CHOCOPHARMACOLOGY

by The Chocolate Dictionary

Chocopharmacology is the study of the active ingredients in chocolate and their effects on the mind and body. In Why Women Need Chocolate, Debra Waterhouse writes of chocolate containing more brain-pleasing chemicals than any other foodstuff we know: there’s Phenylethylamine, the so-called “love drug”; Theobromine, a caffeine-like stimulant; Anandamide, a mood enhancer (ananda is Sanskrit for “indescribable bliss”); and Tryptophan, a relaxant. Chocolate is known to trigger the body’s own opiates, endorphins, and is seen as the reason why chocolate is so enjoyable. Or, as an advert for BBC Radio 4 once put it: “Often people get palpitations, euphoria, increased hormone secretions. It’s a very strong substance, chocolate”.

The pharmaceutical application of chocolate. (image from: http://www.weirdmail.us)

The findings of what is sometimes referred to as “chocolate propaganda research” to validate the relationship between chocolate and sexual desire have yet to be fully proved. These mood-enhancing chemicals are just not present in large enough quantities to have a significant effect. But this hasn’t stopped marketing wizards perpetuating chocolate’s “naughty but nice” associations  especially when consumed by women.  So what do we make of the research team from Milan who, in 2004, found that women who eat chocolate regularly have a better sex life than those who don’t? The answer is that some chocolates are so tempting, that just looking at them, or just thinking about them, creates the desired pharmacological effect.

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