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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chocolate Holds Marijuana Mimic

LONDON -- It may not come as a surprise to chocolate junkies, but scientists in California say they have found another chemical in chocolate that could explain its addictive properties.

The chemical mimics the effects of cannabis, Daniele Piomelli and colleagues at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego said Wednesday.

They looked at the molecule, anandamide, because it is a brain lipid, or fat -- and of course chocolate is high in fat. They said it could act as a neurotransmitter, a chemical that carries signals between brain cells.

Writing in the science journal Nature, they said tests showed chocolate contained varying amounts of anandamide while white chocolate and coffee did not.

Chocolate contains three different versions of anandamide, which could activate receptors in brain cells that are known to react to chemicals in cannabis. They said further experiments were needed to see if the chemicals would have this effect in a living animal.