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February 14, 1996

The Chocolate Tree: A Natural History of Cacao

Author Affiliations

University of Southern California Los Angeles

JAMA. 1996;275(6):491. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530300075047

The time has come for physicians to be informed about so-called chocolate addiction and, conversely, the benefits of chocolate. One recent hospital public lecture on "Why Women Need Chocolate" had an overflow audience. A women's magazine is advertising that it will soon issue an article on why we love chocolate—"it creates a physiological effect not unlike an orgasm." Theobromine may be the "kick" substance in chocolate. Strangely, craving for chocolate can be a side effect of the addicting drug "ecstasy," which combines the effects of amphetamine and LSD.

The University of Chicago and the National Science Foundation have been sponsoring the research in Costa Rica by Dr Young, zoologist-ecologist. He does a basic job in The Chocolate Tree, combining the history and chemistry of Theobroma cacao trees. They are a source of 300 chemicals, including nutritives. They give us the pleasurable confection and drink we call chocolate.

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