Study will look at the impact of chocolate on MS

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

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A research team at Oxford Brookes University will receive nearly £70,000 to assess whether chocolate can help to reduce symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS).

The study, which is funded by the MS Society, will look at whether a compound found in chocolate can help to reduce fatigue in people with MS; one of the most common symptoms of the condition.

Dr Shelly Coe, Lecturer in Nutrition at Oxford Brookes and lead researcher for the trial said: “Dark chocolate is generally seen as a food that’s bad for you but it has good things in it – including flavonoids. We have run the idea of this trial past a lot of people such as those at MS support groups and medics and they have really liked it.

“We will be looking at the impact of cocoa flavonoids on inflammation and the role that plays in fatigue. There is no cure for fatigue in people with MS, although the majority of those with the condition experience this symptom at some point.”

We will be looking at the impact of cocoa flavonoids on inflammation and the role that plays in fatigue. There is no cure for fatigue in people with MS, although the majority of those with the condition experience this symptom at some point.

Dr Shelly Coe, Lecturer in Nutrition, Oxford Brookes University

Researchers will use flavonoid-rich hot chocolate in the trial. Flavonoids are a group of compounds found in lots of plant-based food, including dark chocolate with cocoa levels of over 70 per cent. They are thought to help reduce inflammation and the damage caused by harmful molecules which may be linked with fatigue. 

Forty people with the relapsing form of MS will be given hot chocolate daily over six weeks – half will get a flavonoid –rich cocoa drink and the others will get a cocoa drink with low levels of flavonoids. 

Dr Emma Gray, Head of Clinical Trials at the MS Society said: “We are really excited to fund this innovative work. More than 100,000 people are living with MS in the UK and many of them have to deal with the debilitating effects of fatigue on a daily basis. 

“We are delighted to be supporting this project as it is quirky and unusual, but ultimately based on robust scientific evidence. At the MS Society we want to explore creative ways of helping people with MS cope with their condition and we look forward to seeing the study progress.”

Those taking part in the study will fill in questionnaires about their fatigue levels, take part in walking tests and provide blood samples so researchers can check for signs of inflammation. They will also wear accelerometers; watches that will monitor their activity levels.

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