in a November 1996 edition of the prestigious journal Nature.
According to scientists in San Diego, chocolate may be able to
simulate some of the effects of marijuana on the brain. Researchers
have wondered for a long time what it might be in chocolate which
generates such craving and the pleasant feeling of having it satisfied.
Is it the fat in chocolate? The sugar, the caffeine, or what?
study looked at other substances altogether and found that there
may be some similarities to marijuana. But before you light up
a Mars Bar, Dr Daniele Piomelli of the Neuroscience Institute,
where the work was done, wants to make one thing very clear.
Piomelli: Chocolate does not contain substances
similar to those in marijuana; chocolate contains instead substances
that are similar to our own marijuana, so to speak; our own marijuana
is called anandamide. Anandamide is a naturally-occurring substance
produced by brain cells that mimic the mental effects of cannabis.
Swan: So this anandamide influences in a lock and
key sense, the receptors that in fact are the same receptors in
the brain, the same locks, into which marijuana fits.
Piomelli: Exactly. Anandamide binds and activates
the same receptors that are activated by the active principle
of marijuana which is, as you know, tetrahydrocannabinol.
Swan: So we didn't evolve to be able to smoke marijuana,
we evolved to have these receptors for another reason, it's just
that by serendipity cannabis has that effect on this lock and
Swan: So you found that chocolate influences this
Daniele Piomelli: Yes it does so in two different
ways: chocolate contains some anandamide which may reach the brain.
However, what I think is most interesting, is that chocolate contains
also two additional compounds, but compounds that do not interfere
directly with the cannabis receptors. Instead these compounds
prevent the degradation of anandamide.
Swan: In other words, you've got more keys fitting
into the lock as a result of --
Piomelli: Exactly. This is precisely the point.
Which also explains for what different chocolate is so different
from cannabis. Of course when you smoke cannabis and you reach
a certain level of tetrahydrocannabinol in your blood, all your
cannabinal receptors are going to be activated, no matter what,
everywhere in your brain. Instead, by eating chocolate, first
of all you have of course a much lower level of active substances,
but also it's most important, the substances may only enhance
the effects of the anandamide that is produced endogenously in
a way the anandamide that our brain meant to produce. This enhancement
is only likely to happen in specific areas of the brain, not all
over the brain. I think that's an important difference that explains
why nobody experiences chocolate highs.
Swan: Was it all forms of chocolate, or just plain
chocolate, milk chocolate?
Piomelli: We only had samples of dark chocolate,
not milk chocolate. As a control for that, we used white chocolate
which contains cacao butter and milk and sugar, but does not contain
cacao powder. Another control we carried out was with brewed coffee,
espresso coffee, and of course brewed coffee has many things in
common with chocolate that of course it's pleasant, it's something
people like and is something that contains caffeine, which is
biologically active, it produces that stimulating effect that
the coffee drinker usually pursues.
Swan: If you're right, and chocolate does this to
this innate form of cannabis, why would it create a craving if
it's a more natural effect?
Piomelli: Well craving is a natural thing. This
is not the type of craving that one experiences say, with cocaine
addiction of course. This is a much milder form of craving, and
that's probably a reason why it's so poorly understood because
it doesn't strike as much as classical drug cravings. It is called
the non-drug craving. How could you explain? Well it is difficult
to say at this point: the hard data in our experiments only show
that chocolate contains these compounds and that these compounds
in cells in culture produce the inhibition of anandamide degradation
I was mentioning to you before.
Now it will be important to carry out further
studies in vivo as they say in pharmacology, which basically means
either injecting or administering these compounds to laboratory
animals and determining whether they produce the same effect as
Swan: That's going to be fascinating to see if there's
a gender difference, given that chocoholism seems to be more in
the purview of females than males.
Piomelli: Right. There is also another interesting
point you are raising in this gender difference: of course you
are aware of a disease called bulimia. Bulimia is a very widespread
disease particularly in young women, and is characterized by food
binges that show a preference for high fat and high sugar containing
foods typically chocolate, ice-cream and things of this nature,
which might be linked to the cannabinoid system. What I'm trying
to say is that there is a whole area of research on these non-drug
cravings which links unlikely things, such as chocolate and bulimia
to the endogenous cannabinoid system and although this link is
still very weak, it is definitely worth pursuing.
