Could daily chocolate supplements reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s disease? That is the thinking behind a new trial at Dresden University of Technology in Germany.
About 30 patients will be given 50g of either white chocolate, which contains no cocoa, or dark chocolate (85 per cent cocoa) twice daily for a week. They will then receive the other type of chocolate in a second week. The differences in their symptoms will be compared.
Low levels of dopamine in the brain are blamed for Parkinson’s symptoms like shaking – and researchers think cocoa could hold the key to less suffering.
Cocoa contains phenylethylamine – which has been proven to increase the release of the vital compound.
However, the study follows research from scientists from Assam University in India who said that phenylethylamine in chocolate may have actually caused Parkinson’s. “As consumption of phenylethylamine enriched food items has become an addiction in modern life, our proposed mechanism is of enormous significance and impact,” the researchers outlined in their study.
However, their tests were carried out on rodents rather than humans. Smaller amounts of phenylethylamine are also found in wine and cheese.
Meanwhile, Parkinson’s victims could also be helped by a drug used for liver disease.
Scientists found ursodeoxycholic acid (UCDA) increased energy levels in cells. A mutation in the LRRK2 gene is the single most common inherited cause of Parkinson’s disease. However, the precise mechanism that leads to Parkinson’s is still unclear.
For the study, published in the journal Neurology, researchers demonstrated the beneficial effects of the drug using the fruit fly.
About one in 500 people are affected by Parkinson’s disease, according to the NHS website.
They state that there are an estimated 127,000 people in the UK with the condition.