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Discovering A Tasty, Natural Cough Remedy

You may remember -- particularly if you're a chocolate lover -- a study I posted last summer that found small daily doses of flavonoid-rich dark chocolate helped the blood vessels dilate better when eaten over a two-period period.

New research has discovered an ingredient present in chocolate could help stop persistent coughs. Theobromine, a derivative found in cocoa, is nearly a third more effective in stopping persistent coughs when compared with codeine, currently considered the best cough medicine. Theobromine works by suppressing vagus nerve activity, which is responsible for causing coughing.

European scientists gave 10 healthy volunteers theobromine, a placebo or codeine at different times in a randomised double blind trial. To compare the effectiveness of each, they measured the levels of capsaicin (used in clinical research to cause coughing and as an indicator to test the effectiveness of cough medicines) in the volunteers and compared them after dispensing the three options.

The amount of capsaicin give to those taking theobromine was around a third higher when compared with the group receiving a placebo and only marginally higher when comparing codeine to the placebo.

Even better, theobromine caused no adverse effects on either the cardiovascular or central nervous systems.

The trick about chocolate: Pay attention to the processing of the cocoa. The standard manufacturing of chocolate destroys about one-quarter to one-half of its flavonoids. Now, some companies are using processing methods with reduced heat and alkalization, which can preserve as much as 70 percent to 95 percent of the chocolate flavonoids.

So, if you are going to eat chocolate, do so only if you're healthy and in moderation.

EurekAlert November 22, 2004

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