Can a flavonoid-rich cocoa drink improve fatigue?

Close up photograph of a broken up bar of dark chocolate

Lead researcher: Professor Helen Dawes

Based at: Oxford Brookes University

Our funding: £75,018

Status: Complete

About the project

Our researchers tested whether a flavonoid-rich cocoa drink could help combat fatigue in MS.

Flavonoids are thought to reduce inflammation and prevent damage caused by harmful ‘free radicals’. They’re found in lots of plant-based food, including dark chocolate with cocoa levels of over 70%. There’s evidence out there to suggest that flavonoids can help with fatigue, but up until this study there hadn’t been any studies involving people with MS.

What happened in this project?

The trial involved 40 people with relapsing MS. Half were given a flavonoid-rich cocoa drink, and the other half were given a cocoa drink with low levels of flavonoids.
Researchers measured the benefits of the flavonoid-rich cocoa drinks using questionnaires and walking tests. They also looked for signs of inflammation and ‘free radical’ damage in blood samples.

What were the results?

The researchers found that a daily drink of flavonoid-rich hot chocolate could have a positive long-term effect on fatigue. It is thought that the drink could also influence mood, cognitive performance, and the ability to perform certain movements.

How will this help people with MS?

We know that people living with MS need better ways to manage their fatigue, and finding effective treatments for fatigue is one of our top research priorities. We know that lots of people with MS are interested in the role diet can play in managing symptoms, but right now the evidence is lacking.

The results from this feasibility trial – the first of its kind – mean researchers are one step closer to finding out if a dietary therapy has the potential to improve fatigue in people with MS.

This research is still in its early stages, but with more data it is hoped that it will help us to find a treatment that could help people with MS manage their symptoms.

The difference you can make

You can help us to fund innovative and creative projects like this, which could provide relief for the many people that are affected by MS fatigue on a daily basis.

The next research breakthrough is in reach

Your donation will help stop MS.

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£30could process one blood sample, giving researchers crucial information about genes and the immune system.

£50could pay for an hour on a microscope, so scientists can study cells and tissue in greater detail and improve their understanding of the biology of MS.

£100could pay for half an hour of MRI use, so researchers can monitor the success of clinical trials and understand MS in more detail.

Every penny you give really does take us a step closer to stopping MS. Your donation will make a difference.

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£10a month could pay for lab equipment like microscope slides to study the building blocks of MS

£20a month could pay for lab equipment like petri dishes to grow bacteria important for studying genetics

£30a month could process a blood sample to help us understand what causes MS, so we can stop it in its tracks

Your regular donation means we can keep funding world class MS research with confidence. Together we will stop MS.

MS researcher at work in lab, using a pipette