Question: The good ingredient in chocolate is found in the cocoa bean and is called theobromine after the Theobromo cacao tree. The ground up seeds make the cocoa, then the chocolate is made by adding a few more ingredients. Theobromine is antiasthmatic, arteriodilator, bronchiodilator, diuretic, emetic, stimulant and more. And it is very bitter – until the sugar and fat and milk are added to turn it into chocolate candy. Cacao seeds are just one more medicinal seed used by the Native Americans as a medicine for centuries. They used it mainly for mental illness and depression. Now if they could only make an excellent candy out of pumpkin seeds like they’ve managed out of cocoa it would make life more delicious. To get the benefits of cocoa without the added calories, one can make hot cocoa from the cocoa powder. There are so many artificial flavors and colors used today, that one does not really know how much of the medicinal cocoa is really in chocolate candy.
Comment: Here’s one discussion of chocolate’s ingredients. It lists the ones I’ve seen listed elsewhere. Chocolate contains small quantities of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid found in the brain. However, one would need to eat several pounds of chocolate to gain any very noticeable effects; and eat a lot more to get fully stoned. Chocolate contains caffeine, but in modest quantities easily obtained from other sources. Chocolate contains tryptophan too. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid. It is the rate-limiting step in the production of the mood-modulating neurotransmitter serotonin. Yet tryptophan can normally be obtained from other sources as well.
Chocolate’s theobromine content may contribute to – but seems unlikely to determine – its distinctive profile. Eating chocolate also releases endorphins, the body’s endogenous opiates. Endorphins contribute to the warm inner glow induced in susceptible chocaholics. (cut) Perhaps chocolate’s key ingredient is its phenylethylamine “love-chemical”. Yet the role of the “chocolate amphetamine” is disputed. Most chocolate-derived phenethylamine is metabolised before it reaches the CNS. Some people are evidently sensitive to its effects in very small quantities. Phenylethylamine is itself a naturally occurring trace amine in the brain. It releases mesolimbic dopamine in the pleasure-centres. Taken in unnaturally high doses, phenylethylamine can produce stereotyped behaviour more prominently even than amphetamine.