Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Bit of Medicine: Cocoa as Cough Suppressant

I wrote this February 16, 2007 and it’s been sitting in my drafts folder ever since. I opened it up because I was researching some of the info in here because my husband has a bit of a cough right now. I’m not sure why I never posted this.

So I went to the doctor today. Because I’ve lost my voice. Because I’ve been coughing a lot. Because I have asthmatic bronchitis.

Blah, blah, blah.

I go round and round with this. I’ve been getting bronchitis rather regularly since I reached adulthood. (However, this is the first case since I started on Singulair two years ago, so cutting my incidence in half is a success in my book.)

imageNow, my guess is right now you’re saying, “This is a lot more personal post than Cybele regularly writes.” This is true ... don’t worry, it’s candy related.

While I was waiting for the doctor (who kindly fit me in on a Friday late in the afternoon on a holiday weekend) I was reading a magazine called WebMD. Mostly because all of the other magazines available were either golf related or about parenting. This one had Hugh Laurie on the cover, who is not a doctor but plays one on TV (and plays an American, to boot).

It was filled with lovely factoid pages, with a special section that advised me to use the first stall in a public bathroom because it’s the least used and least germy and to never, ever touch the handrails on an escalator ... because after all, I don’t want some rhino virus on my fingers when it’s much better to stumble face first into those spiky edges of the moving stairs ... much better to embed those germs into open wounds. But again, I digress. Somewhere there was a page that mentioned that chocolate is a good cough suppressant.

At that moment I think I hacked up part of my lung and then went and had it X-rayed to be sure. (To clarify, they X-rayed my chest, I discretely disposed of the thing I coughed up.)

CocoaVinoI made a mental note that I had to research this further, however, I went home with a lovely prescription for a promising cough medicine called Tessalon (you remember him from the Lord of the Rings books, right?), so it was only kind of in the back of my mind at that point.

After several hours of feeling better (though still unable to speak above a whisper), I recalled my mission:

In November 2004, the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology published a study that examined the efficacy of using theobromine in chocolate as an anti-tussive (cough suppressant). The study found that 1000 mgs suppressed coughs as well as codeine for four hours with no side effects. (Check this out: Theobromine inhibits sensory nerve activation and cough.)

Last time I tried to go to the store and buy pure theobromine I was stymied.

Now, my big question is how much chocolate do you have to eat to get that 1,000 mgs of theobromine?

Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Bar (1.45 oz) has 184mg of Theobromine
Unsweetened (Baker’s) chocolate (1 oz) has 390-450 mg Theobromine
Milk Chocolate (1.55 ounces) has 75 mgs of Theobromine
Cocoa powder, unsweetened 1 tbsp, has 111 mgs of Theobromine

It’s obvious the best bang for the buck is gonna be straight cocoa. So, one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa has 12 calories and 111 mgs of theobromine. So if I need to consume 1,000 mgs every four hours, I’ll need to eat ... um, a lot of cocoa (9 tablespoons/108 calories per dose and figure I’m awake for 16 hours a day that’d mean 36 tablespoons/432 calories). That’s a lot of calories with very little enjoyment. (I’d figure I would put them in gelatin capsules and swallow them.)

Cacao Reserve ChocolateNow of course the tastier way to do involves actual chocolate. I don’t think I’d be able to stomach the amount of baker’s chocolate required, so let’s just go with the assumption that an ounce of high quality very dark chocolate (70%+) has about 300 mgs of theobromine. So 3.5 ounces is required, which just so happens to be the normal size for many premium bars. I would figure I would buy them by the box, because I’ll be needing to eat four of those a day. And logging 550 calories on average with each one ... um, yeah, that’s pretty much whole whole day’s caloric intake (on days where I’m particularly active, I might add).

The average price for a premium super dark bar is about $3.50 ... so it would cost $14 a day. But then again, because it’d be my full day’s worth of calories, I wouldn’t have to cook or eat anything else!

The thing to take away from all this though is that a strong cup of hot chocolate when you have a serious cough just might be the best thing for you. Try one quarter cup of good quality cocoa, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 8-10 ounces of milk. Heat over the stove in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Be careful not to boil. Drink. Feel better.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:20 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyFeatured News

  1. I just had to stop by and just express my laughter you gave by confirming my observation that most magazines in doctor’s offices are golf or parenting related!  I bring my aging father to the doctor all the time and I swear this is all they have!  I am always bringing my own books (cookbooks wink ) and magazines with me…

    Sorry just had to share.

    (Great blog too, I watch you show candy almost everyday and some of it is weird and funny in itself - love it!)

