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Chocolate Lovers’ Euphoria Real?

Thu., Aug. 22, 1996

Chocolate contains substances that might mimic the effects of marijuana, boosting the pleasure you get from eating the stuff, researchers say.

The ingredients might make the texture, smell and flavor of chocolate more enjoyable and combine with other ingredients such as caffeine to make a person feel good, researcher Daniele Piomelli speculated.

“We are talking about something much, much, much, much milder than a high,” said Piomelli, a researcher at the Neurosciences Institute of San Diego. He reported the work with colleagues in today’s issue of the journal Nature.

But a researcher who studies the brain chemistry of marijuana said chocolate contains such low levels of the ingredients Piomelli identified that he doubts they have any effect.

Christian Felder of the National Institute of Mental Health estimated that a 130-pound person would have to inject the equivalent of 25 pounds of chocolate in one sitting to get any marijuanalike effect.

Piomelli found that chocolate contains anandamide, which also is produced naturally in the brain and which activates the same target that marijuana does.

He also found two chocolate ingredients that inhibit the natural breakdown of anandamide, which could lead to heightened levels of anandamide in the brain. Piomelli stressed that his work does not imply that chocolate is addicting.

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