A new study funded by the UK MS Society will fund researchers at Oxford Brookes University to see whether chocolate can reduce fatigue, one of the most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
Dark chocolate, to be specific, is packed with flavonoids and magnesium and is a major anti-oxidant that helps alleviate oxidative stress and reduce inflammation.
Flavonoids are thought to reduce inflammation and prevent damage caused by harmful ‘free radicals’. They’re found in lots of plant-based food, including dark chocolate with cocoa levels of over 70%. There’s evidence out there to suggest that flavonoids can help with fatigue, but there haven’t been any studies in people with MS yet.
The research team will be giving hot chocolate to 40 people with relapsing remitting MS for four weeks; 20 of them will get a flavonoid-rich cocoa drink and 20 will get a cocoa drink with low levels of flavonoids.
They’ll be measuring whether the flavonoid-rich cocoa drink is beneficial by asking the volunteers to complete questionnaires about their fatigue levels and taking part in a six-minute walking test. They’ll also be looking for signs of inflammation and ‘free radical’ damage in blood samples.
The study will give 40 people with MS hot chocolate every day for six weeks. Half of the small group of participants will receive a drink high in flavonoids, while the other portions will contain low levels.
In the UK, more than 100,000 people are diagnosed with MS. Most of these sufferers deal with the crippling effects of fatigue caused by the disease every day, researchers said.
“We are delighted to be supporting this project as it’s quirky and unusual, but ultimately based on robust scientific evidence,” said Dr. Emma Gray, head of clinical trials at the MS Society.
Meanwhile, the MS Society announced earlier in November 2015 that they will support 78 new research projects regarding the disease.
The society allocated more than $21 million to back studies that will focus on finding methods to stop MS, restore body functions that have been lost, and ultimately, end the disease. Scientists will pursue research on gene/environmental risk factors of MS, nervous system repair, as well as wellness and lifestyle.
Cynthia Zagieboylo, CEO and president of the society, said the research grants will help in identifying every day solutions that will change the lives of those with the disease