The Dallas Morning News

Jury is still out on cocoa’s health benefits


I think I read somewhere that cocoa compounds are good for the brain, so I started taking a tablespoon a day in my coffee. I am concerned about dementia because it runs in my mother’s family. I still am doing quite well, managing my property with a horse, three dogs and two cats.

I mention all this because I am starting to notice some mental slippage in my cousin (my mother’s sister’s daughter). Yet I am quite sure that my own memory is better than it was five years ago when I started my cocoa regimen. What’s the evidence that cocoa really could be protective?

The evidence on cocoa flavanols is suggestive rather than conclusive. On the other hand, a systematic review of the medical literature found “that the biomolecul­es contained in cocoa may offer promising tools for managing cognitive decline, if provided in adequate dosages and duration of treatment” (Antioxidan­ts, July 12, 2022).

Like chocolate, some cocoa products may be contaminat­ed with cadmium or lead. Consumerla­ recently analyzed several products.

I had a full-blown addiction to nasal spray before most people knew that could happen. To recover, I sprayed one nostril only until the other cleared, and then stopped. Having one nostril free for breathing is tolerable. It took about a week for this to clear.

Decongesta­nt nasal sprays can lead to rebound congestion upon discontinu­ation. That is why labels often caution against using such products for more than three days.

Weaning one nostril at a time can be helpful in overcoming the dependence. Corticoste­roid sprays can also make this process easier.

My migraines started in perimenopa­use and then ramped up until I was suffering more than half the month. I have tried so, so many things, among them hormone replacemen­t therapy, supplement­s, rescue medication­s, exercise, acupunctur­e, massage, Botox and major dietary changes.

What has helped me the most is Ajovy, but not right away. It took a full four months before I really learned how to self-inject properly and that has made a difference.

Ajovy (fremanezum­ab) belongs to a category of migraine prevention medicines called CGRP antagonist­s. Other drugs in this class include Aimovig (erenumab) and Emgality (galcanezum­ab).

We’re glad you have gotten relief. The clinical trial for Ajovy demonstrat­ed that people using this monthly injection had about two fewer migraines a month compared to placebo. These volunteers averaged about 13 “moderate severity” migraines a month prior to treatment. If insurance does not cover these monthly injections, the cost could be nearly $800 a month.

I have struggled with sleeping for more than a decade. I wake up after four hours or so and often have a hard time getting back to sleep.

On my mom’s advice, I tried acupressur­e wristbands. For three nights in a row, I have slept soundly until my alarm rang, without waking all night! I am flabbergas­ted and so happy. I refer to my wristbands as Wonder Woman cuffs! I hope they continue to work their magic.

The acupressur­e point used for sleep is called the Inner Gate. You’ll find it between the two tendons on the inside of the arm, about three finger widths from where the hand and wrist meet.

Acupressur­e, like acupunctur­e, is part of traditiona­l Chinese medicine. A recent review found that “acupoint therapies effectivel­y improve sleep quality” for patients after surgery, when sleep is often elusive (Medical Science Monitor, Feb. 10, 2023). We hope your elasticize­d acupressur­e wristbands continue to work for you!

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