Chocolate Chemical Theobromine Could Be A Cure for the Common Cough

12/17/2012 12:20 am 00:20:35


By Erin Hicks

Another reason to eat more chocolate: It could keep you from coughing, according to doctors at the British National Health Service who presented their research at the British Thoracic Society’s winter meeting in London last week.

In their study, about 300 people at 13 hospitals who had persistent coughs were given the chemical theobromine, which is derived from cocoa, twice a day for 14 days, according to the Daily Mail. Early results showed that 60 percent of patients experienced some cough relief from after taking the cocoa-based treatment.

The dosage of theobromine used in the trial was 1,000 mg. Unsweetened dark chocolate has about 450 mg of theobromine per ounce, sweet dark chocolate has about 150 mg, and milk chocolate has about 60mg, according to the Daily Mail.

While a daily bar of dark chocolate may contain enough theobromine to have an effect on a chronic cough, researcher said, cough symptoms returned in patients who were treated in the study once theobromine treatment ended.

Another study, done at the National Heart and Lung Institute in London, showed that theobromine can block the action of the sensory nerves, which halts the cough reflex. That study found theobromine to be more effective than codeine, which is widely used to treat chronic cough.

Researchers warned, however, that just because chocolate might have a clinical application doesn’t exempt it from unwanted side effects.

“Eating a bar of dark chocolate a day which has high levels of the compound may also be effective for people with diagnosed persistent cough, although eating chocolate on a daily basis may have other unwanted effects, including weight gain and so on,” said study leader Alyn Morice, MD, head of the Hull Cough Clinic in Britain, in the Daily Mail.

"Chocolate: A Cure For The Common Cough?" originally appeared on Everyday Health.

Also on HuffPost:

  • 1 It Reduces Stroke Risk
  • A 2011 Swedish study found that women who ate more than 45 grams of chocolate a week had a 20 percent lower risk of stroke than women who treated themselves to fewer than 9 grams of the sweet stuff.
  • 2 It Boosts Heart Health
    Matija Puhek/500px
  • Regular chocolate eaters welcome a host of benefits for their hearts, including lower blood pressure, lower "bad" LDL cholesterol and a lower risk of heart disease. One of the reasons dark chocolate is especially heart-healthy is its inflammation-fighting properties, which reduce cardiovascular risk.
  • 3 It Fills You Up
    Kohei Hara via Getty Images
  • Because it's rich in fiber, dark chocolate can actually help keep you full, so you'll eat less, Dr. David Katz, founding director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center and HuffPost blogger told The Huffington Post. Regular chocolate eaters might do themselves a favor by treating themselves to a bite instead of snacking on "11 other things first" he said. Dark chocolate does the trick much better than milk, according to a small study from the University of Copenhagen, and may even reduce cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods.
  • 4 It May Fight Diabetes
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  • A small Italian study from 2005 found that regularly eating chocolate increases insulin sensitivity, thereby reducing risk for diabetes.
  • 5 It Protects Your Skin
    Katerina Nanopoulou via Alamy
  • Forget what you've heard about chocolate causing breakouts: Dark chocolate is actually good for your skin. The type of antioxidants called flavonoids found in dark chocolate offer some protection from UV damage from the sun. And no, that does not mean you can skip the sunscreen!
  • 6 It Can Quiet Coughs
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  • Can't stop coughing? An ingredient in chocolate called theobromine seems to reduce activity of the vagus nerve, the part of the brain that triggers hard-to-shake coughs. In late 2010, the BBC reported that scientists were investigating creating a drug containing theobromine to preplace cough syrups containing codeine, which can have risky side effects.
  • 7 It Boosts Your Mood
  • There's no denying that indulging your sweet tooth every once in a while feels great. Enjoying food is part of enjoying life, points out HuffPost Healthy Living's wellness editor, Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald. Chocolate eaters also report feeling less stressed.
  • 8 It Improves Blood Flow
    Lisa Capretto/OWN
  • Cocoa has anti-clotting, blood-thinning properties that work in a similar way to aspirin, Dr. Fitzgerald writes, which can improve blood flow and circulation.
  • 9 It Improves Vision
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  • Because of chocolate's ability to improve blood flow, in particular to the brain, researchers at the University of Reading hypothesized in a small 2011 study that chocolate may also increase blood flow to the retina, thereby giving vision a boost.
  • 10 It May Make You Smarter
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  • That boost of blood flow to the brain created by cocoa's flavanols seems to make people feel more awake and alert, and, in a small British study, perform better on counting tasks.
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