    Comment by Lewis on 1/03/08 at 4:47 pm #
  2. What a sweet remedy! smile

    Comment by Sera on 1/04/08 at 3:17 am #
  3. Thank you Dr. Cybele!  I will get started on my medicine right away! grin

    Comment by Maggi on 1/04/08 at 3:44 am #
  4. I used to be suffering from bronchitis & severe nasal drip a good 10 or 20 weeks out of the year, total.

    After several years of suffering, I finally figured out the two problems causing this: Humidity and sleep.  My humidistat was set at 0%.  I set it up to 40 18 months ago, and set an hour window for wakeup and fall-asleep time.

    I’ve felt sick several times since, but it’s never lasted longer than a day or two, or been more severe than a light cough and sore throat.

    Comment by anonymo on 1/04/08 at 6:39 am #
  5. My husband has had a lingering cough for the last 6 weeks due to several bouts with colds.  I’ll try having him sip hot chocolate today to see if that can help him out.

    About 6 years ago we moved into a new to us house where I developed severe asthma. I took all types of stuff.  One of the doctor’s I saw thought my asthma was caused by something in our home.  So we had the deep cleaning of all the duct work done (the type where they go to each duct and vacuum).  Then we had the carpet in several rooms removed and it turns out the carpet pad had started to disintegrate and was putting powder into the air.  As soon as we took out several rooms of carpet, I was doing so much better.  If you haven’t checked out your house…you might want to see if there is something that might be aggravating you.

    Take care and I hope you do better this winter.

    Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A go go

    Comment by Sheltie Girl on 1/06/08 at 4:16 am #
  6. Dear Cybele - Is it an old wive’s tale that milk causes phlegm?  The hot cocoa could be made with soy or rice milk.  Stay well.  Love, Mom

    Comment by Eva on 1/10/08 at 6:51 am #
  7. I laughed out loud at the escalator part! And now I’m wondering: could you put all that chocolate onto a health reimbursement account request. “It’s medicinal chocolate, i swear!” Somehow, I doubt it…

    Comment by Tricia on 1/10/08 at 4:16 pm #
  8. I have been coughing my head off for weeks.  They have Xrayed, sympathized and came up with Bronchial spasms and “the thing that is going around.”  They didn’t really want to call it pneumonia…I mean, isn’t it yes or no?  Kinda like being pregnant.  You aren’t “sort of” pregnant. I was running a fever and coughing until I sounded like a gathering of seagulls fighting over a rotten clam on the beach. 

    I have tried about 5 kinds of cough syrup with codeine.  Except for an occational buzz, it isn’t helping my cough any. 

    I am willing to try the chocolate experiment.  I mean…wow…what a way to go!  Even if the cough doesn’t get better, at least I am not going to be drinking that horrible crap in a bottle they have been giving me. 

    Thanks..You made me smile, almost feel better and I am headed for the chocolate counter!

    Comment by Nancy on 6/23/08 at 3:02 pm #
  9. Well my 5 year old is sick with what I think is Bronchitis - so I’m going to try the hot chocolate thing today for her!  Thanx.  smile

    Comment by Angela on 9/19/09 at 1:57 am #
  10. Has no-one on this site ever tried chocolate and reported the results?  Or have all the reports been purged?

    Comment by George on 2/18/12 at 12:38 pm #
  11. Cybele's avatar

    George - I haven’t had any first hand reports here regarding chocolate. I also haven’t seen any more recent peer reviewed studies about theobromine. Too bad.

    On a happier note, I haven’t had bronchitis that required a doctors treatment in about 2 years. I credit it to hour-long morning walks.

    Comment by Cybele on 2/18/12 at 12:47 pm #
  12. That was quick.  You probably already know:
    Ahn-Gook of Korea performed a phase III clinical trial between May 2010 and May 2011, but I have not been able to find the results (maybe in Korean??).  Nevertheless, it appears that the product is authorised and marketed in Korea.

    Meanwhile, SEEK and Pernix announced an acution of world rights (excluding S. Korea) to the specific formulation in Mar 2011 - with final stage trials to start 2H2011 with the intent to license in late 2012.  Then it all went quiet…

    Comment by George on 2/18/12 at 1:58 pm #
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Next entry: 3 Musketeers Cherry & Raspberry

Previous entry: Candy Dump 2008 part 2
















  • .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
  • Here are some frequently asked questions emailed to me you might want to read first.


    For a daily update of Candy Blog reviews, enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner






Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.





Facebook IconTwitter IconTumblr IconRSS Feed IconEmail Icon


Candy Season Ends

-683 days

Read previous coverage



Which seasonal candy selection do you prefer?

Choose one or more:

  •   Halloween
  •   Christmas
  •   Valentine's Day
  •   Easter




These candies will be reviewed shortly: