17 October 2009

Chocolate really does make things better!

Tomorrow is the end of National Chocolate week, which in my house has been a wonderful excuse to indulge in the most delicious of temptations. And now according to an article in the journal of neuroscience, nibbling on food and drink can act as a painkiller. Researchers at Chicago University have found that eating or drinking for pleasure, as distinct from hunger or thirst, acts as a natural painkiller.

Dr Peggy Mason led the Chicago team that found that rats were less bothered by pain if they were eating or drinking. Previous studies indicated that only sugary food and drink would protect against pain however this one found that it made no difference whether the rats were eating chocolate or drinking water. What this suggests is that the calorie consumption doesn’t matter – water has no calories, saccharine has no sugar but both have the same effect as a chocolate chip. Dr Mason was quoted in a daily mail interview this week as saying “it is really shocking!”

The researchers say a part of the brain called the raphe magnus - helps blunt pain when eating or drinking. The same area evidently eases pain while sleeping or going to the lavatory.
This is bad news for kids going to the doctors for their jabs. Past studies have shown that babies suffer less pain if they are given a sugary drink while having an injection. Dr Mason confirms that while ingestion is a painkiller we don’t need the sugar to ease the pain. I’m not sure I would have got away with a glass of water as a bribe with my kids when having their boosters! Click here for further information.

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