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Chocolate Treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Discussion in 'General Treatment' started by Emootje, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. Emootje

    Emootje Senior Member

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  2. Hanna

    Hanna Senior Member

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  3. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    I'm not feeling up to a video at the moment, but if that's the trial I'm thinking of, it didn't show that chocolate benefits ME. It was a pilot trial with results too poor to be carried forward to a large-scale trial, to begin with. There were ten participants, of which four dropped out, and the placebo was...wait for it...white chocolate dyed dark. And then the newspapers started braying about how chocolate will cure ME. It's the trial I use as an example of how poor research can be, or how much it can be manipulated by the media.
     
    L'engle and SickOfSickness like this.
  4. Sparrow

    Sparrow Senior Member

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    I'm not up for watching a video today, but I'm a little fascinated by the concept, though I think any sweeping claim about cures for this is probably a crap.

    A few of my symptoms (mostly mood-related) are sincerely and totally cured (and the difference isn't subtle enough to be my imagination), so long as I keep up a regular intake of dark chocolate. If I stop the dark chocolate, they come back with a vengeance. Plus side, I feel better on it. Down side, I will have one heck of a time stopping dark chocolate now (and I'm not sure it doesn't have a few milder negative effects for me too). I'm not sure whether it's the endorphin side or the dopamine-releasing side that is helping, but it's good while it's there. Very good. Maybe I'm just super sensitive to it, and the dopamine release is giving me a high like other similar drugs. :) Don't feel high, though. Just feel normal for once.

    But I still most definitely have ME, even when taking chocolate. And there are a ton of symptoms that are untouched.

    Still,...didn't Dr. Bell come to some kind of opinion about our endorphin levels potentially being messed up? Maybe that has something to do with it. The effect is certainly real, at least for me. Don't imagine it would help everybody.
     
  5. Mark

    Mark Acting CEO

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    Last time the subject of chocolate studies came up I got dragged into an argument about it, because I've found that good quality, organic, soya-free, dairy-free dark chocolate makes a big difference for me, and I take it as if it were medicine, especially when my mood is low or I'm relapsing.

    I'm not going to get into an argument about it now - the CFS study referred to was a tiny one and funded by Nestle so yes it's not a great piece of evidence on its own, and yes anything like this is reported badly in the media in any context - but I will repeat the point at which that argument ended last time round.

    I was challenged with the claim that this chocolate study was simply an insult to ME patients and told to 'get real' and realise that if AIDS patients and Cancer patients were fobbed off with chocolate studies there would be an outcry. It only took 5 minutes to find a long list of chocolate, cacao and flavinoid studies for HIV and cancer, and anyone who looks up PubMed and searches for those terms can find similar examples very easily.

    The most recent study I found with a quick search just now is a meta-analysis published last month (Mar 2012), comparing the results of 42 separate Randomised Controlled Trials of chocolate, cocoa, or flavan-3-ols in relation to cardiovascular health:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22301923

    The particular study referred to may have been small, but the subject being studied is in no way a joke, and there's plenty of good evidence of the health benefits of the right kind of dark chocolate, even in relation to the most serious conditions. I could probably find 100 more links like the following, but anyone can search PubMed to find more like this:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21471539
     
    Little Bluestem likes this.
  6. kurt

    kurt Senior Member

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    I use raw cacao powder in a hot daily rehydration drink and it does help. I like the cacao because it makes the rehydration drink taste a bit like hot chocolate. But the dose suggested in that video is crazy high, I only use a few teaspoons per day at the most, sometimes just a half teaspoon once or twice daily. Sweetened with Stevia, and also I add L-Lysine to counteract the Arginine in the cacao, which seems to be important. In my experience the chocolate is not a magic answer, but it does seem to improve the effectiveness of my rehydration drink. The rehydration drink improves my energy levels, helps me sleep through the night, and reduces PEM. The cacao may be part of that effect. So this report seems plausible, but only as part of an overal treatment, certainly not a focal treatment.
     
