rice in China was first documented in the Tang Dynasty in 800 A.D. A detailed description of its manufacture is found in the ancient Chinese pharmacopoeia, Ben Cao Gang Mu-Dan Shi Bu Yi, published during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). In this text, red yeast rice is proposed to be a mild aid for gastric problems (indigestion, diarrhea), blood circulation, and spleen and stomach health. Red yeast rice in a dried, powdered form is called Zhi Tai. When extracted with alcohol it is called Xue Zhi Kang.

Red yeast rice has been used in China as a preservative, spice, and food coloring. It’s used to give Peking duck its characteristic red color and can also be an ingredient in fish sauce, fish paste, and rice wine. Red yeast rice is used in traditional Chinese medicine as a remedy for poor circulation, indigestion, and diarrhea.

Red yeast rice contains naturally-occurring substances called monacolins. Monocolins, particularly one called lovastatin, is believed to be converted in the body to a substance that inhibits HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme that triggers cholesterol production. This is the way the popular statin drugs work.

Because of this action, red yeast rice products containing a higher concentration of monocolins have been developed and marketed as a natural product to lower cholesterol.

The problem is that the primary ingredient in these supplements, lovastatin, is also the active pharmaceutical ingredient in prescription drugs for high cholesterol such as Mevacor. In fact, lovastatin was originally derived from another type of red yeast called Monascus ruber.

Production:-
Red yeast rice is produced by cultivating Monascus purpureus on polished rice. The rice is first soaked in water until the grains are fully saturated. The raw soaked rice can then either be directly inoculated, or steamed for the purpose of sterilizing and cooking the grains prior to inoculation. Inoculation is done by mixing M. purpureus spores or powdered red yeast rice together with the processed rice. The mix is then incubated in an environment around room temperature for 3–6 days. During this period of time, the rice should be fully cultured with M. purpureus, with each rice grain turning bright red in its core and reddish purple on the outside.

The fully cultured rice is then either sold as the dried grain, or cooked and pasteurized to be sold as a wet paste, or dried and pulverized to be sold as a fine powder. China is the world’s largest producer of red yeast rice.

Due to the high cost of chemical dyes, some producers of red yeast rice have tried to adulterate their products with red dye #2 Sudan Red G (in Chinese).

Uses:

Culinary

The dried grain can be prepared and eaten in the same manner as white rice–a common practice among Asians. It can also be added to other foods.

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Red yeast rice is used to colour a wide variety of food products, including pickled tofu, red rice vinegar, char siu, Peking Duck, and Chinese pastries that require red food colouring. It is also traditionally used in the production of several types of Chinese wine, Japanese sake (akaisake), and Korean rice wine (hongju), imparting a reddish colour to these wines.

Although used mainly for its colour in cuisine, red yeast rice imparts a subtle but pleasant taste to food.

Traditional Chinese Medicine
In addition to its culinary use, red yeast rice is also used in traditional Chinese herbology and traditional Chinese medicine. Its use has been documented as far back as the Tang Dynasty in China in 800 A.D. and taken internally to invigorate the body, aid in digestion, and remove “blood blockages”.

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Modern Medicine
Red yeast rice when produced using the ‘Went’ strain of Monascus purpureus contains significant quantites of the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor lovastatin which is also known as mevinolin, a naturally-occurring statin. It is sold as an over the counter dietary supplement for controlling cholesterol (See ref.: Medicine Net). There is strong scientific evidence for its effect in lowering blood levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein/LDL (“bad cholesterol”), and triglyceride levels (see below). Because an approved drug is identical to the molecule it is therefore regulated as a drug by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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In 1998, the U.S. district court in Utah allowed a product containing red yeast rice extract known as Cholestin to be sold without restriction, but this was reversed on appeal. (Moore, 2001) (see ref.: PDRhealth). Cholestin as a product continues to be marketed but no longer contains red yeast rice (RYR). Other companies sell red yeast rice products but most of them use a different strain of yeast or different growing conditions, resulting in RYR with a negligible statin content. The labeling on these new products often says nothing about cholesterol lowering. As late as August 2007, FDA noted supplements being sold containing significant lovastatin levels.(FDA, 2007)

