Monday, July 22, 2013

Chocolate as Medicine?!

Candy Industry

New book looks at ‘Chocolate as Medicine’

Authors research medicinal uses of cocoa over the centuries.

July 17, 2013

While it may be easy to understand why ancient cultures thought chocolate
 could provide an energy boost, and cocoa butter was used to treat skin
disease, a new book also reveals that chocolate has been used as a
remedy for tuberculosis and even snake bites.
© The Royal Society of Chemistry
Chocolate as Medicine: A Quest over the Centuries, written by Philip K. Wilson
 and W. Jeffrey Hurst, looks at the different ways cocoa has been used for
medicinal purposes over time.
Wilson is a professor of humanities and the director of The Doctors of
Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine at Penn State College of Medicine,
while Hurst is a principal scientist at Hershey Foods Technical Center and
an adjunct professor of comparative medicine at Penn State Milton S. Hershey
 Medical Center.
The two found each other through one of Wilson’s students, who first had done
 a research project on the topic.
Wilson says they were surprised to realize that there wasn’t any book, in any
language, dedicated entirely to the way chocolate has been used as a medicine
 for health, or in relation to diseases and disorders.
So, they found a publisher interested in the project, and spent about 18 months
 researching everything from old world folktales to current-day marketing
Chocolate as Medicine Book“It was surprising for me to find that over time chocolate has been
recommended for just about any ailment that we could think of,” Wilson says.
And while they did find some surprising uses — such as the snake bite remedy —
 they also found that many of the uses were the same ones we would think of
“Three of the most common reasons were to promote some kind of weight gain,
 to improve digestive capacities and to just stimulate some weak people,”
Wilson says. “An energy boost is one of the most sustainable reasons that
chocolate has been used. That was nice to find that continuity.”
The chapters are broken down by timeline.
“The last chapter is sort of a reprise of where it is in medicine right now,”
Hurst says. “[It] looked at the current research of cocoa.”
And while the book is filled with medical history, Wilson says it doesn’t have any
medical advice in it.
“It’s not a self-help book, it’s a historical coverage. I certainly didn’t want to give
any glimpses of false hope out there,” he explains.
Wilson says he’s already taught the book as part of a survey class on the history
 of medicine, and mid-way through the course, Hurst came over to talk to the
students as well.
Wilson thought the students might have some really good questions for Hurst
about the medicinal uses of cocoa, but of course, they really just wanted to know
 what it’s like to work for a candy company.
“He had a blast talking to them about things in his field,” Wilson says. “It’s been
 test-marketed for our class. They were excited to actually be in the class where
 the teachers had actually written the book, and vice versa. We were actually
really excited to hear their take.”
The book was released in October by the Royal Society of Chemistry,and was
 named Gourmand Magazine’s Best Book of 2012 in the category of Chocolate
 for books published in the United Kingdom, and second place in the same
category for books published throughout the world.
“We were pretty darned excited,” Wilson says. “This has been one of the most
 fun projects I’ve set myself to.”
The fun’s not over yet. Now the two are co-editing a book about chocolate and
 health that’s slated to come out in 2014.

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