Does Chocolate have “aphrodisiac” effects?
According to Steve Carter
First on the list of “love drugs” is phenyl-ethylamine (PEA), which also occurs naturally in the brain. PEA naturally reaches peak levels during orgasm, and administering PEA increases dopamine levels, stimulating the pleasure centers. PEA is chemically similar to amphetamine (leading to its nickname “chocolate amphetamine”), and has been shown to have similar effects: feelings of attraction, excitement, and giddiness. As a possible aphrodisiac, PEA is seen as a strong candidate by neurologists and dieticians.Second on the list of love-drugs in chocolate is tryptophan. You may be familiar with tryptophan as the reason you fall asleep after Thanksgiving dinner. Your brain uses tryptophan to make serotonin. In addition to sleepiness, serotonin can produce feelings of elation. The street drug Ecstasy works by increasing serotonin levels. Tryptophan in chocolate may induce similar feelings, albeit at a lower intensity.
Third on the list is anandamide (which means “internal bliss”). Anandamide binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, mimicking the effects of cannabinoid drugs, such as heightened sensitivity, euphoria and a sense of well-being. Cacao also contains two N-acyl-ethanolamines (NAEs) which slow the breakdown of anandamide, prolonging it’s effect. Some researchers have decried the small amounts of Andandamine in chocolate as insufficient to cause any effect. However, PEA and Andandamine may interact with each other, and the stimulants caffeine and theobromine found in chocolate. The overall effect may be romantic or sexually stimulating.
So far there is no conclusive study that chocolate has “aphrodisiac” effects, so studies concede that chocolate does make people felt a little more relaxed and joyful.