In 2006 Liu et al published a meta-analysis of clinical trials (Chinese Med 2006;1:4-17). The article cited 93 published, controlled clinical trials (91 published in Chinese). Total cholesterol decreased by 35 mg/dl, LDL-cholesterol by 28 mg/dl, triglycerides by 35 mg/dl, and HDL-cholesterol increased by 6 mg/dl. Zhao et al reported on a four-year trial in people with diabetes (J Cardio Pharmacol 2007;49:81-84). There was a 40-50% reduction in cardio events and cardio deaths in the treated group. Ye et al reported on a four-year trial in elderly Chinese patients with heart disease (J Am Geriatr Soc 2007;55:1015-22). Deaths were down 32%. There is at least one report in the literature of a statin-like myopathy caused by red yeast rice (Mueller PS. Ann Intern Med 2006;145:474-5).

An article in the June 15, 2008, issue of the American Journal of Cardiology found that red yeast rice may provide benefits beyond those provided by statins. The researchers reported that the benefits seemed to exceed those reported with lovastatin alone.

ConsumerLab.com found large variation in the active compounds between red yeast rice supplements, and also found that some of them were contaminated with citrinin, a nephrotoxic mycotoxin. Evidence about the side effects of red yeast rice is limited, but it may have similar side effects to the drug lovastatin, which include kidney problems and other side effects.[4] Regular medical monitoring is needed to detect such effects.

Evidence:
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Uses based on scientific evidence :-

High cholesterol
Since the 1970s, human studies have reported that red yeast lowers blood levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein/LDL (“bad cholesterol”), and triglyceride levels. Other products containing red yeast rice extract can still be purchased, mostly over the Internet. However, these products may not be standardized and effects are not predictable. For lowering cholesterol, there is better evidence for using prescription drugs such as lovastatin…..GRADE: A

Coronary heart disease
Preliminary evidence shows that taking Monascus purpureus by mouth may result in cardiovascular benefits and improve blood flow. Additional study is needed before a firm recommendation can be made…GRADE: C

Diabetes
Early human evidence suggests the potential for benefits in diabetics. Additional study is needed before a firm recommendation can be made….GRADE C

Key to grades :-
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;
B: Good scientific evidence for this use;
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;
D: Fair scientific evidence against this use;
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use.

Regulation:-
Red yeast rice is classified as a dietary supplement by the FDA. Because of its similarity to the statin drugs, there is an ongoing legal debate about whether red yeast rice should be reclassified as a prescription drug rather than a dietary supplement.

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Uses based on tradition or theory :-
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Acetaminophen toxicity, anthrax, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, blood circulation problems, bruised muscles, bruises, cancer, colic in children, cuts, diarrhea, digestion, dysentery (bloody diarrhea), exercise performance enhancement, food additive (coloring), food preservative, hangover, high blood pressure, HIV (associated hyperlipidemia), immunosuppression, indigestion, liver disorders, metabolic disorders, obesity, ovarian cancer, postpartum problems, spleen problems, stomach problems, weight loss, wounds.

Dosing:
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)
1,200 milligrams of concentrated red yeast powder capsules have been taken two times per day by mouth with food.

The average consumption of naturally occurring red yeast rice in Asia has been reported as 14-55 grams per day.

Children (younger than 18 years)
There is not enough scientific evidence to recommend red yeast for children.

Safety:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies
There is one report of anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) in a butcher who touched meat containing red yeast.

Side Effects and Warnings:-
There is limited evidence on the side effects of red yeast. Mild headache and abdominal discomfort can occur. Side effects may be similar to those for the prescription drug lovastatin (Mevacor®). Heartburn, gas, bloating, muscle pain or damage, dizziness, asthma, and kidney problems are possible. People with liver disease should not use red yeast products.

In theory, red yeast may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary. A metabolite of Monascus called mycotoxin citrinin may be harmful.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Prescription drugs with similar chemicals as red yeast cannot be used during pregnancy. Therefore, it is recommended that pregnant or breastfeeding women not take red yeast.

Interactions:-
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs
There are not many studies of the interactions of red yeast rice extract with drugs. However, because red yeast rice extract contains the same chemicals as the prescription drug lovastatin, the interactions may be the same. Fibrate drugs or other cholesterol-lowering medications may cause additive effects or side effects when taken with red yeast. Alcohol and other drugs that may be toxic to the liver should be avoided with red yeast rice extract. Taking cyclosporine, ranitidine (Zantac®), and certain antibiotics with red yeast rice extract may increase the risk of muscle breakdown or kidney damage.

