According to science, there’s an active ingredient in black truffles similar to THC, the psychoactive compound in weed that makes it so great…or bad, if you pull a Maureen Dowd and don’t read the instructions first.
Italian researchers — of course — discovered that the fungal delicacy affects the brain in the same way cannabis does. Like other naturally occurring substances, it not only gets humans high, but also animals. The BBC reports:
The demeanour of pigs and dogs used by truffle hunters when they are close to making a find might best be described as animated. Or possibly even frantic. So what is it about the subterranean delicacies that triggers such vigorous enthusiasm in the animals trained to sniff them out?
Italian scientists may have hit on the answer. It turns out the black truffle (Tuber melanosporum) contains a “bliss molecule” similar to the substance that gives cannabis its psychoactive properties.
Mauro Maccarrone, of the Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome, Italy, and colleagues have revealed the highly-prized fungi produce anandamide, a compound that triggers the release of mood-enhancing chemicals in the human brain, and does so using the same biological mechanism as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical responsible for producing the mind-bending effects of marijuana.
Apparently it’s all nature’s fault:
Maccarrone believes truffles use it to attract animals to eat their fruiting bodies, so that their spores are spread more widely and they have a better chance of reproducing.
It’s too bad these findings didn’t come out before the world’s largest truffle went to auction. It probably would have fetched even more.