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Chocolate Consumption Increased in Parkinson's Disease Patients

Posted Oct 06 2009 9:40pm

The subject of my chocolate consumption has always been a standing joke with my family and friends. One of my co-workers suggests that if I’ll do a task for him he’ll send me chocolate.  Truly the way to motivate me is to offer me chocolate…not the expensive Godiva (although I’ll GLADLY take it off of your hands!) but just the normal, grocery store chocolate bars.

So, today I stumbled upon an interesting article published in March, 2009 Journal of NeurologyChocolate consumption is increased in Parkinson’s Disease reports results from a self-questionnaire study that shows Parkinson’s Disease patients (or people with Parkinson’s = PWP) actually do show increased consumption of chocolate!  See, this is NOT my imagination or a plot to manipulate my loved ones for more of the yummy stuff!!

This study had almost 500 PWP and their partners complete a questionnaire asking about chocolate and sweets consumption, the changes in their consumption and their depressive symptoms.  The PWP showed significant increase in chocolate consumption versus the control group.  So, now why is that??

We all know that chocolate has the reputation of being a mood lifter and we associate chocolate with pleasure.  But something I discovered from this study is that chocolate contains β-phenylethylamine, a substance produced by our bodies that can act as a neurotransmitter. This substance also crosses the blood/brain barrier (unlike carbodopa which needs levadopa to do that in PD treatment).  Chocolate also contains caffeine and some of its’ structures have antiparkinsonian effects.  So, there are at least two substances in chocolate that can positively affect PWP.

I’d rather eat chocolate than take all the meds I currently take for Parkinson’s Disease!!  So, bring it on!  Let’s serve chocolate at every neurologists’ office visit and physical therapist appointment.  The only questionable side effects would be acne and weight gain….and I haven’t had acne in many, many years.

I’ll take the side effect of weight gain and exercise more now that I can state a REASON for increased chocolate consumption everyday!  YIPPEE SKIPPY!!

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