Persistent coughs melt away with chocolate

New research shows that persistent coughs melt away with chocolate. In a new study by Gaia Vince.

When looking for interesting articles relating to Chocolate and its possible health benefits, I came across an article in 'New Scientist' written on 22 November 2004 where Gaia Vince wrote about a study that suggests that there is an ingredient in chocolate that may be a more effective cough medicine than some of the other more traditional remedies.

In addition, the UK-based research showed that the cocoa-derived compound had none of the side effects associated with standard drug treatments for persistent coughs.

Peter Barnes, professor of thoracic medicine at Imperial College London, UK, who led the study says, "These sorts of coughs, often lasting for weeks after a viral infection, can be difficult to treat, especially since it is not possible to give large doses of opiate-based medication to patients due to the side effects."

Peter Barnes and his colleagues gave 10 healthy volunteers tablets containing one of the following: one containing theobromine, a constituent of cocoa, one containing codeine, a cough suppressant against which other drugs are measured or one which was just a placebo.

The volunteers were then asked to inhale a gas containing capsaicin which is a derivative of chilli peppers which induces coughing and is used as an indicator to test the effectiveness of cough medicines.

Those given theobromine needed about one-third more capsaicin to produce coughing than those who took codeine. Codeine was only marginally more effective than the placebo at preventing coughing.

Most interestingly, theobromine appeared to have no unwanted side effects. The same could not be said for codeine, which is a narcotic and lists drowsiness and constipation among its negative side effects.

The researchers believe theobromine acts on the sensory nerve endings of the vagus nerve, which runs through the airways in the lungs to the brain. Capsaicin stimulates these endings to provoke coughing.

Their results confirmed that "theobromine does indeed inhibit the capsaicin-induced sensory nerve depolarisation in the vagus nerve."

What are my conclusions from this, well I have to acknowledge that the sample of volunteers used in the study was not huge but hey..... It does show that Chocolate can help with that nasty persistent cough so give it a whirl. Who knows, if scientists tried some of our Hamiltons Chocolate Truffles in their experiments they might find that it takes two thirds more capsaicin to produce coughing than those in the codeine tablet sample because of our secret chocolate ingredient!!!!

Date: 01/01/2011