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21.06.2021


Do dietary amphetamines play a role in the Christmas feeling?

The pleasant feeling that thousands of Europeans and North Americans experience around Christmas may be the result of - don't be alarmed - amphetamines. And we don't mean the amphetamines you buy on the corner of the street, but amphetamines in spices like cinnamon, anise, nutmeg and cloves. And those are exactly the spices in foods whose consumption increases during the winter in the Northern Hemisphere.


Do dietary amphetamines play a role in the Christmas feeling?


Dietary amphetamines
In the winter months, when the days are short, we have an increased need for warmth, closeness and neurostimulation. And so we eat gingerbread (contains ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves) and drink mulled wine (contains anise, cloves, and cinnamon) and make winter-flavored tea (with cinnamon and cloves).

So says Jeffrey Idle, a professor and pharmacologist from Charles University in the Czech Republic, in an article published in 2005 in Prague Medical Report. Idle again bases his ideas on a theory that Sasha and Ann Shulgin propose in their book Tihkal. amazon.com

The Shulgins, two biochemists who synthesized and tested an impressive array of tryptamines, suggested that natural amphetamines are present in our diet. They thought of ingredients in spices that chemists call allylbenzenes. You can see a few below.


Do dietary amphetamines play a role in the Christmas feeling?


Drugs
In themselves, these substances have no significant psychotropic effect. But, the Shulgins theorized, maybe they convert in the body or else in the kitchen or the factory to amphetamines like TMA and MMDA.

TMA is a mild hallucinogen, which at the same time gives the illusion that others can 'read your mind', the Shulgins discovered. MMDA facilitates communication and gives a feeling of warmth. At the same time, it suppresses feelings of loneliness and fear. Both drugs are marketed as recreational drugs.


Do dietary amphetamines play a role in the Christmas feeling?


It is not clear whether these transformations actually take place. Therefore, the Shulgins' theory is still a theory.

Even more natural amphetamines
Spices such as nutmeg and cloves contain even more possible psychoactive substances. The propenyl benzenes may well convert into allyl benzenes, and then into amphetamines.


Do dietary amphetamines play a role in the Christmas feeling?


Christmas
"Maybe we simply need those kitchen odours at Christmas time to refresh ourselves of the feelings of good cheer", schrijft Idle.

"It may have nothing to do with pharmacology, simply the lifting of our spirits by the best memories of childhood winters that we have stored forever away, available for downloading once triggered by a particular odour or combination of smells."

"One thing is, however, certain."

"The imprint of far-off and exotic places is reborn in us each dark and cold European winter through the medium of clove and ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Whether there is also a definable pharmacological component to this experience remains to be elucidated."

Source:
Prague Med Rep. 2005;106(1):27-38.

More:
Animal study: sunbathing is addictive 08.07.2014
It really exists: carrot addiction 06.05.2013

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