The Passion of Chocolate
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on March 10, 2011 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Chocolate is one of life’s sweetest treats and a familiar courtship ritual. Like red roses, it is often given on Valentine’s Day and has come to symbolize romantic love and the tender feelings between lovers. This tradition was borne of its history as an aphrodisiac, as chocolate was believed to increase desire and arouse passion… in ancient Mayan culture, newly married couples would ceremoniously share it together prior to consummating their wedding night, and French courtesans would inflame their lovers’ passion with its sensual, smooth texture.
So what is it in chocolate that makes it an “aphrodisiac”?
Certain natural chemicals occur in chocolate which create slight changes in our body chemistry. One of these, phenylethylamine, boosts our body’s serotonin and dopamine levels, our “feel good” neurotransmitters. They can, at least temporarily, raise our mood. Chocolate also contains a caffeine-like substance, theobromine, which increases our heart rate and stimulates our brain, making us feel more uplifted and alert.
Chocolate contains some of the same free radical fighters that are found in Green tea. So if you sip some Green tea while you nibble your cocoa nibs (the darker, the better), you’ll get a double-dose of heart-healthy antioxidants. One to two ounces of dark chocolate a day is great medicine for both body and soul.
Chocolate: a time-honored way to say “I love you” to your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day (and to yourself, everyday!).
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Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan