Is ice cream an antidepressant?
Some patients with depression will eat a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream at night before they go to bed. They feel comforted -- at least briefly -- by the high-calorie treat. Of course, it doesn't take too many nights of this before the pounds start piling up.
New research published in the journal Nature Neuroscience this month may shed some light on the biological relationship between depression and appetite. While it does not show that Ben and Jerry's is an antidepressant, it does suggest that a brain chemical, that motivates the consumption of the ice cream, may be.
The chemical is called ghrelin, and it is naturally produced in the brain and the stomach. It was only discovered in 1999 by researchers who named it based on the Proto-Indo-European word root "ghre" for "grow," referring to its ability to stimulate growth hormone. But it turns out to be the most potent appetite stimulant known.