Cocoa can benefit patients with multiple sclerosis

A new study has shown that drinking hot chocolate daily could help to reduce fatigue and tiredness among people suffering from MS (multiple sclerosis). The results of this new study were published in the latest issue of the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

The team of researchers from Oxford Brookes University and the Univesity of Palermo, explain that cocoa contains flavonoids and these flavonoids are compounds that are well known antioxidants. These flavonoids reportedly help relieve tiredness and pain. Flavonoids are present in raw cacao and several other plant based foods. These also help in reducing inflammation.

Image Credit: Shutterstock
Image Credit: Shutterstock

MS is a severely debilitating and progressive disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It leads to symptoms of vision problems, movement problems and alteration of sensation and balance.

This new study was supported by the MS Society and in this 40 people with MS were included. The study was of six week duration. These patients all had the relapsing remitting form of the disease. They were divided into two groups. The first group was given a cup of cocoa which is rich in flavonoids while the other group received a different version of the drink with less amount of flavonoids.

Results showed that those patients who were given the cocoa drink with higher amount of flavonoids felt less fatigued compared to the other group. Mood, cognitive performance as well as certain physical movements were improved with the flavonoid rich drink. There was a 45 percent improvement in the alertness of the participants and a 80 percent improvement in speed of walking the team reported. While the former was reported by the patients themselves, the latter was individually measured.

Dr Shelly Coe, senior lecturer in nutrition at Oxford Brookes University in her statement said that the next step would to “to know exactly how effective flavonoid-rich hot chocolate is and whether it can benefit all people with MS before it's recommended.” Dr Susan Kohlhaas, director of research at the MS Society added, “We know fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of MS and it can have a huge impact on quality of life, so finding more comprehensive treatments that help is one of our top research priorities.”

Doctor Paolo Ragonese, of the University of Palermo in Italy summed up, “Our study establishes that the use of dietary interventions is feasible and may offer possible long-term benefits to support fatigue management, by improving fatigue and walking endurance. The use of dietary approaches to reduce fatigue and associated factors in people with MS may be an easy, safe, and cost-effective way to have an impact on quality of life and independence, allowing people to feel more in control of their condition. A full evaluation, including wider geography, longer follow up and cost effectiveness is now indicated.”

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