The medicinal use of chocolate in early North America

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2008 Oct;52(10):1215-27. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200700264.

Abstract

The medicinal use of chocolate has a long history in North America dating back to the 16th century. From Mesoamerican Codices and European Treatises scholars have determined that for hundreds of years the beverage called chocolate was administered to the sick and prescribed homeopathically to prevent illness. Yet, little scholarship exists that focuses on medicinal chocolate usage in early North America (18th-19th century). This paper examines medical practices during this era and associated medicinal norms with special attention given to chocolate/cocoa usage. Given the current scientific attention on the relationship between dark chocolate consumption and heart disease attenuation it is timely to investigate and chronicle America's medical forebears' understanding of, and practices related to, the medicinal use of chocolate. Indeed, there is a significant amount of literature to suggest that chocolate was used for wellness and to treat illness.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cacao / history*
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • Humans
  • North America