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  7. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    People who are finding a benefit from chocolate - what sort of chocolate are you consuming, how much, and what sort of benefit have you noticed?
     
  8. Helene

    Helene

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    and the recipe is??

    Hi Kurt,
    Can't help but ask: what is your rehydration recipe? In fact, what is the whole recipe with the cacao and the l-lysine etc. I sure want to try something that will give me a lift. :))))

    I also read your other post about work, and I too miss work. I just want to work more than anything.
    Kind regards,
    Helene
     
  9. laura

    laura Senior Member

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    I haven't written in reply to a thread in quite some time, usually just reading/lurking, but as a chocoholic, I had to respond! :)


    I eat a small square of dark chocolate (73%) almost every morning. Psychologically it's a treat, and physically I find it gives me a small energy and mood boost. It helps my thinking a little too. Sometimes I also have a small square in the afternoon, if I feel my energy/mood/brain needs a boost. But never at night or I won't be able to sleep.

    At one point I thought, if a little is good, more must be better, right? So I increased the amount of chocolate in a very-not-scientific way, increasing to about 1/2 of a good sized chocolate bar. Again, always about 73% cocoa. And I found that I just got frustrated because it did nothing for my ME. And my treat had become medicine. Not enjoyable anymore. So I'm back to my am treat and pm booster.
     
  10. Mark

    Mark Acting CEO

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    Organic dark chocolate - 87% cocoa solids; nut, egg, dairy and soya free (I have to avoid all those) - the hardest thing to find was the soya free version, this uses sunflower lecithin as an emulsifier:

    http://www.plamilfoods.co.uk/organic-chocolate/

    I agree with Kurt, I certainly wouldn't put it forward as a magic cure-all, but I'm confident it helps - I try to always have some in and just eat a little when I feel like it, but when I'm relapsing, or especially if I'm feeling down (I would recommend it for depression!), it's one of a number of things I turn to.

    One of the things that gets me about common attitudes to chocolate is the idea that it's fattening, bad for you, or just a decadent kind of thing to feel a bit guilty about - I think most of that is about the history of how it's been used, manufactured, and especially then marketed (which is actually quite interesting). The vast majority of chocolate products out there are particularly fattening and unhealthy because of the dairy content, the added sugar, etc, but high cocoa dark chocolate is rather different...admittedly the fat content is still high but I do suspect there's a lot of difference between different kinds of fat, and I don't think there's much reasonable doubt that cocoa contains some pretty remarkable stuff that's beneficial for health.
     
  11. Gavman

    Gavman Senior Member

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    I spotted a study recently in the daily telegraph about chocolate being good for the metabolism.
    I have found the major downpoint of chocolate, other than a big sugar dump through the liver is that it dehydrates, which can slow the system down. It probably feels good because while we're pumping out noradrenaline due to mental/physical/psychological alarms going off that shouldn't, then chocolate can have a calming effect due to the serotonin and calming blood pressure.

    As a high percentage of CFSers have troubles digesting fructose/sucrose/glucose, its probably a safe bet to keep it as a treat. At least its a healthier vice than smoking or drinking. :)
     
  12. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    Laura - what size of small square? You can generally work this out quite easily. If the chocolate bar is 100g, and it is comprised of largeish squares, 2 across and 5 along, then it's 10g (e.g. Lindt). If it's 3 across and 8 along, then each piece is about 4g, and if it's 4 across and 9 along, then it's about 3g per piece. And the reason why I know all this is because I have just been losing weight and I have had to measure out my chocolate properly, instead of just wolfing it down.

    Anyone who thinks that you can't wolf down dark chocolate, or that it's "not really fattening" despite the high fat content - hah. Nope, sorry, that one doesn't wash. If you're one of the subtype of ME where you can eat far too much and still can't keep the weight on, then of course you don't need to worry about chocolate being fattening. But if you tend the other way and find that you keep on putting on weight, and especially if you've checked accurately and you're not actually overeating (very easy to overeat with a poor routine and memory problems - it's why I put on weight, but it's not true of everyone with ME, some have problems with metabolism or what have you), then you do need to be careful with it. I think the people who regard dark chocolate as magically non-fattening and non-moreish are used to milk chocolate. I've not had milk chocolate in fifteen years, and believe me, dark chocolate can be just as bad. You just have to get used to it.

