Chocolate may cure coughs


Chocolate

Go on, have another bite (Image: iStockphoto)

An ingredient in chocolate could be used to stop persistent coughs and lead to more effective medicines, say U.K. researchers.

Their small study found that theobromine, found in cocoa, was nearly a third more effective in stopping persistent coughs than codeine, currently considered the best cough medicine.

The Imperial College London researchers, who published their results online in the FASEB Journal, said the discovery could lead to more effective cough treatments.

“While persistent coughing is not necessarily harmful it can have a major impact on quality of life, and this discovery could be a huge step forward in treating this problem,” said Professor Peter Barnes of Imperial College and Royal Brompton Hospital.

Ten healthy volunteers were given theobromine, codeine or a dummy pill during the trial.

Neither the volunteers nor the researchers knew who received which pill.

The researchers then measured levels of capsaicin, which is used in research to cause coughing and as an indicator for how well the medicines are suppressing coughs.

The team found when the volunteers were given theobromine, the concentration of capsaicin needed to produce a cough was around a third higher than in the placebo group.

When they were given codeine they needed only marginally higher levels of capsaicin to cause a cough compared with the placebo.

The researchers said that theobromine worked by suppressing vagus nerve activity, which is responsible for causing coughing.

They also found that unlike some standard cough treatments, theobromine caused no adverse effects on the cardiovascular or central nervous systems, such as drowsiness.

Dry coughs

The type of cough medicine someone takes depends on the type of cough they have.

Productive coughs, or coughs associated with phlegm, are treated with expectorants, drugs that help the body expel mucus from the respiratory tract.

But dry coughs are treated with antitussives, medicines that suppress the body’s urge to cough. And it is the antitussive class of cough medicines that the U.K. researchers looked at.

Antitussives can work centrally, via the brain, or peripherally, via the respiratory tract.

Codeine is one of the antitussives that acts centrally. But the researchers think that theobromine acts on the peripheral nervous system.

Theobromine is also a stimulant and belongs to the same class of molecule as caffeine.

While their chemical structures are similar, they have very different effects on the body. Theobromine is a mild, lasting stimulant that improves your mood while caffeine is stronger and acts very quickly to increase alertness.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 13th May 2009

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3 Responses to “CHOCOLATE CURES COUGHS..???”

  1. Topics about Chocolate | Science Articles & Inventions Online » Blog Archive » CHOCOLATE … Says:

    […] Editor created an interesting post today on Science Articles & Inventions Online » Blog Archive » CHOCOLATE …Here’s a short outlineWhile their chemical structures are similar, they have very different effects on the body. Theobromine is a mild, lasting stimulant that improves your mood while caffeine is stronger and acts very quickly to increase alertness. … […]

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