Chocolate and Ancient Medicine

The Aztecs had this thinking that chocolate gave immense strength to their warriors. Ancient doctors used to prescribe it to treat or even cure ailments. In the past, people went for chocolatebecause of its medicinal qualities rather than its yummy taste.

“Chocolate nourishes and preserves health entire, yet causes a pleasant and natural sleep and rest,” wrote Dr. William Hughes, an English physician in 1672. “Drunk twice a day, a man may very well subsist therewith, not taking anything else at all.”

For centuries, chocolate was consumed as a drink, not as a solid bar like we have it now. To the Mayans, Aztecs and Early-Europeans, this frothy drink made out of the cacao bean was a gift from nature. Those who loved chocolate were impressed by chocolate due to its mild stimulant properties. Tt made them feel awake and alert.

“Cacao flowers were ingredients in perfumed baths, and thought to cure fatigue in government officials and others who held public office,” says the Badianus Codex, published in 1552. The Florentine Codex, published in 1590, called for a mixture of cacao beans, maize and herbs to ease fever and panting, and to treat the faint of heart.

In Aztec society, chocolate was intended for priests and the rich. However, soldiers also used to have it for the strength it supposedly gives. In 1529, when the Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes arrived in the court of Aztec ruler Montezuma, he and his fellowmen were astounded by this drink chocolate, which the Aztecs dubbed as “xocoatl” for bitter water. Cortes wrote to King Carlos I of Spain that he had discovered a “drink that builds up resistance and fights fatigue.”

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