4 pieces of hashed pure dark chocolate bars

Chocolate what?! What the fuck?! Drugs getting chocolate on high?! How many times did you end up reading the title of this article before you were sure it is messed up? I hope it did not throw you off from reading the rest. It was meant to catch your attention by confusing you. Except for that, especially for you chocolate lovers out there, the words it contains are also what this article is about. However, just like there is confusion about the title here, it seems like there is uncertainty whether or not chocolate can get you stoned.

You might have heard or read of people experiencing a high on chocolate. I’m now referring here to chocolate as to the thing usually referred to as cacao or cocoa. As the pure and unadulterated products and not that crappy convenience store grade type. The so-called chocolate bars, and their commercial relatives.

“…can those substances get us high from eating chocolate?”

Now, having made that distinction clear, for anyone out there who had their doubts. Reportedly, people have been attaining altered states of consciousness in lesser than heavier heroin or LSD type degree. The states are more like euphoria and arousal and have been attained after getting chocolate into their system by means of drinking, snorting, inhaling, or eating it. Some have even done it in a ritual setting with chanting and longer fasts before consuming this ordinary food ingredient.

Similarly, along those lines of the new age ritualistic way of eating your bowl of organic free-range cacao-puffs, the great ancient Mezzo-American ruler Montezuma was reported to have been consuming huge amounts of chocolate before getting his freak on with the ladies.

The legends may be true, and so may the subjective stories be as well. However, as anything relating to the human psyche, a great deal of subjectivity is involved. So let’s focus on the substance instead. The right question here would be; What are the substances that chocolate contains that might get us high? And can those substances get us high from eating chocolate?

The Drug Candidates Of Chocolate

Caffeine

The first candidate is one that is probably the most used mind-altering substance today. Namely Caffeine. This globally used substance stimulates pleasure and wakefulness by engaging systems in the brain that relate to dopamine and adenosine.

Comparing a normal cup of coffee that contains about 100mg of caffeine, to chocolate. You would need to eat about 100g of chocolate to get the same amount of caffeine. So, just like drinking more coffee could get you more “buzzed”, so should eating more chocolate do. At least in theory.

Theobromine, aka Xantheose

Let’s move on to some more exotic chemicals of our beloved chocolate. Then next we have Theobromine, aka Xantheose. This weird animal of a substance, can like caffeine and other drugs can cause nausea, sweating, trembling and headaches. However, for our wellbeing, it is a mild stimulant and relaxes muscles of the bronchi in the lungs. Contrary to caffein it is a lot milder and has a longer effect with a slow onset.

Dosage wise, it has been found that at least 500mg of pure Theobromine has to be ingested to feel its effects. In terms of chocolate that is about 80 grams of the dark stuff.

So far so good for the high chocolate campers that swear by its mind-altering properties.

Tryptophan

Tryptophan is another member of the chocolate-forest-dwelling substances. Some of you may have come across this one before. It is often related to the so commonly experienced holiday food coma. A condition that people are referring to after having glutinously shoved down an excessive amount of high protein guilt food. 

If we put that debatable coma high aside and go back to the chemical, then high amounts of tryptophan can give rise to emotions of joy, happiness, and tiredness. Some have even reported DMT like experiences, but that is subjective and not related to chocolate.

On that same note, chocolate also contains serotonin. However, the serotonin that is active in the brain has to be made in the brain. So, for the sake of being an active brain substance from chocolate then let’s just stick to tryptophan here.

As for chocolate tryptophan dosage, no good literature is out there. But, theorizing from a neurological perspective we can conclude that it might play a role in reaching that fabled choco-high. This conclusion is drawn from the fact that 100 grams of chocolate contains 300mg tryptophan and a recommended dose of commonly sold tryptophan supplements is anything between 100mg to 500mg. This is nothing close to solid science, but good enough to start a testable hypothesis.

Epicatchin

Next up in now, our growing zoo of chemicals is Epicatechin. Well, this compound does not seem to be psychoactive in itself, but instead as some research papers suggest, it increases the blood flow in some areas of the brain. Then, the reason for including this chemical in our list of substances from chocolate that might get you high, is that it would aid in the transportation of nutrients, oxygen, and the other psychoactive chemicals found in chocolate. All in all to contribute to a buzz. And as for the dosage, you would need a minimum of 200mg of Epicatechin to start getting that blood flow benefit. This dose is something that one should be able to get if you consume 50g to 100g of cacao.

Anandamide

Next up is one of those stoner connoisseur chemicals, namely Anandamide. Which got its name from the Sanskrit word ananda, meaning joy.

Anandamide is found in the brain and is a communication chemical that targets the same brain regions as THC does. Yes, that same commonly known THC which is the main chemical in marijuana which gets people high.

YEAH HURRAY! Cries an enthusiastic group from the high-on-coco camp. But hold on. You probably need to eat several kilos of chocolate to get close to any levels that might get you stoned just because of Anandamide. Before even getting halfway there most people would have shat themselves several times over from the laxative effects of chocolate.

Curiously enough, and in relation to the joy-chemical, there is a group of chemicals called N-Acylethanolamines. These are known to block the breakdown of Anandamide, which theoretically makes the effects of it stick around for a longer time. So, if we have this Anandamide in our brains already, then chocolate might contribute to a feeling of a more lasting joy through those N-Acylethanolamines. Theoretically yeah, this might be so.

Moving forward. If Anandamide opened up your eyes for the intoxicating possibilities of chocolate then this next one might just make you drop your pants out of interest. 

Phenylethylamine

Phenylethylamine is also found in the brain and it is suggested that the highest levels are attained during sexual orgasm. Also dubbed the “chocolate amphetamine”, is a neurotransmitter that helps raise emotions like excitement, giddiness, and infatuation. That is basically nerd-talk for being in love. 

Even though chocolate contains this almost magical drug, it seems to be completely broken down before it reaches any part of the brain, where it can be effective. Nevertheless, some people can be more sensitive than others and interactions with other chemicals in chocolate can either aid or restrict Phenylethylamine and other chemicals to reach a desired place in the brain and work its mojo.

Chocolate In A Lab-Coat

My conclusion regarding the mythical chocolate-high is that chocolate would have a zoo of chemicals and they have all on their own, in isolated form, the potential to give you a buzz or a downright high. The flip side to that coin is that you probably need to eat a lot of cocoa-puffs to reach such a state. And, even if you would be able to gobble down the quantities that are required, you would probably experience your space safari from the high seat of your toilet instead of with the cosmic highness.

“…more studies have to be conducted in a controlled, objective, and scientific manner…”

But what about all of those anecdotes from cacao ceremonies, where people can swear they got a genuine buzz? Well, I would say there are probably other factors contributing to that as well on top of the consumption of a good cacao product in certain quantities. Such could be and involve preparatory fasts, ingesting other chemicals or foods that might aid in the absorption of those stimulating chemicals. I have even read of participants applying different types of breathing techniques, which provenly are affecting the nervous system.

Having stated this, I am not completely excluding the possible intoxicating effects that chocolate can have on its own. I am saying that it probably has to be consumed in a particular way and a certain quantity. Last but not least, for that to be concluded, it has to be mentioned that more studies have to be conducted in a controlled, objective, and scientific manner before any final judgment can be passed on the topic of getting high on chocolate.

If this article got you craving for chocolate then go on and read the cosmically delicious recipe for a Tasty Vegan Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate And Peanut Butter Brownie

Cover Photo by Tetiana Bykovets via Unsplash