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The Health Benefits of B-Phenylethylamine in Chocolate

While most compounds in chocolate are present in small amounts, they may be responsible for our happy feelings. Eating chocolate may help us experience the release of endorphins when we satisfy a craving, or simply feel good. Scientists continue to study the role of b-phenylethylamine in chocolate. For more information, check out BBC Focus, a monthly science magazine, or follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter.


There are many possible health benefits of b-phenylethylamine, a naturally occurring monoamine that is found in chocolate. In humans, it is a neurotransmitter that acts as a neuromodulator. Its bioactivity is similar to amphetamine. Chocolate contains b-phenylethylamine, which is synthesized from the amino acid phenylalanine during the process of microbial fermentation. It is also thought to improve cognitive function, reduce stress, and even lower anxiety.

Physiological studies have shown that PEA is responsible for the mood-enhancing effect of chocolate. The body releases PEA when we fall in love. The effects of chocolate are also linked to this chemical, which may explain why the love-making properties of chocolate have been studied for so long. Other substances found in chocolate include caffeine, theobromine, and anandamide, which are all associated with mood-enhancing properties.

The molecule combines with dopamine to produce a mild antidepressant effect. Consequently, it stimulates the limbic system, which controls emotions. Unfortunately, too much chocolate can boost levels of dopamine and cause negative emotions. Researchers from Western Kentucky University’s Biology Department have published a study showing that chronic exposure to chocolate can increase the brain chemical dopamine. However, further research is needed to confirm these preliminary findings.


Chocolate is one of the best-known sources of anandamide. Three compounds found in chocolate are known to act like cannabinoids: theobromine, a relaxant that mimics the effect of marijuana, and phenylethylamine, which is similar to THC but does not produce the psychoactive effects of marijuana. Although the researchers are unsure whether anandamide is a legitimate cannabinoid, the effect is still worth investigating.

While anandamide is a weaker binding drug than THC, it is still a full agonist and could be responsible for the euphoric effects of chocolate. Moreover, high-quality chocolate contains a higher percentage of cocoa, which means it has more beneficial compounds. Hence, when you’re looking for chocolate containing anandamide, it’s best to look for dark chocolate.

Anandamide is a molecule derived from the Sanskrit word for inner bliss, anand. It is thought to be the brain’s own version of the chemical compound that gives marijuana users the feeling of euphoria. It also increases neurogenesis and exhibits anti-depressant and anti-anxiety properties. Unfortunately, the effect of anandamide is fleeting and doesn’t last long.

The neurotransmitter anandamide is found in the brain of animals and humans. It is made from the same amino acids that produce the “feel good” waves in the brain. It is similar to the active ingredient in marijuana, which is THC, which causes a high. However, it takes a lot more than 25 pounds of chocolate to get high on chocolate. A scientist discovered anandamide in 1992 and named it ananda, which means “bliss”.


The benefits of cocoa flavanols may extend beyond its topical application. In a July 2010 study, researchers looked at the effect of flavanols on circulating angiogenic cells and endothelial function. In the study, 16 participants were randomly assigned to consume either high or low-flavanol cocoa for 30 days. Among these participants, those taking high-flavanol cocoa experienced an increase in FMD, while those who consumed low-flavanol cocoa saw no improvement.

Molecular biologists are more interested in determining how chocolate compounds work. Their mechanistic actions involve oxidation and reduction. While the mechanisms by which chocolate ingestion enhances endothelial function are not fully understood, research suggests that polyphenols in chocolate influence multiple cytokines and enzyme systems. Some of these pathways involve direct antioxidant effects, while others are indirect. It is unclear whether these changes are due to specific effects of flavonoids or a combination of different components.

In a series of studies, Schroeter et al. examined the effects of cocoa on endothelial function in diabetic patients. They compared the effects of a high-flavanol cocoa beverage (containing 917 mg flavanols) with a low-flavanol control group. The results showed a significant increase in FMD after only two hours of cocoa consumption. This finding has a wide range of clinical relevance.


Some studies have linked phenylethylamine found in chocolate with migraines. Researchers at migraine clinics often warn people not to eat chocolate in order to avoid attacks. Some of these studies include a diary study where migraine patients reported being more likely to develop attacks on days when they ate chocolate. In this study, a diary study found that chocolate was associated with migraines in 2.5% of patients. Researchers also noted that chocolate was linked to migraine attacks in individuals with individual trigger profiles.

A plethora of people, ranging from young children to elderly people, may be prone to migraine attacks. Some sufferers may have a family history of migraines. While boys may be more susceptible during their adolescence, women are more likely to suffer from migraines. They can also occur at any point in their life, including pregnancy and menopause. While most people with migraines are aware of dietary triggers, others may not.

Bananas are not usually on lists of foods that cause migraines. However, if you are sensitive to tyramine, a chemical found in aged cheese, bananas may be a trigger. Although the banana pulp is not the culprit, its peel contains 10 times the amount of tyramine as the fruit’s pulp. There is no reliable study about the effects of bananas on migraines, so avoid eating the stringy inner peel.

Anandamidelike compounds

Researchers have discovered a new source of the psychoactive chemical anandamide in chocolate. Similar to THC, the substance is produced by nerve cells. However, it breaks down into other compounds by an enzyme that limits its life span and duration of action. In addition, chocolate contains anandamidelike compounds that delay their breakdown and can prolong the effect of anandamide. The researchers are still unsure of whether these compounds are directly activated by cannabinoid receptors or simply mimic their effects.

The psychoactive effects of chocolate are subtle and subjective. However, a recent Italian study questioned whether chocolate contains cannabinoids. In the case of a man who was arrested for marijuana possession, a urine test revealed positive results. The judge then called in scientists to help him resolve the case. The researchers concluded that anandamide-like compounds are present in the chocolate, but it is unknown whether the chocolate itself contains cannabinoids.

Although anandamide is naturally produced by the body, it is found in low levels in the brain. Anandamide is rapidly broken down by the enzyme FAAH. The longer anandamide remains in the brain, the greater the pleasure it provides. The chemical pathway by which anandamide is broken down has become a fascinating topic for scientists to study. Chocolate and black truffles are two examples of food sources that contain anandamide-like compounds.

Psychoactive effects

Among other things, phenylethylamine, which is present in high concentrations in chocolate, stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain and is a key chemical for falling in love. This chemical is present in chocolate at the highest levels and is often associated with the Valentine’s Day phenomenon. However, it is not yet clear whether phenylethylamine has any aphrodisiac effects, and this remains to be determined.

The chemical compound phenylethylamine is a naturally occurring monoamine alkaloid, which is found in a wide range of foods. It is an effective stimulant, regulating monoamine neurotransmission and inhibiting vesicular monoamine transporter-2. It is a trace amine found in various plants and animals, and is a common ingredient in chocolate.

The chemical compound PEA is naturally present in the human brain. It also occurs in small amounts in chocolate, and this is the reason why the chocolate is said to be anti-depressant. It is also found in the brain of people in love, and is attributed to the phenomenon of ‘love at first sight’. PEA is also increased in the body after physical activity, and is responsible for many of the positive effects of sport and exercise. People suffering from depression can benefit from supplementation of PEA.

In addition to being a feel-good chemical, phenylethylamine is metabolized quickly in the body. In humans, about 50% of the PEA found in chocolate is metabolized within 10 minutes. However, even this small amount of PEA contributes very little to the overall psychoactive effect. Because PEA is metabolized by the monoamine oxidase enzyme, MAO inhibitors inhibit the effects of chocolate in the body. Interestingly, this chemical is found in low concentrations in women’s bodies, and it is this low concentration that makes them crave chocolate.