A breakthrough in research is suggesting a whole new strategy for relieving fibromyalgia pain.

Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants called polyphenols. These compounds give plants some of their color, flavor, and healing qualities and are found not only in fruits and vegetables such as the blueberry, but also in cocoa, green tea, and  the exotic fruit  known as  the chokeberry.

Polyphenols in cocoa occur in higher concentration than in any other food, and have antioxidant activity much greater than that of broccoli or red wine. In fact, dark chocolate has about 10 times the antioxidant power of spinach as measured by the ORAC test

Research has shown Polyphenols  to cause an increase in blood supply by increasing nitric oxide levels. 100-120 mg/day of dark cocoa polyphenols have been shown to increase nitric oxide levels by as much as 40%.



The Parker Institute, Department of Rheumatology and the Danish National Library of Science and Medicine in Copenhagen, Denmark conducted scientific studies on the muscle pathology in fibromyalgia patients. They found fibromyalgia patients have a defect that prevents the normal increase of blood flow to their muscles when the patient becomes more active.

This lack of a healthy blood flow   to the muscles for energy and muscle repair causes painful buildup of lactic acid and consequently scarring because the tears are  not repaired properly. This is why we have to avoid repetitive motion.

Muscles must be used in order to remain healthy. Using a muscle signals the body to increase the blood flow to that muscle so the muscle’s mitochondria can take the oxygen and nutrients from the blood supply to repair muscle tears properly and cleanse that muscle of debris such as lactic acid. This is how muscles grow stronger as we use them.

A person who has fibromyalgia has a problem here because their body does not increase the blood flow upon use of their muscles. Therefore, the mitochondria cannot get the oxygen and nutrients from the blood supply to repair the muscles. This is a bad situation because the debris and lactic acid cannot be properly washed from the muscles and repairs cannot be made; the result is scarring of the muscle and pain.

This is the great thing about these findings about polyphenols. By ingesting cocoa prior to an activity or exercise, your muscles can gradually become stronger because they can now be well maintained. As your muscles become stronger, it will take less effort for you to move about. the lesser amount of effort needed to be active, the less cause of fatigue.

Polyphenols are not by any means a cure for fibromyalgia, but they do offer hope of leading a healthier,  more active life with less pain.

The Journal of the American Heart Association posted a report on a small single-blind, crossover study in which researchers gave 10 participants 40 grams (about 1.5 ounces) of dark chocolate that had at least 85 percent cocoa. The purpose was to test whether the dark chocolate could improve these PAD patients’ ability to walk on treadmills.

The Research study author,  Lorenzo Loffredo of Sapienza University of Rome, said they observed improved blood flow among the participants who walked an average 11 percent farther after eating the dark chocolate. He is then reported as saying, “Yes, my associates and I were surprised by the findings”.

polyphenols in the chocolate help to relax narrowed arteries and the better blood flow makes walking easier.

choc bar

I am not advocating the use of chocolate candy that is high in sugars and saturated fats, but rather the use the type of chocolate bars that have very little or no sugar and state on the wrapper what  percentage of chocolate they contain.

You can also use the cocoa powder that you buy in a box to use in making your own chocolate goodies without the added sugar and fats.

If you have a history of chocolate aggravating IBS symptoms such as gas and diarrhea, you  might  want to try  Dark Cocoa powder. The  “Dark” cocoa powder  (Dutch chocolate), found right alongside the “natural” cocoa powder is known for its anti-diarrhea qualities.

Researcher, Horst Fischer, PhD, an associate scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, said in a news release concerning using dark chocolate for diarrhea, “Ultimately, this discovery could lead to the development of natural treatments that are inexpensive, easy to access, and are unlikely to have side effects.”

for a quick pick-me-up before I take a walk or any other activity, I make a quick chocolate drink. To a 16-ounce mug, I add:

  • Two rounded teaspoons dark cocoa powder
  • Stevia and /or Splenda, to taste
  • Two or three tablespoons of hot water (just enough so it can be stirred) if you use too much, the cocoa will not mix as easily.
  • Mix well.

 Slowly add more hot or cold water as desired. *Do not add milk.

hint: Three level Tablespoons cocoa powder equals 1 0z chocolate,

People with fibromyalgia still have to be careful to approach exercising very carefully, but it is great to know that now you have a fighting chance to slowly and effectively build up your muscles.