Brain Effects of Chocolate and How it Becomes Addictive

by Cas Willow on November 9, 2011

Chocolate has a long history of use and consumption and is in fact famous among royalties around the world from the early ancient times. It has been a popular drink as early as 460 AD and in the past, chocolate used to be a bitter drink that provides energy and vitality for those who consume it. Among the famous people who were known chocolate drinkers include Aztec Emperor Montezuma, Christopher Columbus and Swiss confectioner Rodolphe Lindt.

It was also used as a medicinal alternative to cure symptoms like weight loss, body weakness, stomach aches, anemia, fever, skin irritations, poor sexual appetite and many others.

Today, chocolate has evolved into a variety of uses and has caught the attention of researchers on its effect to the brain. Researchers have also tried to identify its close association with issues like weight gain, eating disorders and chocolate addiction.

Chocolate addiction presents itself in various ways according to studies. They can manifest as a result of mood and behavior conditions; it can also be a symptom of dieting and eating issues; or it can be associated with the pleasure centres of the brain that provides euphoric effects.

The specific effects of eating chocolate are associated with certain brain activities, which will explain why it becomes very addictive. A group of neuroscientists from the US and Canada performed a study using PET (positron emission tomography) scan to determine the activities and areas of the brain that are associated with chocolate addiction. The results showed that the pleasant sensation and sweet taste of chocolate were attributed to the increased blood flow to the orbital frontal and mid part of the brain.

These areas of the brain control thoughts, emotions and feelings, which are also seen to have been activated in people with addiction to cocaine. In addition, the frontal lobe of the brain contains the highest levels of Dopamine, which controls attention, reward and drive. The midbrain on the other hand, also produces certain levels of Dopamine that has an important role in motivation and habitation characteristics of humans.

This gives an interesting explanation to the effect of eating chocolate to the brain. Consumption of chocolate stimulates the frontal and mid lobes of the brain that then fuels the Dopamine rush, which creates the euphoric sensations that makes it addictive. The same study also showed that eating chocolate takes several levels of motivation. This is significant to consider because the effects of eating chocolate as a form of reward or as a form of pleasure satisfaction record different brain activities.

Another point to consider is the fact that chocolate like addictive drugs are considered “primary enforcers,” therefore, are both perceived as highly addictive. Chocolate addiction is further elicited by the smooth texture and sweet taste that makes it very pleasant and rewarding.

Since this is considered a behavior concern, one of the treatment methods to consider is hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy for chocolate addictions is conducted by a professional hypnotherapist to alter the state of consciousness that will focus the attention of the client to other relaxation and pleasure centres of the brain that will take the place of the sensations provided by eating chocolate. A hypnotherapist will conduct hypnosis and work with the client to consciously re-channel attention to other relaxation activities that will focus the same level of satisfaction that eating chocolate provides.

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