Cacao beans have been revered since ancient times as food and medicine, considered an aphrodisiac due to the presence of tryptophan, a serotonin booster and phenylethylamine, a stimulant related to amphetamine. Scientists debate whether the beans used to make chocolate have enough of any of these chemicals to make anyone horny, though ethnobotanist and “Medicine Hunter” Chris Kilham has never doubted.
“While there are a great many agents in nature that boost libido and enhance sexual function,” he said, “chocolate alone actually promotes the brain chemistry of being in love.”
It’s said that the Aztec emperor Montezuma used cacao beans like Viagra, popping handfuls of them before he got it on. The Olmecs of southern Mexico fermented, roasted and ground cacao beans for consuming (usually drinking) as early as 1500 B.C. In the 16th century, Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés wrote to Spain’s King Carlos I about “xocolatl,” a drink that “builds up resistance and fights fatigue.” Cacao made its way to Spain and across Europe, where it became the preferred morning and bedtime drink of the upper classes.
Many chefs and scientists believe chocolate and cannabis are an ideal pairing, not only because chocolate masks hashy flavor but also because the two share chemical cousins—THC and anandamide—which affect appetite, mood and pain perception. THC, probably the most famous molecule in cannabis, fits into cannabinoid receptors in the human body, causing psychoactive and medical effects. Anandamide, a lipid found in chocolate (and also produced in the human brain), is nearly chemically identical to THC and brings on a very mild, some say imperceptible, high. When THC and anandamide double team, scientists believe, they could inhibit the breakdown of the cannabinoids THC and CBD, causing them to stay in the system longer and enhancing their benefits.
What this means is, most people get higher and stay high longer when they combine cannabis and chocolate. That’s one reason the pot brownie has endured.