Got a cough? You know the drill. Stockpile the honey and lemon and head back under the doona to hibernate. But it turns out there might actually be something more effective for curing your cough. And you’re really going to like it.
Yep, chuck away the cough lozenges, pour the hot drink down the sink because turns out that chocolate is the serial cougher’s BFF.
According to a leading cough and respiratory medicine expert cocoa is actually a more effective method of treatment than many traditional remedies.
“Chocolate can calm coughs,” Professor Alyn Morice, head of cardiovascular and respiratory studies at the University of Hull, and a founding member of the International Society for the Study of Cough, wrote in The Daily Mail.
“I know that might sound like something out of Mary Poppins, but as an independent clinician who has spent years researching the mechanism of cough, I can assure you the evidence is actually as solid [as] a bar of Fruit and Nut.”
Professor Morice references a new European study of over-the-counter cough remedies, which found that patients who took a new medicine containing cocoa saw a significant improvement in their cough and sleeplessness within two days, compared to those taking standard cough syrup.
And that’s not all. Because turns out this isn’t the first study that suggests chocolate can help calm coughs. Researchers at London’s Imperial College found that theobromine, an alkaloid in cocoa, suppresses coughs better than codeine, a drug traditionally found in many cough medicines.
So what is it about the brown stuff that makes it so effective? Researchers claim it’s because cocoa has demulcent properties, which basically means it relieves inflammation or irritation. Essentially, it’s stickier than typical cough syrup, and forms a better coating to protect the nerve endings in the throat, which trigger the urge to cough. It’s the same explanation as to why honey and lemon also help soothe coughs, although not quite as effectively.
But before you swap your honey and lemon for a soothing mug of hot chocolate, Professor Morice has a word of warning.
“Drinking hot chocolate won’t have the same effect, as the cocoa isn’t in contact with the throat long enough to form a protective coating,” he explains. “Slowly sucking on a piece of chocolate may provide some relief, but I think it is the way the chocolate compounds work with other ingredients in the [cough syrup] which make it so effective.”
We knew our chocolate habit would come good one day. Flake anyone?