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This lesson is presented as an overview of what it"s known and the industry wants you to know about choco-late. Read on at your own risk. It was a hunch, little more, that launched Daniele Piomelli and his coworkers on their search for marijuana like compounds in chocolate. But their intuition paid off. These neuropharmacologists not only found one such cannabinoid, but perhaps more importantly, they also turned up two related chemicals that they believe could provide therapeutic insights into treating a host of ails, including depression.

Chocolate is one of the world's most widespread passions. The typical Swiss eats more than 21 pounds of this candy each year. Even the average Belgian or Brit downs some 16 pounds annually, and here in the United States, consumption weighs in at roughly Not only is this "the food most commonly craved by women," observes Adam Drewnowski, director of the University of Michigan's Human Nutrition Program, but owing to its hedonistic properties, chocolate can play a major role in a number of disorders, including bulimiabinge eating, and obesity.

In susceptible individuals, for instance, it can fuel an addiction-like desire, especially among people who exercise excessively, such as dancers. Drewnowski found that among ballerinas, "chocolate is a fetish food. There is some hints that chocolate may possess gratis n dating sites orimattila analgesic properties, Drewnowski says. His own studies indicate that eating high fat, chocolate foods can trigger the brain's production of natural opiates or endorphins.

Last year, Drewnowski showed that gratis n dating sites orimattila he used a drug to block the brain's opiate receptors, a binge-eater's desire for sweet, fatty foods such as chocolate plummeted. One major unanswered question remained: Does the body simply desire anything sweet and fatty, or does it instead feel some special craving for chocolate? In fact, all of the sweet, fatty foods used in Drewnowski's taste trials contained at least some chocolate.

Two years ago, Piomelli and some European colleagues reported the first evidence that nerve cells in the brain produce anandamide. This chemical activates the same cellular gratis n dating sites orimattila as THC, the agent in mariju-ana smoke that causes a pleasurable "high". Shortly after the brain makes anandamide, an enzyme breaks it down. The system naturally limits anandamide lifespan, and, thereby, the duration of this cannabinoid's ef-fects.

Unfortunately, Piomelli admits, "We really don't know what anandamide does in the brain. But we can draw deductions from the effects of THC because when we give anandamide to animals, it produces the same effects as when you inject them with THC. At least in test -tube experiments, both delay anandamide breakdown. Moreover, relative to gratis n dating sites orimattila concentration of anandamide measured in chocolate, those of its chemical cousins proved relatively high.

What made Piomelli look for these compounds? The big surprise, Piomelli says, was the realization that any pleasure we derive from eating chocolate proba-bly traces less to the candy's anandamide than to its chemical cousins and the role they play in prolonging the pleasurable sensations associated with the body's own natural production of anandamide.

Indeed, such an indirect role in pleasure enhancement would go a long way toward explaining why eating chocolate does not create the same giddy euphoria that smoking marijuana does. Even then, their effects would be limited to just those regions of the brain where anandamide had been naturally produced. So all that these cousins may be doing is prolonging the natural and quite localized gratis n dating sites orimattila of the gratis n dating sites orimattila own anandamide, whatever they turn out to be.

Because opiates and cannabinoids trigger different receptors in the brain, Drewnowski points out that any cannabinoid-system effects should occur independently of the opiate responses he has voksen dating gruppe nurmo to sweetened fats. After all, he notes, if cannabinoids explained the whole picture, unsweetened cocoa powder should be as enticing as a chocolate bar.

Then again, he notes that there can be a certain amount of "cross talk" be-tween brain-signaling agents. What this means, he says, is that compounds can sometimes indirectly influ-ence opiates and other systems in unexplained ways Notwithstanding, Piomelli finds the gratis n dating sites orimattila cannabinoid data "therapeutically interesting. Pot smoking often triggers a case of "the munchies" a sudden appetite.

Alternatively, if someone is depressed, a drug that induces a sense of well being can prove beneficial. Though it would not taste as good as chocolate, he notes that "there's no reason we can't involve it in chocolate. Chocoholics already know this, however. When people strongly crave chocolate, Drewnowski's data show, inexpensive, low-quality candy will not do. The whole research idea is flawed. And to imply that the anorexic lacks an appetite, only confirms that the authors of the study know little or nothing about anorexia.

Suspected Link between Chocolate, Cannabis May Improve Treatment of Mental Illness. Maybe you should not think about the rich, sensuous, mouth-watering taste of dark, fragrant chocolate while you read this. However, if you cannot resist, it may be, according to three scientists at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego that you are craving not just that taste and texture but also a mild alteration in consciousness similar to that produced by cannabinoids, the psychoactive constituents of the cannabis plant, better known as marijuana.

Chocolate, including cocoa powder, contains three compounds from the N-acylethanolamine group of chemicals that may target the endogenous cannabinoid system in the brain. The substances are not present gratis n dating sites orimattila cocoa butter. Just as the brain produces its own version of morphine, it also produces anandamide, a version of tetrahy-drocannabinol THCthe main psychoactive constituent of marijuana.

The name comes from the Sanskrit word "ananda," which means "bliss. In research on rat brains, psychopharmacologist Daniele Piomelli, and colleagues found that although the N-acylethanolamines gratis n dating sites orimattila not activate brain cannabinoid receptors, they do inhibit the breakdown of anandamide in brain microsomes and intact rat brain cells.

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