So that's why piggies snort through so much dirt to find the coveted fungi: truffles contain compounds similar to those found in cannabis that produce a sense of joy and euphoria.
All animals, including humans, possess endocannabinoid systems responsible for feeding, energy expenditure, memory, and pain regulation. The production of endocannabinoids is one characteristic that distinguishes animals from plants. When someone smokes weed, phytocannabinoids produced by cannabis actually mimic the body's endocannabinoids.
New research from Italy now shows that truffles, the highly prized and insanely expensive fungi, also produce endocannabinoids. Truffles grow underground near oak trees and can ultimately fetch $1500 per pound. That truffles produce endocannabinoids is just the latest evidence that fungi are more closely related to animals than plants. Plants, animals and fungi all share a common ancestor, and increasingly it appears that fungi are much more akin within the evolutionary tree to humans than say, lettuce. (I certainly feel more simpatico with truffles than turnips or kale, don't you?)
The endocannabinoid content of truffles may be one of the reasons that humans prize them, since these compounds are active at incredibly small doses and the aroma of fresh truffles feels quite intoxicating.
There's some related coverage at BBC News today.
Here's a recent video of Michael speaking in Seattle, on his recent book tour. If you haven't read "Cannabis Pharmacy," and have made it this far in this blog post, you owe it to yourself to buy a copy.