Certain drugs may interfere with the way the body processes red yeast using the liver’s “cytochrome P450” enzyme system. Inhibitors of cytochrome P450 may increase the chance of muscle and kidney damage if taken with red yeast.

In theory, red yeast may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (“blood thinners”) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).

Red yeast may produce gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and therefore can have additive effects when taken with drugs that affect GABA such as neurontin (Gabapentin®).

Red yeast may also interact with digoxin, niacin, thyroid medications, and blood pressure-lowering medications. Caution is advised.

Red yeast may alter blood sugar levels; patients with diabetes or taking insulin or blood sugar-lowering medications by mouth should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

Red yeast may interact with products that cause liver damage or are broken down in the liver. Grapefruit juice may increase blood levels of red yeast. Milk thistle, St. John’s wort, niacin, and vitamin A may interact with red yeast rice extract. Coenzyme Q10 levels may be lowered by red yeast rice extract. Cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements such as guggul or fish oils may have increased effects when taken with red rice yeast. Although not well studied, red yeast may also interact with astaxanthin and zinc. Caution is advised.

Certain herbs and supplements may interfere with the way the body processes red yeast using the liver’s “cytochrome P450” enzyme system. Inhibitors of cytochrome P450 may increase the chance of muscle and kidney damage if taken with red yeast.

In theory, red yeast may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba , and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.

Red yeast may also interact with digitalis (foxglove), or herbs and supplements that affect the thyroid or blood pressure. It may also have anti-inflammatory effects and should be used cautiously with other herbs or supplements that may have anti-inflammatory effects.

Red yeast may alter blood sugar levels in the blood, and patients with diabetes or taking herbs and supplement to control blood sugar should use with caution.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

.
You may Click to see :->

>Red Yeast Rice as Herbals & Supplements

>Red Yeast Rice and Cholesterol
Are there Side Effects of Red Yeast Rice?

>Most important information about red yeast rice

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_yeast_rice
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-redyeast.html#skip
http://altmedicine.about.com/od/herbsupplementguide/a/redyeastrice.htm

 

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Can Chocolate Benefit Your Health & Brain?

A special cocoa, designed to retain naturally occurring flavanols, could help maintain healthy brain function. This could eventually lead to new weapons against cognitive decline and dementia.

Several studies have indicated that flavanols could improve blood vessel function.

For example, research has shown that the indigenous population living on islands near Panama, who consume a type of cocoa rich in flavanols on a daily basis, also experience unusually low rates of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

The relative risk of death from heart disease on the Panama mainland is 1,280 percent higher than on the islands.

These benefits might also extend to the brain, and could have effects on learning and memory. British researchers studied the results on the brains of young women by studying their brains via magnetic resonance imaging while completing a complex task.

Consumption of the special cocoa resulted in regional changes in brain blood flow for as long as three hours, meaning that cocoa flavanols may have potential as a treatment of vascular damage within the brain.

One of these flavanols — epicatechin — is responsible for the vascular benefits the Kuna Indians, mentioned above, experience when they drank certain cocoas. Epicatechin results in improved circulation and higher levels of nitric oxide in the blood.

The beneficial chocolate bioflavanoids are actually in the relatively cacao bean.

Not only can consuming small amounts of this type of chocolate protect your heart, it may also enhance blood flow to your brain and improve your cognitive health as you age.

Before you run to the grocery store in search of the perfect chocolate, however, scientists agree patients receive the most benefits from minimally-processed dark chocolate. Some guidelines to keep in mind about consuming chocolate;

Consume chocolate only in moderation.

Stay with dark chocolate because it has antioxidant properties that protect your body from oxidative stress.

Eat chocolate only if you’re healthy.

From a nutritional perspective, most people know that there are better foods to eat than chocolate, though from a pleasure perspective plenty of people would disagree.
However, many people are reluctant to give up chocolate even though they know it’s not the best food out there, and most people feel they are depriving themselves if they don’t allow themselves a treat every so often.

If You’re Not Healthy, Don’t Eat It
Chocolate, even if it is dark, still contains large quantities of sugar, and eating sugar is one of the most devastating things you can do to your health. If you’re sick, your immune system is working hard to combat your illness, but sugar weakens the immune system. So eating chocolate will only make it harder for your immune system to fight the illness.

