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Woman Claims Chocolate Was Like LSD

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (CN) - Cacao beans in "healthy chocolate" candy bars gave a woman an "LSD-type trip" in which she hallucinated, planned suicide and was locked up as a threat to herself, she claims in court.

Elizabeth Ann Marani-Schwartz sued Reno-based MXI Corp. on Oct. 16 in Santa Cruz County Court. She seeks punitive damages for fraud, gross recklessness, breach of covenant, negligence and breach of contract.

MXI uses a multilevel marketing model, in which customers become "distributors," who recruit other customers to become distributors, and so on.

Marani-Schwartz says in her lawsuit that she was having some "physical / emotional / mental issues" when an MXI distributor told her she had experience in caring for menopausal women and that MXI had natural cure products that would help her.

So, Marani-Schwartz says, she bought MXI's natural cacao bean products.

"Upon ingestion of the products plaintiff immediately went into an altered state LSD-type trip, began planning her own suicide and hallucinated that burglars had come into her house to kidnap her son," Marani-Schwartz says.

Her family called 911 and she ended up involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward, as a threat to herself of others, according to the complaint. She spent a week hold in the hospital.

Marani-Schwartz claims that MXI's "natural cacao bean" products can cause an LSD-type trip "if only two such candy bars are eaten."

The privately held MXI, established in 2005, sell products that include weight-loss shakes, shampoos, aphrodisiacs and energy drinks, claiming they can improve digestion, sexual health and general well-being. Their products are sold worldwide.

Various kinds of chocolate are listed for sale on the MXI website, checked Thursday morning.

On the website's "Regular vs. Healthy Chocolate" section, MXI says: "Traditional processing means that the chocolate is heated, alkalized and combined with artificial and unhealthy ingredients, all of which destroys the cacao's powerful antioxidants and degrades its nutritional content."

Chocolate came to Western civilization when Spanish conquistadores found the Aztecs and Maya using it. Chocolate, or chocolatl in Nahuatl, means bitter water. The cacao beans need treatment for the flavor to be pleasing. Chocolate contains a rich brew of antioxidants and other chemicals, including theobromine, phenethylalamine and caffeine. These drugs can affect brain chemistry, including serotonin levels. LSD has been shown to affect serotonin levels, and many modern anti-depressants work, at least in part, by elevating serotonin levels in the brain.

Marani-Schwartz says in the lawsuit that she is handicapped, which made her especially vulnerable, but does not elucidate upon what her handicap is.

During her hospitalization, Marani-Schwartz says, she was placed on suicide watch. She says her incident was "followed by a long term mental/emotional instability."

She is represented by Joe B. Ritchey of Scotts Valley.

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