Chocolate: An elixir for all that ails?

The Aztecs and the Mayans knew the benefits of the substance obtained from the bean of the cacao tree. They cultivated the bean and used spices to make it palatable. After Spanish explorer Cortez plundered Mexico he returned to Spain with this valuable commodity, which was eventually introduced to Holland, England and the rest of Europe. At that time it was used only as a drink–and only a drink for the rich and the royal. Chocolate eventually evolved into the solid ‘food’ which we enjoy today.When my husband was experiencing some bouts with depression his doctor advised me to let him feast on chocolate when he felt down. The doctor was convinced that the chocolate would raise serotonin levels in my husband’s brain and thus give him a feeling of well-being. Remembering what the doctor had told me, I sent chocolate truffles to my friend, Jeanne, to cheer her up when she was struggling with cancer. Jeanne said that the chocolate helped her to cope. Research scientists at the San Diego Neurosciences Institute say that some ingredients found in chocolate, including one called anandamide, may mimic the effects of marijuana. I wonder whether Jeanne was not only feeling the effects of the serotonin, but of anandamide.Maybe that is why marijuana brownies have been so popular. People were getting a double dose of intoxication without realizing it. The chocolate in the brownies produced a marijuana-like effect, and the marijuana in the brownies produced the same result. Research scientists at the Neurosciences Institute are still feeding chocolate to rats in an effort to discover if chocolate really does have the same effect on the brain as marijuana. An entry from their research journal reads: \\"Fellows (research scientists) have shown that anandamide is present in cocoa powder and in chocolate, along with two other N-acylethanolamines that could act as cannabinoid mimics, either by directly activating cannabinoid receptors or by increasing anandamide levels. The relationship of this finding to the subjective feelings associated with eating chocolate remains to be determined.\\"So, yes, it is yet to be determined, but whether or not euphoria is traceable to chocolate, I’m willing to eat some in the name of science!

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