Read more in Home & Living

Is Chocolate the Next Big Cough Remedy? (We Hope So.)

Research has shown that properties of chocolate might work as a cough remedy. I think I feel a cold coming on.

Photo: Shutterstock / Alliance

Wouldn’t it be great if something as delicious as chocolate could help treat your cough and make your throat feel better? Fortunately, that’s the world we live in: Studies suggest chocolate could function as part of a successful cough remedy. Let’s take a look at why!


A Little Chocolate With Your Cough Syrup

Our first research comes from the ROCOCO study, which is 1) fun to say and 2) included almost 150 participants. The study was primarily focused on whether linctus (a traditional cough syrup mixture) or a chocolate-based cough syrup worked better to help stop a cough.

The full results of the ROCOCO study should be published later this year, but scientists are already saying that the results show that the chocolate-based syrup was more effective at stopping a cough (reducing cough frequency and sleep disruption, and leading to earlier reports of feeling better).The secret might be the tasty chocolate syrup. Cocoa has demulcent properties–which means that it’s really good at coating stuff with a protective film to help reduce inflammation. In other words, it excels at covering up tender throats and nerve endings long enough so that the active ingredients in cough syrup can work where it’s needed most.

And the active ingredients in the syrup? An antihistamine to reduce the cough reflex, menthol to cool and soothe, and ammonium chloride to loosen the cough.

While we’d like to suggest that you can switch out cough syrup for a drink of hot chocolate, that’s not the case. For one thing, hot chocolate isn’t in contact with the throat long enough to have the same effect. And, another really important point: The cocoa added viscosity to the syrup so it could coat the throat, but it was likely the three active ingredients that worked together to calm coughs.

So, stay tuned for possible chocolate-based cough syrup on pharmacy shelves someday! It would have to taste better than the fruity-cherry kind.


Eating Theobromine With a Cough

You may be wondering, “Why not just skip to the heart of the matter and start gnawing on a chocolate bar when you have a cold?” We have more good news! A chemical in chocolate called theobromine has shown promise as a way to stifle coughs.

A study from the Imperial College in London compared theobromine and codeine, the long-used chemical in many cough syrups that disrupts the coughing reflex, and it found that theobromine was better than codeine at stopping a cough before it started! What’s even better is that theobromine has none of the known side effects of codeine, like drowsiness. Plus it’s not addictive so there would not be the same problems of abuse that comes with codeine.

That’s a pretty old study, but with the new interest in cocoa as a soothing coating to stop coughs, who knows? We might see a new, chocolaty cough medicine in the future.


Bottom Line

For right now, scientists caution that a lot more research is needed. Who knows how much chocolate you’d have to eat to get the same effects as the study, or what the role of other active ingredients is? But when it comes to chocolate, we have a pretty good reason to try out this remedy anyway.

The next time your throat is a little ragged, break out the very best chocolate and start looking for good recipes!

Our Top 10 Best Chocolate Recipes

Irish Creme Chocolate Trifle

Coconut-Pecan German Chocolate Pie

Sandy's Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Chip Cookie Delight

Ultimate Double Chocolate Brownies

Warm Chocolate Melting Cups

Yummy Zucchini Chocolate Cake

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Mousse Cheesecake

Three-Chocolate Fudge

Taste of Home

Chocolate Thumbprints Cookies

T. Lacoma
I have owned a freelance writing business for the past three years, writing a variety of articles on finance, technology, environmental issues, home repair and other topics.