But since it's not heavily processed and diluted like commercial chocolate (or even some "fair trade" cacao), it contains more theobromine – the main activating compound.
Theobromine is a mild stimulant that increases blood flow throughout the body.
It doesn't cause jitters, crash, or craving like caffeine. There is some caffeine in cacao, but not nearly as much as the theobromine. So the effects of cacao are not like coffee or even black tea.
But there are still things to look out for with theobromine.
One is daily dosage. A ceremonial serving is 1-1.5 oz of pure cacao paste.
We recommend not having more than 2oz in any given day. Doing so can lead to nausea or headaches, especially if you don't drink enough water or eat enough food before and/or after the cacao experience.
It can also be effective to have a very small amount of cacao. A nibble might be enough to let you feel some of the magical energy. (Think of it like a "microdose" or "homeopathic" dose.)
As for weekly consumption, we recommend taking at least 2-3 days off per week.
Cacao is a plant medicine, after all. And it's important to let the energies settle and not misuse this special "Food of the Gods."
Cacao doesn't have a tolerance effect, so it doesn't take more over time to feel the same energy. If anything there's a reverse tolerance. Some people report needing less over time to feel the cacao energy.
Longer term, it can sometime be a good idea to take a longer hiatus from working with cacao.
If you ever start to feel like your heart is "too open" or your energy becomes a little frazzled, you might want to take 1-4 weeks off from working with cacao.
It's all really subjective.
We haven't seen evidence of any health concerns for working with ceremonial cacao long-term (unless someone has a pre-existing heart condition or is mixing cacao with illegal drugs).
Ultimately no one else can tell you how often to have ceremonial cacao. The bottom line is that your body will tell you what is the right amount and frequency.
Cacao "speaks" in different ways. The more you can listen to the subtle messages, the more you will benefit from the relationship with this special plant.