If you have a chronic health problem, the most important physical thing you can do for your health is to stop all sugar. If you want to know more about the negative effects of sugar, check out Nancy Appleton’s article, “124 Ways Sugar Can Ruin Your Health.”

Avoid Eating Too Much Chocolate
Even if you’re healthy, you don’t want to eat huge amounts of chocolate. The key is to eat it in moderation (something like once every two weeks) and enjoy it when you eat it. A small bit of chocolate can be very satisfying if you savor each bite, rather than just wolfing it down.

It’s also important to recognize when you eat chocolate. If you are constantly craving sweets, you are likely not eating the correct balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates for your Metabolic Type. If you tend to crave chocolate when you are upset, bored or lonely, then you could benefit from resolving these underlying emotional issues (and we all have them) that are driving you to seek comfort from chocolate.

It’s also possible to be addicted to chocolate. If you have chocolate cravings that are just too strong to pass up, then this likely applies to you.

Help taken from:Mercola.com

Cacao (Chocolate)

Botanical Name :Theobroma cacao
Family: Malvaceae
Genus:     Theobroma
Species: T. cacao
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Malvales

Common Names :Cacao tree and Cocoa tree.

Cacao (Theobroma cacao) belongs to the genus Theobroma classified under the subfamily Sterculioidea of the mallow family Malvaceae. Cacao is one of 22 species of Theobroma.

The generic name is derived from the Greek for “food of the gods”;

The specific name cacao is derived from the native name of the plant in indigenous Mesoamerican languages. The cacao was known as kakaw in Tzeltal, K’iche’ and Classic Maya; kagaw in Sayula Popoluca; and cacahuatl[dubious – discuss] in Nahuatl.
Cacao flowers.

Cupuaçu, Theobroma grandiflorum, is a closely related species found in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. Like cacao, it is also the source for a kind of chocolate known as cupulate or cupuaçu chocolate. Cupuaçu is considered as having high potential by the food and cosmetics industries

Habitat :Theobroma cacao is native to the deep tropical regions of Central and South America. Its seeds, cocoa beans, are used to make cocoa mass, cocoa powder, and chocolate.

 

Description:

Leaves are alternate, entire, unlobed, 10–40 cm (3.9–15.7 in) long and 5–20 cm (2.0–7.9 in) broad.

The flowers are produced in clusters directly on the trunk and older branches; this is known as cauliflory. The flowers are small, 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) diameter, with pink calyx. While many of the world’s flowers are pollinated by bees (Hymenoptera) or butterflies/moths (Lepidoptera), cacao flowers are pollinated by tiny flies, Forcipomyia midges in the order Diptera. The fruit, called a cacao pod, is ovoid, 15–30 cm (5.9–11.8 in) long and 8–10 cm (3.1–3.9 in) wide, ripening yellow to orange, and weighs about 500 g (1.1 lb) when ripe. The pod contains 20 to 60 seeds, usually called “beans”, embedded in a white pulp. The seeds are the main ingredient of chocolate, while the pulp is used in some countries to prepare refreshing juice, smoothies, jelly, and nata. Each seed contains a significant amount of fat (40–50%) as cocoa butter. Their most noted active constituent is theobromine, a compound similar to caffeine.

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Although not often considered to be a spice, the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree deserve to be thought of as an exotic, aromatic, flavor with medicinal values, i.e. as a spice. It originated in the Yucatan area of Mexico, and it was used as a hot drink by the Maya and as a cold, sweetened drink by the Aztecs. Linnaeus chose to call the chocolate tree Theobroma, meaning “food of the gods”, since it was used as an offering by the Maya and Aztecs in their religious ceremonies. The word “cacao” is from the Mayan, ka-ka-io; the word chocolate comes from Mayan “chocol” (hot) and Nahuatl “alt” (water) implying that the chocolate content of the bean was extracted by hot water.

click to see  the pictures.…..(01)....(1).…....(2)..…...(3).….…(4)....…………….

The Spanish brought chocolate beans to Europe in 1544, but the original criollo cacao trees have since been replaced by a variety of the tree called forastero; this has resulted in a blander form of chocolate which now comes from many parts of the world, including West Africa. The harvesting of cocoa pods in some African countries has become notorious, since it is based essentially on slave labor. Over the centuries and in different countries, chocolate has been enjoyed in many different forms and flavors. The Mayans added vanilla and chile to it, and this exists today as mole. Allspice, annatto, cinnamon, mace and other spices have been added to this sauce; less popular were combinations including ambergris (a secretion of sperm whales), musk, jasmine, lemon peel and so on. Sweetening with honey or sugar and the addition of milk made chocolate drinks and confections more addictive.

