Why Chocolate Isn't Really Helpful For Your Cough

You know when you can feel yourself getting sick? It's just the worst. The initial stages of denial don't last as the soreness in your throat slowly turns from a mild annoyance to a very painful experience. Your nose may have suddenly plugged up, and your neck aches from supporting a head that suddenly feels like it's doubled in weight. Yes, some or all the signs may be there, but before you accept you're ill and head to the vending machine to grab a consolatory chocolate bar, take a moment to pause first (and blow your nose if you need to).

You may have heard a rumor that chocolate helps with cough and cold symptoms. But it is likely just a myth that started with one study and an active group of chocolate lovers. The study, reported via Health, claimed that cocoa was, "stickier and more viscose than standard cough medicines, so it forms a coating which protects nerve endings in the throat which trigger the urge to cough." We understand why chocolate lovers rejoiced and started spreading the good news. Unfortunately, upon further investigation, the cocoa cough medicine that was used in the study also contained diphenhydramine — an antihistamine found in many other cough and cold medicines

The other reason you may be using chocolate as medicine while sick

One of the study's consultants, Dr. Morris, clarifies to Health that a cocoa-based medicine used in the study is absolutely not the same as a chocolate bar. "Drinking chocolate won't have the same effect, as the cocoa isn't in contact with the throat long enough to form a protective coating," he says. "Slowly sucking on a piece of chocolate may provide some relief, but I think it is the way the chocolate compounds work with other ingredients in the linctus which make it so effective."

With the rumor being put to rest, you may still be feeling the urge to reach for that Snickers. Not only does your body experience a physical blow while being sick, but you're likely feeling stressed not being able to get daily work and errands done. Registered dietician Rebecca Scritchfield explains to The Huffington Post why chocolate during this time feels like an obvious pick. "When we're stressed out, we have a high level of a hormone called cortisol...We crave sugar because if we eat some sugar, we will actually get another hormone called serotonin, which is calming and relaxing." So while chocolate may provide a temporary soothing effect from the stress, it won't help you with your cough. 

It's completely up to you, but now that you know chocolate won't cure your cold symptoms, you may want to save the sweet snack for other occasions.