A picture of cocoa powder and cocoa beans.

Simon’s Cocoa Guide

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Cacao or cocoa powder is the dried and ground, fully fermented fatty seed of the Theobroma cacao tree.  The tree itself, is native to the deep tropical regions of Central and South America.  Cocoa solids and cocoa butter are extracted from the cocoa beans. These extracts are the main ingredients of chocolate – probably the most popular of the sweets on the planet.

Not many people know that apart from its culinary uses and health benefits, cacao also has mild psychoactive properties and it is one of the few psychoactive plants you can buy at almost any grocery store, along with nutmeg.

There is also some ambiguity regarding, whether or not cocoa and cacao are the same things. Some articles out there seem to “uncover” the differences between the two. They are saying that cacao powder is ground, raw cocoa beans, whilst cocoa powder is made from the processed beans, and has less nutritional value. However, several sources, both official and unofficial suggest that the two are in fact the same, and naming a product “cacao powder” instead of cocoa is merely an excuse for certain health food shops to sell it at a higher price.

The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seems to be using the two words interchangeably in its “Requirements for Specific Standardized Cacao Products” document.

Source: Requirements for Specific Standardized Cacao Products  (FDA)



Interesting facts about Theobroma cacao:


The Aztecs were reported to make intoxicating chocolate cocktails, called (“cacao water”). However, the psychoactive properties of this beverage was largely attributed to additional plants in the mixture

An Aztec painting depicting a shaman drinking a psychoactive "cacahuatl", made from ground cocoa beans and psychoactive herbs.
An Aztec painting depicting a shaman drinking a psychoactive “cacahuatl”.

These cacao drinks were sometimes merely a vehicle for Datura stramonium, possibly DMT-containing Virola barks, psilocybin mushrooms and many other massively psychoactive herbs. These were not exactly the kinds of hot chocolate drinks we associate with christmas fairs.

Source: The Origins of Chocolate, Erowid



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Cocoa guide




Cocoa – legal status


Cocoa is legal in every country around the world.



Buy cocoa


Some cocoa products are available in nearly every grocery store worldwide. However, you have to look for 100%, pure cocoa powder, without added sugar.
If you are trying to experience the full theobromine high you need organic, un processed cocoa beans and nibs, see below.


Buy cocoa – US


A picture of cocoa nibs - made from cocoa beans.
Buy cocoa nibs from the US

If you are interested in experiencing the full spectrum of the psychoactive effects of theobromine I strongly recommend organic, unprocessed cacao nibs.

I recommend buying theobromine rich cocoa nibs from the US here:

Buy cocoa nibs /shipped from the US, credit cards accepted/

Buy organic, unprocessed cocoa – Europe


I cannot currently recommend any shops in Europe, that would sell theobromine rich, organic cacao.




Main active ingredients in cocoa beans


The structure of the theobromine compound - the main active ingredient in cocoa beans, responsible for most psychoactive effects.
Theobromine – one of the active ingredients in cocoa powder

The main active ingredients in cacao beans are theobromine and caffeine.

Generally, caffeine and theobromine are said to be responsible for the psychoactive properties of chocolate.

Studies have shown, that there is approximately 26g of theobromine and 24g of caffeine in 1kg of unprocessed cocoa beans.

Chocolate products also contain considerable amount of theobromine and caffeine. There is substantially more of both substances in dark chocolate. The ‘strongest’ chocolate product of Hersey, called SCHARFFEN BERGER 82% Extra Dark Chocolate Bar for instance, contains 370mg theobromine and 42mg caffeine in a 43g chocolate bar. That is, approximately 8.6g theobromine and 0.98g caffeine per kg.


Simultaneous determination of theobromine, (+)-catechin, caffeine, and (-)-epicatechin in standard reference material baking chocolate 2384, cocoa, cocoa beans, and cocoa butter

Thehersheycompany.com: Caffeine & Theobromine


The effects of cocoa powder – the “cocoa high”


Some consider the “cocoa high” merely a placebo effect and others attribute it to the general pleasure of drinking or eating something very sweet. And other attribute it entirely to caffeine.
However, theobromine is a stimulant, with effects “milder and longer lasting” than caffeine’s. Enhanced mood is often reported as well.

Some claim that they experience a certain high, when drinking shakes and other drinks prepared from large doses of pure cocoa powder.

The reported effects of the cocoa high are:

  • caffeine-like stimulation
  • enhanced mood
  • mild euphoria

Theobromine is also reported to make one urinate more frequently*.

*Source: The Word of Wisdom: Discovering the LDS Code of Health by  Dr. Scott A. Johnson


The dangers of cocoa


Cocoa is generally considered safe. However, almost anything (even water) can be harmful if consumed in overly large quantities.

It has been reported, that very large quantities of theobromine can cause nausea and anorexia.

Also, daily intake of 50-100g cocoa (0.8-1.5g theobromine) over a longer period has been associated with sweating, trembling and severe headaches.

The dangers of cacao are much greater for pets. Household animals, such as dogs and cats metabolise theobromine at a much slower pace than humans and in their case, fatal “chocolate poisoning” is a realistic possibility.  Do not feed your pets chocolate!


