Wednesday, 31 March 2010

can I catch a chocolate addiction?

With the chocolate egg season upon us, I thought it would be interesting to investigate the mood enhancing chemicals associated with chocolate.

Strictly in the interests of science, of course.

The biggie that most people have heard about is the caffeine relative called theobromine, which is the one usually shown on "I heart chocolate" tee-shirts, so that's a good place to start, with its trippy endorphins to create a pleasant buzz.

It's said that the brain chemicals that chocolate enhances are relatives of opium. It works because one of the brain's receptors that flips is the same one that responds to marijuana, but instead of responding to THC (the cannabis chemical tetrahydrocannabinol), the brain produces anadamide and is happy to let chocolate slow down its dispersal to create similar but more localised receptor effect to cannabis.

Then there's the love drug component.

That's because chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, which is a chemical related to amphetamines. Like uppers, this chemical raises blood pressure and blood-sugar level creating a state that has been likened to a feeling of being in love.

So if we see plenty of blissed out people this week, the combination of self produced opiates and feelings of love may be partly driven from their levels of chocolate consumption.

Pass the Creme Eggs.

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