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Cuckoo for Cocoa?

Dr. Gail Saltz of New York-Presbyterian Hospital on chocolate addiction.

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I’m a chocoholic.
You’re not. Your chocolate addiction is psychological, not physiological. You might emotionally suffer if you don’t eat the chocolate, but you’re not going through physical withdrawal.

But I eat a lot of it when I’m depressed.
Someone who’s really depressed takes serotonin re-uptake inhibitors like Prozac. You might feel happier after eating chocolate because it has tryptophan, which is soothing. There’s really no research to suggest that chocolate raises your serotonin level.

Yet it does ease my misery.
The sensual experience of eating chocolate is very pleasant. It releases the same endorphins your brain produces when you’re having sex.

Is it true that chocolate contains the same chemical your brain produces when you feel loved?
That’s phenylethylamine. It’s in tiny amounts and it’s very likely that it gets metabolized before it gets to the brain. If this is true, however, the big question becomes: Could you create a love potion?

What about anandamide?
How much chocolate do I have to eat to feel stoned? That chemical is similar to THC. You’d probably have to eat some substantial portion of your body weight in chocolate to approximate the effects of a joint.


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