    Mark - ick, Plamil? Admittedly I partly don't like them because they were playing silly buggers a while back and really put off a lot of people with a holier-than-thou attitude that included crapping all over the Vegan Society, but I've always thought their food tastes horrible too. I'm surprised that you couldn't find more chocolate without any of those ingredients, or do you have to watch out for trace contaminants from machinery etc. too? I've always been told that those only affect people who have very severe (i.e. life-threatening) allergies, or else people who are practising dietary restrictions for religious ritual purity reasons (kashrut or halal). If you're not looking at the trace contaminant level but just at the ingredients, there is loads, and even if you are looking at the trace contaminant level (though you can't be for soya, Plamil uses that all the time - I think it's why the taste is often poor), there must be more than Plamil. Have a look at the range at Real Foods, for instance. Much of it is horribly pricey, but once you start deliberately eating very small amounts, it matters less, and you appreciate it more. I adore the raw chocolate-covered raisins, for instance, although not the prices Real Foods sell them at. Organica is another brand I like. Divine just tastes odd to me, though it's OK in cooking, plus I see it uses soya lecithin so that's no use for you. Green and Black is another one with soya lecithin, and they were very weird about exactly how much dairy gets into their chocolate the other year, plus I hear there are fairtrade problems, so I tend to stay off them.

    In terms of eating cocoa powder alone, I do make stuff with cocoa powder, but the one time I tried it in an electrolyte drink (which already has d-ribose in there as a sort of sweetener), I found that it made me far too jittery, heart racing and so on. Possibly the fats and sugars help tone that effect down? I wasn't having much cocoa powder, that was the odd thing. Anyway, I make up chocolate peanut butter balls as small snacks (pretty healthy ingredients, and they're only the size of Maltesers so about 20 calories each), which I find give me a nice protein boost and are a good pick-me-up. Also I make my own chocolate spread, as the commercial dairy-free ones are both vile and overpriced, but that won't be any good for you, Mark, as it's composed of hazelnut butter, dairy-free margarine, cocoa powder, syrup of choice (usually agave - maple tastes divine but gives me a bit of a head rush), and a bit of soya milk to stop it going too thick in the fridge (though another milk would do, I'm sure). That isn't for health purposes, though, that's for the joy of having lovely dark chocolate-hazelnut spread every now and again, and I'm mentioning it for people who feel that they need dairy-free chocolate-hazelnut spread in their life. It's very easy, you just stir it all together (trying not to let the cocoa powder puff all over the place). Hazelnut butter is the best nut butter I've tried for this, it tastes good and isn't too thick, although now that I'm adding a bit of milk in for the texture, I may try messing around with almond butter (much thicker) instead, if I can find an affordable one that isn't salted. You could de-soya it easily enough by using another plant margarine and if needed, another plant milk. Not sure about de-nutting it: would tahini taste good?

    By the way, only 73% or so, folks? That's not really all that dark. I'd have thought you meant 85% or higher! I generally go for Lindt for that, though on having a look, they appear a little fuzzy around the "may contain traces of" area. Tesco sells a couple of own-brand 85% chocolate which I recall as being good, and one of them even seems to fit Mark's criteria (if he doesn't mind nuts having previously been around on the machinery) - and is mercifully cheap compared to the other brands I've been discussing. I find that I need to get to about 85% before the chocolate is dark enough that it's always easy to stop at one 3g piece. With 70% or so, sometimes I can stop there, sometimes it's harder. I was given a bar of 99% once, which took a while to get into. Generally I ate it broken into little pieces with some raisins (green raisins if I can get them, delicious), and often some almonds as well. Probably not the best snack for dieting, this is before I learnt about calories and just how dense in them nuts are, but I think it's reasonably healthy, and you'll be getting a nice dose of minerals at the very least.
     
