Cocoa at bedtime may be more than just a pleasant drink.
Now the chocolately flavoured powder has been found to help curb the tiredness that is typically associated with multiple sclerosis.
Like dark chocolate, cocoa is rich in flavonoids which are found in lots of fruit and vegetables and have anti-inflammatory properties.
People with multiple sclerosis suffer mental and physical fatigue and nothing has been found to give any long term relief.
Some previous studies suggested that dark chocolate helped people with chronic fatigue syndrome (ME).
This prompted researchers to test the potential of dark chocolate or cocoa in helping those with MS.
A group of 40 adults, recently diagnosed with MS, were given either a drink of high flavonoid cocoa mixed with rice milk or a low flavonoid version, every day for six weeks.
Their levels of fatigue were measured on a scale three times a day and their activity monitored with a pedometer.
Improvements of 45pc
At the end of the six weeks those drinking the high flavonoid drink showed a 45pc improvement in fatigue and an 80pc improvement in walking speed.
They also reported that their pain symptoms had improved.
The researchers believe that cocoa might be an easy, safe and cost-effective way to impact quality of life for these patients.
A fuller study is now underway.
Dr Paolo Ragonese of the the University of Palermo, commenting on the study said: “although this study is an exploratory trial, it adds further interesting suggestions to the possible effects of flavonoid intake on the management of fatigue in patients with MS”.
The study is published online in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.