New Research Shows Chocolate May Be Better Than Cough Medicine

Theobromine Is More Effective Than Codeine As A Suppressant

Posted by on Apr 22

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A new UK research study has discovered that the theobromine properties in chocolate are extremely effective in treating a persistent cough. Theobromine is an alkaloid of cacao, the same plant that chocolate is made from. It is the primary ingredient in both cocoa and chocolate, and is especially prevalent in cocoa powder.

Leading the study was Peter Barnes, a professor of thoracic medicine at London's Imperial College. His reason for conducting the study was due to the difficulties of current cough treatments, since most cough medications contain the opiate codeine.

"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," he said.

To conduct the study, Barnes gave trial patients one of three types of tablets: theobromine, codeine, or placebo. Each patient then inhaled a gas containing capsaicin from chili pepper plants. This gas is often used in clinical trials to induce and test coughing.

Results showed that the patients taking theobromine needed 33% more capsaicin gas to induce their coughing. Results for codeine and placebo patients were nearly the same, and patients taking these did not require any additional capsaicin gas to induce their coughs.

Additionally, those who consumed theobromine did not list any negative side effects, unlike codeine, which lists nausea, drowsiness and constipation among its many negative side effects.

Barnes said the results make sense, since theobromine is believed to affect the sensory endings of the vagus nerve. This nerve goes through the airways in the lungs and ends in the brain. When the capsaicin gas was inhaled, these nerve endings were stimulated to provoke coughing. Similarly, the test results showed that theobromine actually did inhibit the sensory nerve depolarisation in the vagus nerve.

So in layman's terms, how much chocolate or cocoa would one need to suppress a cough?

"We gave them the equivalent of about two cups of cocoa," Barnes said. He added that dosing quantities have yet to be further developed.

Source:  New Scientist

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