Yet another reason to love chocolate (as if you needed one)! According to researchers at the University of Hull in Yorkshire, England, chocolate may be more effective at calming a nagging cough than cough syrup. At least that’s the effect they observed in the 163 patients that participated in their study.
This isn’t new news, actually. A small study conducted at the Imperial College London previously found that the enzyme theobromine in chocolate seems to be responsible for its demulcent effects. It seems that this enzyme inhibits activity of vagal nerves, which would otherwise trigger the cough response. Aside from the palate pleasing factor, a does of chocolate instead of cough syrup suggests possibilities for people who are alcohol intolerant or who operate heavy machinery or drive for a living. It also provides an alternative to certain drugs found in conventional cough syrups that can produce adverse side effects, such as dextromethorphan, diphenhydramine, and codeine.
It should be noted, though, that these studies were small and they involved the use of a chocolate-based medicine, not chocolate bars or hot cocoa that typically cannot adhere to the lining of the throat long enough to be of benefit. However, you can make a homemade cough syrup that provides a demulcent effect via honey and the benefit of cacao powder, which has the highest concentration of theobromine. The addition of cayenne may seem counterproductive but the spice provides capsaicin, which interrupts a pain neurotransmitter called substance P. The powdered root of maca, a member of the ginger family, provides immune-boosting nutrients (including 19 amino acids) and provides a pleasant malt-like taste. Finally, cinnamon offers not only antimicrobial and antiviral properties, but is also antispasmodic.
Homemade Chocolate Cough Syrup
1 cup raw honey
1/4 cup cacao powder
½ teaspoon maca root powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Pour the honey into a bowl and whisk in the other ingredients until well blended. Transfer to a clean glass jar with lid. Store at room temperature and use within 6-9 months. To use, enjoy 1 tablespoon (1 teaspoon for children under 12) as needed. Do not give to children under 1 year.