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.
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