Chocolate Dessert Recipe

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Chocolate as a Drug

Current research indicates that chocolate is a weak stimulant because of its content of theobromine. However, chocolate contains too little of this compound for a reasonable serving to create effects in humans that are on par with a coffee buzz. The pharmacologist Ryan J. Huxtable aptly noted that "[Chocolate is] more than a food but less than a drug". However, chocolate is a very potent stimulant for horses; its use is therefore banned in horse-racing. Theobromine is also a contributing factor in acid reflux because it relaxes the esophageal sphincter muscle, allowing stomach acid to more easily enter the esophagus.

Chocolate also contains caffeine in significant amounts, though less than tea or coffee, according to careful scientific studies and despite a few websites which claim otherwise. Some chocolate products contain synthetic caffeine as an additive.

Chocolate also contains small quantities of the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide and the cannabinoid breakdown inhibitors N-oleoylethanolamine and N-linolenoylethanolamine. Anandamides are produced naturally by the body, in such a way that their effects are extremely targeted (compared to the broad systemic effects of drugs like tetrahydrocannabinol) and relatively short-lived. In experiments N-oleoylethanolamine and N-linolenoylethanolamine interfere with the body's natural mechanisms for breaking down endogenous cannabinoids, causing them to last longer. However, noticeable effects of chocolate related to this mechanism in humans have not yet been demonstrated.

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