At one time, chocolate houses were as popular in Europe as coffee houses have become in the U.S.A. Schivelbusch comments that coffee was a “Protestant, northern drink” while chocolate was its “Catholic, southern counterpart”. However, as chocolate and cocoa spread from the aristocratic courts of Spain to become a more mundane drink in France, it became a more social, Bohemian, non-alcoholic alternative social drink in England and other northern countries. Eventually, the chocolaty drink, cocoa, declined in importance as it became a beverage directed at children, as an alternative to tea and coffee. Nevertheless, countries such as Switzerland and Belgium produced famous varieties of chocolate confections that appeal to ordinary and sophisticated consumers who accept that their delight in the product is a mild addiction, based on the sweetness and the deliciousness of the manufactured product. Surely, this makes the chocolate seed a spice, equal to spicy flavors such as vanilla and cinnamon.
Useful Parts:
All cocoa beans are fermented, dried, roasted, crushed into nibs or pieces, then further ground into a liquid mass usually containing 50% cocoa butter.” (Mulherin. Spices, 1992)

Constituents:  caffeine, flavonoids, phenylethylalamine, anandamide, magnesium, sulfur, oleic acid, theobromine, tryptophan
Medicinal Properties * Antioxidant * Aphrodisiac * Diuretic * Emmenagogue * Stimulant
The theobromine content may stimulate the brain, since it is an xanithine similar to coffee. Recently, the polyphenols in chocolate have been generously praised as being potent anti-oxidants that may prevent degenerative diseases, thus reducing the guilt sensations of chocaholics. However, true medicinal values have not been established for pure chocolate.

Medicinal Uses: * Cholesterol * Cough * Diet/weight Loss * Eczema * Hypertension * Nutrition

Chocolate is made from the fermented, roasted and ground beans taken from the pods of the tropical cacao tree. Cacao Theobroma, named for the Latin ‘food of the gods’, contains oleic acid which may raise good cholesterol. There is plenty more good news for those of us who are chocolate lovers. Dark chocolate’s cacao content has been shown to have positive effects on mood swings, coughing, high blood pressure 119 and even contains antibacterial agents that fight tooth decay. Chocolate contains stearic acid, which does not raise bad cholesterol levels, and cocoa butter which is in chocolate, contains oleic acid, which actually may raise good cholesterol.

There are over 350 known chemicals found in chocolate, including stimulants like caffeine, theobromine, phenylethylamine and anandamide. Theobromine, the alkaloid contained in the beans, resembles caffeine in its action, but its effect on the central nervous system is less powerful and does not have the sleep disturbing effects of caffeine. It may actually be a more effective cough medicine than traditional remedies making it a safe nighttime calmer for children. 120

Phenylethylamine (PEA) is partly responsible for the “high” that you get from eating chocolate. PEA facilitates the release of dopamine a naturally occurring chemical into your body. The neurotransmitter anandamide, also found in chocolate is responsible for the prolonged pleasurable sensation of the previous mentioned PEA. This positive feeling can help support your diet goals along with cardiovascular exercise and reduced calorie intake. Whatever the reason recent studies show that adults who eat chocolate on a regular basis are actually thinner that those who don’t and that modest, regular chocolate consumption might be calorie-neutral. 3

Chocolate – what women want!

Chocolate enjoys an reputation as an aphrodisiac, which may explain the tradition of chocolates and Valentines day. It’s interesting to note that most researchers claim that women prefer chocolate over sex. Cocoa Butter is an aromatic solid butter pressed from the roasted seeds of the cacao tree that brings a supple, luxurious feel to dry skin.

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Historical View:
Cacao butter has been but lately introduced into the British and United States pharmocopoeias, but it has been long used on the Continent. It is peculiarly well adapted from its consistency, blandness, and freedom from rancidity, for the preparation of suppositories for which purpose it is official. It is also used as a basis for pessaries, as an ingredient in cosmetic ointments, and for coating pills and other purposes.”

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Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theobroma_cacao
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail247.php
Medicinal Spices