A new study by Dresden University of Technology in Germany has suggested that eating chocolate daily could help ease symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Researchers have found that cocoa may be a potential solution to the low levels of dopamine in the brain that cause symptoms such as shaking. The team believes that phenylethylamine, a compound found in cocoa, will be able to increase the release of dopamine. Phenylethylamine can also be found in small doses in wine and cheese.
The next stage of the research will involve 30 volunteers being given either 50 grams of white chocolate, which contains no cocoa, or 50 grams of dark chocolate (85 per cent cocoa). The subjects will take these supplements twice daily for a week and then given the other type of chocolate a week after - any differences in their symptoms are then recorded.
This research is actually quite controversial when considering that previous studies have suggested that phenylethylamine may actually cause Parkinson's. A study from Assam University in India states: "As consumption of phenylethylamine enriched food items has become an addiction in modern life, our proposed mechanism is of enormous significance and impact. Limited consumption of these foods is recommended.”
It is important to note, however, that the Assam research was carried out in rodents and not humans.
It is estimated that 127,000 people in the UK suffer from Parkinson's, with one in 500 individuals affected by the condition. It is caused by a loss of nerve cells in the area of the brain that creates dopamine, which helps to coordinate body movement.
In related news, the Sheffield Institute of Translational Neuroscience has been looking at ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) as a potential clinical trial for those with the condition. The drug is believed to have beneficial effects on dopamine neurons.
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