A Treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

A Treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
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An industry-funded, randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial study suggests chocolate may improve symptoms for those suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome—a debilitating condition currently affecting as many as seven million Americans. But how do you get the cacao phytonutrients without the saturated fat and added sugar?

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Chronic fatigue syndrome is a debilitating condition characterized by a minimum of six months of crushing mental and physical exhaustion, and we have no idea what causes it. We don’t even have a good idea of how many people even have it. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that as many as seven and a half million Americans currently suffer from it. And we as physicians have very little to offer patients in terms of relieving those symptoms. So, this is one of the conditions that I’m always keeping an eye out for in terms of new treatments.

And one of the latest they just discovered? Chocolate.

Evidently, Montezuma the Second, who reigned the Aztec empire 500 years ago, noted: “This divine drink, which builds up resistance, and fights fatigue. A cup of [cocoa] permits people to walk for a whole day without food.’’ Not willing to take the emperor’s word for it, it was put to the test.

I’m always skeptical of industry-supported research, but it was actually a pretty good study. At first glance, it looked like they were basically saying eat three chocolate bars a day for eight weeks, and call me in the morning. But it was actually a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial, which is about as good as you can get.

The mad scientists over at Nestle took white chocolate, dyed it brown, and then added some sort of fake chocolate flavor, such that people couldn’t tell if they were eating the real chocolate or the fake. Comparable amounts of sugar and fat, but one had cocoa solids—phytonutrients—and the other basically didn’t.

So, they were able to put people on one, and then switch them over, without anyone knowing, to see if their chronic fatigue symptoms got better or worse. And there was a significant improvement in the real chocolate group, meaning it apparently wasn’t just the yummy taste of chocolate, but the action of the cacao phytonutrients.

Of course, no one should be eating three chocolate bars a day, but you can get the equivalent dose of cocoa solids, the equivalent dose of those wonderful cocoa phytonutrients, by consuming two and a half tablespoons of cocoa powder a day. You can put it in coffee, you can make a chocolaty smoothie, or, my personal favorite, you can blend it in a high-speed blender with frozen cherries or strawberries, a touch of non-dairy milk, vanilla extract, and some erythritol or some dates, and you have instant, decadent chocolate ice cream; low-fat, low-calorie, no cholesterol, no added sugar chocolate ice cream. The more you eat, the healthier you are—whether or not you’re suffering from chronic fatigue.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to John Loo and FrankBonilla.tv via Flickr, Mariluna and Evan-Amos via Wikimedia Commons, , and ChocolateCover.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a debilitating condition characterized by a minimum of six months of crushing mental and physical exhaustion, and we have no idea what causes it. We don’t even have a good idea of how many people even have it. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that as many as seven and a half million Americans currently suffer from it. And we as physicians have very little to offer patients in terms of relieving those symptoms. So, this is one of the conditions that I’m always keeping an eye out for in terms of new treatments.

And one of the latest they just discovered? Chocolate.

Evidently, Montezuma the Second, who reigned the Aztec empire 500 years ago, noted: “This divine drink, which builds up resistance, and fights fatigue. A cup of [cocoa] permits people to walk for a whole day without food.’’ Not willing to take the emperor’s word for it, it was put to the test.

I’m always skeptical of industry-supported research, but it was actually a pretty good study. At first glance, it looked like they were basically saying eat three chocolate bars a day for eight weeks, and call me in the morning. But it was actually a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial, which is about as good as you can get.

The mad scientists over at Nestle took white chocolate, dyed it brown, and then added some sort of fake chocolate flavor, such that people couldn’t tell if they were eating the real chocolate or the fake. Comparable amounts of sugar and fat, but one had cocoa solids—phytonutrients—and the other basically didn’t.

So, they were able to put people on one, and then switch them over, without anyone knowing, to see if their chronic fatigue symptoms got better or worse. And there was a significant improvement in the real chocolate group, meaning it apparently wasn’t just the yummy taste of chocolate, but the action of the cacao phytonutrients.

Of course, no one should be eating three chocolate bars a day, but you can get the equivalent dose of cocoa solids, the equivalent dose of those wonderful cocoa phytonutrients, by consuming two and a half tablespoons of cocoa powder a day. You can put it in coffee, you can make a chocolaty smoothie, or, my personal favorite, you can blend it in a high-speed blender with frozen cherries or strawberries, a touch of non-dairy milk, vanilla extract, and some erythritol or some dates, and you have instant, decadent chocolate ice cream; low-fat, low-calorie, no cholesterol, no added sugar chocolate ice cream. The more you eat, the healthier you are—whether or not you’re suffering from chronic fatigue.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to John Loo and FrankBonilla.tv via Flickr, Mariluna and Evan-Amos via Wikimedia Commons, , and ChocolateCover.

Nota del Doctor

For some of my previous videos on chocolate, see: Healthiest Chocolate FixUpdate On Chocolate; and my last recipe video on this topic, Healthy Chocolate Milkshakes. For why I’m so skeptical of industry-sponsored studies, see Food Industry “Funding Effect”, and my other videos on industry influence

For more context, check out my associated blog posts:  Strawberries Can Reverse Precancerous Progression, and How Probiotics Affect Mental Health.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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