Chocolate Helps Diarrhea: Flavonoids help reduce fluid, find researchers

A new study conducted by researchers at Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland is the first to discover that flavonoids in cocoa beans can limit the development of fluids that cause diarrhea. Scientists believe that these flavonoids can be used to create natural supplements to ease diarrhea symptoms. Dark chocolate contains high concentrations of cocoa and may offer mild relief.

The study found that cocoa flavonoids could bind to and inhibit a protein in the intestines called CFTR, which regulates fluid secretion in the small intestines.

“Our study presents the first evidence that fluid loss by the intestine can be prevented by cocoa flavonoids,” said Horst Fischer, PhD, co-author of the study. “Ultimately, this discovery could lead to the development of natural treatments that are inexpensive, easy to access and are unlikely to have side effects.”

History shows that the use of cocoa to treat diarrhea dates back to the 16th century by ancient South American and European cultures. Until now, no one knew exactly why the cocoa bean appeared to be a remedy.

For more than a year, scientists tested cocoa extract and flavonoids in cell cultures that mimic the lining of the intestine. All of the cultures reported lower fluid levels. Consequently, the tests confirmed that cocoa flavonoids are a possible remedy for diarrhea.

Children’s Hospital & Research Center at Oakland, Sept 29, 2005