World Health Organisation: IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans


Theobroma cacao health benefits


Cocoa has several proven health benefits. First of all, numerous studies have suggested, that cocoa has beneficial effects on cardiovascular diseases. It has also been reported, that regular consumption of dark chocolate bars for 15 days can reduce systolic blood pressure in healthy subjects. The reason for this, is that some ingredients of cocoa cause significant vasodilatation (they dilate blood vessels).

Cocoa also reportedly alleviated symptoms of diabetes during tests.

A study in Switzerland also confirmed that chocolate reduces stress. Following 14 days of regular dark chocolate ingestion, stress parameters in the adults with high anxiety profiles became comparable with the generally low-stress subjects.

There seems to exist a general consensus, that eating lots of chocolate makes one fat. While in practice, this is probably true, studies have shown that some of the components of the cocoa bean actually have anti-obesity effects.  In a study, an identical high fat diet, with or without cocoa, was fed to rats for three weeks. Cocoa consumption led to a significant decrease in total body weight during the test.

Source: Chocolate/cocoa and human health: a review (The Netherlands Journal of Medicine)


Cocoa powder – consumption, preparation


Cocoa powder’s psychoactive effects are only noticeable when consumed in amounts exceeding the everyday dosage. This is not possible just by eating more chocolate. Only very dark chocolate and unprocessed cocoa powder or beans contain enough theobromine to feel anything.

The following is a very very strong chocolate drink made from pure cocoa powder, that is guaranteed to trigger the stimulating effects of cocoa!

For this drink you will need  organic cocoa powder, or pulverise the unprocessed beans or nibs yourself (recommended). The latter option takes a bit more time, but it leads to a much more enjoyable experience.

Go to the next tab, to see how it’s made!

Here is how to do it:

  • Boil around 8 oz (0,23l) milk
  • Add enough pure cocoa powder to the mix, so it turns a “deep, rich, reddish brown colour”
  • Add lots of sugar (optional, otherwise very bitter)
  • Add some cream, about 2 oz (0,05l) – this should make the colour much lighter (also optional)
  • Add more cocoa until it gets dark again
  • Heat it ’till it is quite hot, but don’t let it boil again
  • Stir in about 2oz of chocolate powder and optionally add some more sugar
  • Drink it slowly

This should make you feel comfortable and relaxed, perhaps you will experience some mild euphoria as well. Some people are more sensitive to the effects of theobromine than others.

Source: Erowid: Psychoactive Cocoa



Buy cocoa

To experience a full cacao high I recommend unprocessed, organic cacao beans or powder.

Buy organic, unprocessed cocoa – US


A picture of cocoa nibs - you can buy them shipped from the US.
Buy cocoa nibs from the US

You can buy them here in the US:

Buy cocoa nibs /shipped from the US, credit cards accepted/





Cocoa “trip reports”

Obviously you won’t trip from cocoa. “Trip reports” are simply how  the online legal high community calls any experience with psychoactive substances.

Here are some excerpts from cocoa-experiences, from ordinary people, from all over the web:

“I had read that this bitter, brown powder* is unpalatable (as normal cocoa usually is), so I decided to cap a generously heaped teaspoon of the flour-like substance and wash it down with water.

Within about half an hour, I noticed the stimulating effects of about 5 espressos, with a noticeable tenseness not present in simple caffeine. There was also a euphoria which came in waves of increasing intensity – nothing like the gurning joy of MDMA or the bliss of opiates, but a pleasant, expansive lifting of mood like walking barefoot onto a patio on a sunny morning.”

*X25 cocoa extrat

Source: Erowid Cacao Vault: Not Your Mum’s Hot Cocoa


“I usually begin to feel relaxed and comfortable and happy after about 30 minutes. This feeling builds over the next hour and then slowly fades. I’m not sure if this is because of the alkaloids in the chocolate, or if it is due to the MASSIVE endorphin release that is supposedly happening when you eat something sweet and tasty. Whatever it is, I enjoy it. It is a good time to just sit down and chill out, read the paper, talk to friends, type a friendly e-mail. It isn’t a mind-blowing natural high, and it is not an entheogen by and stretch. It’s just a good feeling that comes from something palatable and fun to make. Happy Cocoa-making.”

Source: Erowid Cacao Vault: Psychoactive Cocoa



If you find this cocoa guide useful please give it a “+1”:

Thank you! It helps my website a lot.


Share your own trip report in the comment section below (to ensure anonymity don’t use your real name or real email address when submitting trip reports)!

Some of the information presented here might be outdated or incorrect (check “last updated” below). If you are planning to try out any of the substances, make sure to research them yourself as well.

I’m 100% committed to safe and responsible legal high consumption. If you have a few minutes to spare please read my blog post about responsible and safe legal drugs use.

Cocoa is only one of the legal highs included in Simon’s legal high guide, check out the others as well.

If you are only interested in legal light drugs, then check out Simon’s legal light drugs for more information. – Coming soon!


Last updated: 2015. 12. 07.

Simon's Cocoa Powder Guide
Article Name
Simon's Cocoa Powder Guide
An overview of the uses, ingredients and effects of cocoa powder. Why cacao can be considered a mild legal high (theobromine) and provide you with an extra-strong cocoa drink recipe, that is guaranteed to trigger the stimulating effects of cocoa.

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