  13. perchance dreamer

    perchance dreamer Senior Member

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    I love Theo's 91% dark chocolate. It's organic and fair trade. In spite of the high chocolate content and low sugar, it's very smooth. I eat only 1/2 ounce a day and find it easy to keep it down to that amount.

    You can order it from Amazon, or, if you're lucky enough to live in Seattle, you can get it lots of places. I live in Austin and get Theo's at Whole Foods.

    They also have a 85% dark chocolate, but I really prefer the ultra dark stuff.
     
  14. Jenny

    Jenny Senior Member

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    I prefer the dark stuff too - and it does give me a mood boost. I have about 50gm of Lindt 90% a day - I really dislike anything with less cocoa than that now.

    I guess 50gm is quite a lot, but it's very hard to stop once I've started.

    Jenny
     
  15. baccarat

    baccarat Senior Member

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    I also have a preference for the bitter noir. It also gives me an energy boost.
    It's hardly surprising though there are studies that's an effective antidepressant and also showing it's helpful in CFS.
     
  16. xchocoholic

    xchocoholic Senior Member

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    Of course I tried this .. Lol .. I even went on the "Never say No to chocolate" protocal. If the urge hit, I ate it. In case you're wondering, I made it up all by myself.

    My problem is that I'm super sensitive to all stimulants So one small square of very expensive dark chocolate keeps my adrenals spinning for at least 24 hours. It took completely eliminating caffeine for a few months for my adrenals to relax. I do this from other things too. Some supplements, like b12 and p5p, nail me.

    Enjoy .. tc .. X
     
  17. laura

    laura Senior Member

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    I generally buy Trader Joe's Organic Dark Chocolate (just chocolate and sugar, by the way, no additives), sometimes Valhrona. The TJ chocolate is made formed into squares. So a square for me is...literally one of the squares of the bar. No idea about calories. But the bar is shaped into 12 squares.

    I should have been more detailed in my post. When I was trying to use chocolate medicinally, I used both 73% and 85%, plus snacking on cacao bits. I now usually keep to approx. 73% because that's the level my taste buds prefer and that's the percentage of my current favorite chocolate! :)

    I don't use cocoa powder much, although I did when I used to make smoothies a lot. Occasionally I will make a vegan chocolate pudding that includes cocoa powder, avocadoes (don't taste it, just gives smoothness), sweetener, and spice.
     
  18. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    I heard about chocolate avocado mousse a while ago. I am still looking at the recipes with suspicion, I must confess. I haven't had an avocado in months due to gallstones, but now that I've had surgery, I plan to return to the joys of avocadoes, and I might try mixing up a small amount and seeing what it's like. Some people say they can taste the avocado underneath, some can't.

    The Trader Joe's chocolate you mention turns out to be a standard 100g (3.5oz) bar, so your squares are just over 8g each. Nice size.
     
  19. laura

    laura Senior Member

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    I didn't realize there is a connection between avocado and gallstones. It sounds like you came through the surgery well, though, which is good.

    I have to say, I also was skeptical the first time I made the recipe. But I wanted an alternative to dairy-based or soy-based chocolate puddings. The key is to blend VERY well - there can't be any lumps. I don't know what the ratio is in the recipes you've looked at, but my recipe is 6 tablespoons of cocoa to 1 avocado. For me that's enough cocoa to cover the avocado flavor.
     
  20. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    It's not avocado so much as it is fat. If you eat too much fat at one sitting and you have active gallstones, it is likely to set off an attack of excruciatingly painful biliary colic as a gallstone starts wandering on its merry way. Avocadoes are immensely high in fat and don't keep well, and I'm the only one in the household who likes them, so it was simplest to just stop eating them. Especially since I was on a diet anyway. I took a few things off the list for the time being, such as the lovely vegetable tempura my local Japanese place makes (ooh, I can have that again too), and was generally frugal with high-fat foods such as nuts or tofu.

    Goodness, that's a lot of cocoa powder! Duly noted.
     

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