Chocolate is made from the seeds of the tropical Cacao tree, Theoboma Cacao. The Aztecs used the bean as currency, and European explorers brought it back to the western world in the early 16th century. But why do we love it and why do we crave it?
Chocolate today contains a large proportion of fat and sugar which may go some way to explaining chocolate cravings, especially if you have an inherited 'sweet tooth'. But there is more to it than that. In fact, chocolate contains over 300 different chemicals and not a lot is known about the effect that each of these may have alone or in combination.
Here are 3 facts about Chocolate that might surprise you:
When scientists measured brain activity in people eating chocolate they found that there was increased blood flow to the areas of the brain that are also activated when cocaine is taken!
Chocolate contains the same 'happy chemicals' found in some recreational drugs such as ecstasy!
It contains a neurotransmitter that affects the brain in the same way as the active ingredient in Cannabis
So we can start to see why chocolate is more than just fat and sugar. If you have a child with behavioral issues you might like to consider that chocolate could be a powerful and harmful food for them.
But why does Chocolate seem to make us feel good?
It is known that eating chocolate stimulates the release of endorphins which are the natural hormones that make you feel good. It also melts at body temperature giving that delicious textural experience in the mouth! It also contains caffeine at low levels which can have a stimulating effect on the central nervous system.
Some chocolate ingredients about which little is understood can directly effect the neurotransmitters in the brain.
Chocolate contains trypotophan which the brain uses to make seratonin which is a neurotransmitter that can produce feelings of elation
It also contains phenylethylamine. High levels of this neurotransmitter can stimulate the pleasure centres in the brain; normally, peak levels are reached during orgasm.
But chocolate also contains things that maybe beneficial to us.
It contains magnesium and low levels of which in the female body can cause a woman to experience pre-menstrual tension which would explain the craving that women can get for chocolate before their periods. Nice to know that it isn't all in the mind huh?
Chocolate also contains IRON
It contains theobromine which helps to relax smooth muscle in the lungs
Chocolate contains flavanoids (these are also the ingredients in red wine) that help to prevent clotting and thin the blood.
So it seems that we really do not fully understand the effect that chocolate can have on us, but we can really start to understand why it might be addictive. With many addictions, the addiction does not initially spring from the substance itself, but from the emotional void that eating or taking the substance fills for us. This is where homeopathy is very helpful. By balancing the client out on the emotional level, often the desire for the addictive substance can lessen so that the addiction becomes only a craving, and then an infrequent desire.
So , if you are a chocoholic and cannot go for one day without eating it, then you might want to look at your emotional landscape and examine what emotional voids you are seeking to fill. Constitutional Homeopathic treatment can help you release these emotional vacuums and once this occurs it is amazing how suddenly the chocolate craving becomes irrelevant! There is even a homeopathic medicine made out of Chocolate, but sadly it doesn't have any of the taste or texture.
So for those of you who just like to enjoy a bit of chocolate now and again, you go right ahead!
If you want more simple information on how to treat a wide range of First Aid situations look no further than the Homeopathic Coach Guide to First Aid at http://www.thehomeopathiccoach.com
Happy Homeopathic home prescribing!
© Sam Adkins 2008
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