Boy, this is fun, isn’t it? Based solely on the titles of today’s posts, someone might confuse me for someone who actually has a clue about chemistry. So anyway, anandamide. This one is a favorite of fluff piece writers everywhere as it is a possible explanation for chocolate’s “pleasure giving” properties. It belongs to a class of chemicals known as cannabinoids, which as the name implies are similar in structure to THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis.
Anandamide is present in chocolate in amounts so tiny as to be almost not worth mentioning. However defenders of the cannabinoid theory of chocolate and pleasure continue to press on, pointing out that not only does chocolate contain anandamide, but two other multi-syllabic compounds (N-oleoylethanolamine and N-linolenoylethanolamine) that are so-called cannabinoid breakdown inhibitors. In other words, chemicals that prevent the body from breaking down both the cannabinoid molecules people eat (as well as the ones the human body produces naturally) causing them to collect in the brain.
The problem is that clinical studies — and there have been more than a few — have turned up zero evidence that any of these compounds have effects anything like those that occur after smoking marijuana. Which isn’t surprising since cannabinoids can be found in several foods, among them sea urchin eggs, which as far as I know aren’t associated with pleasure in any form. I don’t know, maybe you have to smoke them.