By Brad Bogus
Did you know that the human body not only comes pre-wired to interact with cannabinoids like THC and CBD, but also naturally produces them? Our body produces several endocannabinoids (meaning the compounds are created natively inside our bodies) called anandamide and 2-AG (2-arachidonoylglycerol for the science fans). Anandamide is also known as the “bliss molecule” due to the effects it has on our bodies.
What does this have to do with chocolate? Well, for the longest time, people have believed that cocoa contained anandamide, and that consuming chocolate would provide a bliss-like experience similar to consuming cannabis. This is still pervasive to this day. There’s just one problem: in 1998, two of the most respected cannabinoid researchers of all time, Raphael Mechoulam and Vincenzo DiMarzo, debunked the theory that cocoa contains anandamide.
Why does this belief continue so pervasively when it was debunked in 1998?! That’s a good question. Perhaps one of the reasons is that cocoa and cannabis make such a stellar pairing; albeit for totally different reasons. It is the bouquet of other chemicals in cocoa that interact with botanical cannabinoids like THC and CBD, that make the combination of the two so interesting.
First off, and perhaps most obviously, cocoa contains caffeine, a stimulant that has uplifting/energizing pharmacological effects. It’s a vasodilator, which is a scientific term that essentially means it increases the flow of nutrients and chemicals into our body’s tissues. Many people love their coffee with their cannabis, and the same goes for chocolate.
Cocoa also contains large amounts of a compound called theobromine. This compound is a cousin of caffeine, and like its partner stimulant, theobromine acts as a vasodilator. When combined with cannabis consumption, theobromine ensures greater blood flow to the brain. Perhaps this is helping more of the cannabinoids cross the blood brain barrier, although this is still not fully researched.
But that’s not all! Cocoa also contains two other compounds that might play a part in ensuring we feel even more of the effects of cannabis. Those compounds are N-oleolethanolamine (OEA) and N-linoleoylethanolamine (18:2 LOEA). They’re a mouthful, so we’ll just refer to them as OEA and LOEA from here on. These two compounds help prevent the breakdown of cannabinoid molecules in our body. Without these two compounds, the cannabinoids from the cannabis we consume would break down and dissipate faster. However, because they’re in the cocoa, they may help to ensure we get as long a high as possible.
In addition to these compounds, cocoa also contains tryptophan. This may sound familiar to you; tryptophan is popularly accused of causing the post-Thanksgiving feast drowsiness from tryptophan in the turkey most people consume in large amounts. Spoiler alert: turkey doesn’t have enough tryptophan in it to really cause this. Most people are just overeating. However, it’s not based on total myth. Tryptophan is a precursor for us to make serotonin, a classically ‘happy’ neurotransmitter.
In addition to the serotonin released by the large tryptophan dose we receive from chocolate, cocoa facilitates the release of phenylethylamine and dopamine. The more serotonin, the more happy and focused we are. The more dopamine, the more calm and at peace. Phenylethylamine ensures we have energy, and it helps fight depression. Mixed together, these three compounds have a similar effect as “the runner’s high”, an endorphin rush that explains why so many people put themselves through punishingly long treks on foot just to achieve it.
It’s almost as if the earth created a perfect combination in these two plants and how they interact with humans. Our bodies are prepared to accept cannabinoids, the cannabis plant produces the highest concentration of cannabinoids, and chocolate contains chemicals that facilitate better flow of those compounds for a longer period of time, as well as others that have made us feel fantastic over thousands of years. This would sound like magic if it wasn’t so scientifically researched and understood.
“Chocolate is more than a food, but less than a drug.” RJ Huxtable
Chocolate also contains fat, an important vessel for binding and delivering cannabinoids to our bodies. Fat content in chocolate will help improve the bioavailability of THC, which means that it facilitates better delivery of the THC to your CB1 and CB2 receptors. This is why chocolate has so long been a popular cannabis treat, eating your cannabis with chocolate will allow more THC to enter your system.
The best way to enjoy the benefits of this combo from Mother Earth is cannabis infused chocolate. Quality is always important when choosing your edibles. Make sure the cannabis in the chocolate you’re choosing is clean, grown with care and passion, and most importantly, without toxic chemicals. Similarly, the quality of the chocolate is important as well. More cocoa content means more of the chemistry from the cocoa is present, which could provide you a greater high.
Perhaps this is why cannabis chocolate is such a perfect pairing; you get the best of both worlds in one experience. Next time you get the opportunity to share some cannabis chocolate with a friend or family member, make sure and explain to them this is a match made in heaven. Science is your friend!