Swan: I knew it couldn't all be fun.
Piomelli is at the Neuroscience Institute in San Diego, California.
REFERENCE: Tomaso E et al. NATURE 1996; 382:677-678.
my valentine.com - From Truffles to toe rings, Net offers the
way to her heart
Daily News Thursday, Feb. 10, 2000
Be My Valentine.com
By Gail Appleson
Philadelphia Daily News
February 10, 2000
NEW YORK - Need advice on something usual for your Valentine this
The Internet will give your imagination a workout, with ideas
for everything from chocolate that elevates sexual desire to heart-shaped
Click on www.hawaiianvintage.com and you can order what is being
touted as a new trademarked candy called ìfunctional chocolate.Love
Truffles made by Hawaiian Vintage Chocolate claim to raise the
aphrodisiac qualities found in regular chocolate to ìnew
heights. The company says the chocolates, which sell for $19.95
a box, are infused with ìessence of cacao, the substance
found in chocolate that triggers feelings of love, happiness and
sexualityî and are the first such confections blended to
increase sexual desire.Hawaiian Vintage Chocolate says Love Truffles
get their special quality from a higher concentration of ìneurotransmitter
boosters and exotic-sounding natural aphrodisiacs such as Damiana,
Quebracho, Suma and Ashwaganda. And of course there is also American
ginseng, which the company calls ìthe most effective of
all the natural love enhancers. Chocolate's aphrodisiac qualities
have made it the gift of lovers for centuries and through the
breeding process we were able to improve on this secret and we
hope they will bring out the Casanova in all of us, said Jim Walsh,
chief executive officer and founder of the Honolulu-based company.
And what if your Valentine doesnít care
a personalized audio greeting site that lets you create a full-length
musical compact disc for your sweetie. The music is digitally
mastered and senders can select and edit lyrics for a custom-created
song. The introductory price of $7.95 includes a personalized
label and special CD packaging and orders can be delivered within
three business days.
If the way to your Valentine's heart is through
his or her pet - or if your Valentine is your pet - petsmart.com
has launched a Valentine's Day Boutique that offers such products
as hand-knitted red sweaters and heart-shaped dog biscuits. The
company, working with acmepet.com, also has ìheartfeltî
Pet Personals, Valentine's Day postcards, daily pet horoscopes
and ìtouching articles from hopelessly romantic pet owners.
If you are a guy who is clueless about what to
get the woman in your life, theman.com, an on-line retailer, not
only makes suggestions for unique gifts but rates how popular
the items will be with different personality types. The site makes
recommendations based on your desired mood and budget and gives
advice for top-10 romantic videos, top-10 seduction dates, Valentineís
Day marriage proposals and even homemade love coupons in which
you promise to perform a variety of services for your sweetie.
Calvin Lui, the 28-year-old chief executive of
the San Francisco-based company, said the suggestions were based
on focus groups and surveys of hundreds of women who were asked
about gifts they would like to receive. He said the most popular
ideas with women across the board included one-day spa gift certificates
and bed-and-breakfast getaways.
The biggest message we learned was just how bad
we [men] are at choosing gifts, he said. Guys don't necessarily
think of these things. The site lets you choose from the following
personalities: artistic intellectual, athlete-adventurer, career
professional, crunchy-earthy, girl next door, princess and trendy
wild. Click on one and a list of gift suggestions will appear.
For example, suggestions under crunchy-earthy include a toe ring,
an aromatherapy relaxation kit and flannel pajamas.Since many
women fall into several categories, Lui said, the site also allows
a user to check how well a particular gift would do with other
Take the toe ring, for example. Click on it and
a graph appears rating the risk involved in giving one to other
types of women. While a toe ring would be a sure thing for a crunchy-earthy
woman, it would be only a good bet for the artistic intellectual
and risky for the athlete-adventurer, career professional or girl
next door. As for the princess, the graph says forget it. If you're
trying to please a princess, orchids would be a sure thing, but
they would be only a ìtoss-up for a crunchy or artistic
The site has buying information on a range of
conventional and unconventional gifts including black pearls,
laser tag, original artwork, hammocks and even books of erotica
and feather ticklers. There's a fine line between sleaze and sensuality,
the site says, but if you stay on the right side of it, you, my
friend, can be a very lucky man.
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