Are Cacao and Chocolate Addictive?
Short answer, no. The long answer is just another question. That's, "Are you sensitive to caffeine?" If you are, cacao may keep you up at night but that is actually just the effect of theobromine. It's not a side-effect. Theobromine is a non-addictive stimulant found in its highest amounts in cacao. Readers who are not sensitive to caffeine, will have no problem digesting and processing the stimulant in cacao.
Cacao has no known side-effects at all and is contraindicated for people with heart conditions and pregnant people in their third trimester, migraine sufferers and thats it! Its not addictive. Cacao, the raw ingredient in chocolate, does not contain caffeine in amounts over 1/50th of a cup of coffee, or sometimes none at all. Some chocolate has added caffeine though. Whats up with that?! Naturally, the caffeine amount in cacao is so low it has no effect on you or your central nervous system! Cacao is a stimulant though. That chemical again is called theobromine and it is a sister to caffeine.
Theobromine is amazing! It stimulates the pineal gland. Factually. This gland mitigates pleasure hormones and functions like our eyeballs. It has rods and cones in it that respond to light. Sure. It's our third eye. Sure... Theobromine also aids in;
reducing symptoms of lung conditions like asthma through bronchodialation
improving tooth-surface-hardness more effectively than flouride
relieving sore throats more effectively than cough syrup increases mental calmness anti-inflammation longer lasting stimulation than caffeine Theobromine is psychoactive. Any chemicals that stimulate the pineal gland are considered psychoactive like nicotine, caffeine and THC. Note, alcohol does none of this -- its not psychoactive and is a depressant. Alcohol, like caffeine has no positive long-term (or arguably short term) advantage on health.
Cacao and chocolate are both psychoactive but luckily our body takes a while to break down the responsible chemicals. In fact, it takes so long, our nervous system can reach homeostasis. That half-life is twice as long as caffeine so all of our body systems, including even smooth muscle tissue, has time to adjust to the absence of theobromine. This is why cacao is not considered addictive. We all know sugar is addictive and therefore, warps the reward mechanisms in our brain. With any luck, sugar won't block too many of the psychoactive or nutritional benefits. Milk chocolate will do that, and is not psychoactive. Sugar and milk can prevent homeostasis, ruining the medicinal qualities of the cacao.
The opposite is true of foods containing the methylxanthine caffeine. Like coffee and tea. Our bodies cannot adjust to the swift digestion and processing of caffeine fast enough. It leaves our nervous system in shock. Even our muscles will shake and jitter. Lastly, our bodies will begin to crave and get addicted to, lets be honest -- caffeine, in your blood stream. That is how our bodies cope when they are in short supply of the stimulant. It seeks more in order to find a false homeostasis.
That's simply caffeine addiction. Cacao contains approximately 1/50th the caffeine of a cup of coffee. One would need 49 more cups of Cacao to feel its effects. Oddly, Montezuma, is recorded to have drank 50 cups of cacao a day. He was one of the God-Kings of the Aztec Empire. This is just one reason the botanist, Linneaus, named cacao, "The Food of the Gods".