Scientists have found that black truffles contain the "bliss molecule" similar to tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, found in marijuana.
Researchers have previously found that THC is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's mood-enhancing and psychological effects.
Mauro Maccarrone of the Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome and his team have discovered that the expensive black truffles produce a compound called anandamide, which triggers the discharge of chemicals that enhance the mood of the human brain. This characteristic of black truffle is also found in marijuana.
"Anandamide content increases in the late stages of truffles' development," reported the study.
Anandamide is also called the bliss molecule because it plays a role in changing appetite, mood, memory and feelings of depression and pain. Scientists also shared that the term "ananda" in anandamide comes from Sanskrit, which means extreme bliss or delight.
The study explains that the black truffles do not have the required endocannabinoid-binding receptors that anandamide binds to, which means that the fungi does not have any use of anandamide.
"In addition, we measured anandamide content in truffles, at different maturation stages (from III to VI), through liquid chromatography-mass spectrometric analysis," added the study.
So why do black truffles produce the bliss molecule?
Maccarrone explains that black truffles produce the compound to attract animals. The euphoric scent of the fungi of the Ascomycota phylum entices animals such as dogs and pigs, which dig them from the ground and eat them. The fungi spread their spores via the excretion of animals.
Black truffles do not taste that great. However, their blissful aroma and rarity make them one of the most expensive delicacies of the world. Black truffles are mainly found in Europe especially in countries such as Spain and France. The fungi are mainly used as garnish shavings over luxury chocolates and gourmet food.
The price of black truffle can reach up to £195, or about $302, for 100 grams. However, white truffle is more expensive and its value can reach up to £275, or about $427, per 100 grams.
The study was published in the journal Science Direct.