Best Dark Chocolate: Cannabis And Cocoa Fight Symptoms of Depression
The best dark chocolate melts in your mouth, gives a boost in mood, and is deliciously infused with cannabis.
Most people generally agree that chocolate is good to eat. But, could it actually make you less depressed? And could cannabis help enhance the effects? It may do. Here’s the latest on chocolate research and a recipe for the best dark chocolate (hint: it’s infused) to help manage your depression.
A recent study published in Depression and Anxiety investigated the link between chocolate consumption and depression symptoms. Researchers wanted to find out if chocolate really does make one happier.
The researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2007-2008 and 2013-14. In it, surveyors asked participants about both daily chocolate consumption and depressive symptoms. The study found that participants who reported the largest quantity of chocolate consumption (104-454 g per day) had a 57 percent less chance of having depression symptoms than those who reported zero chocolate consumption. The data associated dark chocolate consumption with reduced depression symptoms. Research found a 70 percent lower chance of symptoms in participants who reported dark chocolate consumption.
But that isn’t the only research linking chocolate consumption to reduced depression levels. A 2013 review found that chocolate demonstrated an ability to improve both mood and cognitive enhancement.
How Might Chocolate Improve Mood?
Sure chocolate tastes good, but there’s more than the pleasure of taste to this ability to induce positive effects on mood and depression.
Chocolate contains psychoactive ingredients, such as amines and two analogs of anandamine. Anandamine induces euphoria effects similar to THC, and therefore might be responsible for some of the positive mood effects. One of the amines present in chocolate, phenylethylamine, is a neuromodulator. It is thought to play a key role in regulating mood and the treatment of depression.
Chocolate consumption also interconnects with neurotransmitter systems. This possibly improves mood and initiates reward pathways by interacting with neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins.
It also seems that the simple fact that chocolate tastes good may play a role in improving mood. One study looked into the effect on palatable and unpalatable chocolate and found that an immediate improvement to mood was seen after consuming palatable chocolate.
Why is Dark Chocolate More Effective?
The research indicates that dark chocolate may have an even more significant effect on mood than other chocolate. But why? Flavonoids may provide the answer to this. Flavonoids are a group of plant chemicals which concentrate highly in dark chocolate. Research links impaired inflammatory profiles to the onset of depression. But, research has also found that flavonoids improve these inflammatory profiles. This may demonstrate how dark chocolate could be even better for your mental health.
THC’s Antidepressant Qualities
Like its chocolate sister anandamine, THC induces euphoria and feelings of wellbeing. Moreover, one study published in Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior in 2010, shows that a dose of 2.5mg/kg THC in mice resulted in significant antidepressant-like effects.
The CB1 receptor, a cannabinoid receptor to which THC binds, is thought to play a key role in this antidepressant-like effect. Studies have shown that activation of CB1 in mice resulted in antidepressant-like effects similar to prescribed antidepressant medication. Further research has demonstrated that CB1 may act as an antidepressant since its activation leads to neurochemical changes. These include the enhancement of noradrenaline, 5-hydroxytryptamine, and dopamine in regions of the brain associated with mood.
Furthermore, activation of cannabinoid receptors reduces cortisol levels, a stress hormone closely linked to depression. Research has found that the activation of cannabinoid receptors plays a key role in the negative feedback of the neuroendocrine stress response. Cannabinoid receptor activation may be able to inhibit the stress-cascade, which results in the release of corticotropin-releasing hormone. This then produces adrenocorticotropin hormone, which initiates cortisol production.
CBD and Your Mental Health
CBD, another main active cannabinoid, produces antidepressant-like effects. CBD’s effects and pathways are not similar to that found in chocolate. It is assumed that a combination of chocolate and CBD-rich cannabis might result in enhanced antidepressant effects.
A study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology in 2010, found that CBD treatment results in antidepressant-like effects comparable to pharmacological antidepressants. Other research from 2011 and published in Neuropsychopharmacology demonstrated CBD’s ability to potentially reduce anxiety levels, improve cognitive impairment, and improve mood.
Serotonin is a nerve cell chemical associated with improving mood and treating depression. Research has found CBD to immediately increase levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin. So, when CBD activates the 5-HT1A receptor, it initiates serotonin production.
Finally, neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change and optimize neural networks. CBD helps neuroplasticity by reducing the decrease of hippocampal neural cell production and reducing the density decrease of the synaptic input-receiving dendrite spines induced by chronic stress. This creates a healthier neural environment.
Cannabis Chocolate Recipe
Research has shown that cannabis and chocolate both induce many similar antidepressant-like effects. So, it stands to reason that a combination of the two might result in an even greater improvement in mental health. In the spirit of improved mental health, here’s the recipe for a dark chocolate cannabis bar.
- 3 grams of finely ground cannabis
- 100 grams dark chocolate, chopped
- Glass bowl
- Chocolate bar mold
- Place your cannabis in a 240 degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes to decarboxylate, or use a water bath.
- Melt the chocolate by placing in the glass bowl and then placing the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Constantly stir the chocolate until melted but make sure the bowl never touches the water below.
- Add your decarboxylated cannabis to the melted chocolate, and stir.
- Pour the cannabis chocolate mixture into the chocolate molds (ice cube trays/small baking trays are good substitutes) and leave in a cool place to harden. If it’s too warm in your kitchen, you can also put the chocolate in the fridge to cool quicker.
- Once set, gently remove from molds and consume to your tolerance level. It’s best to start slowly – just a small square may be more than enough. Remember cannabis edibles can take a long time to take effect, around 45 minutes to an hour.
Now sit back, eat a couple squares, and wait for the effects to brighten your day.