For nearly two decades, readers have been falling in love with J.K. Rowling's bedraggled teacher Remus Lupin, who makes his first Harry Potter appearance offering our heroes a chocolate bar. While the jury is still out on whether chocolate is the best defense against dementors, scientists may have chanced on a similarly delightful solution for a much more common problem. Tea and honey may not actually be the best way to fend off a cough.
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According to researchers at England's University of Hull, some ingredients in chocolate have proven more effective in fighting persistent coughing than regular cough syrup. This comes down to the way chocolate melts in your mouth — literally. Chocolate "is stickier and more viscose than standard cough medicines," writes Hull's Alyn Morice in the Daily Mail, "so it forms a coating which protects nerve endings in the throat which trigger the urge to cough."
Hot cocoa, unfortunately, isn't the silver bullet to stop coughing; the beverage passes through your throat too quickly to sufficiently coat its surface. Morice suspects that "slowly sucking on a piece of chocolate may provide some relief," but overall, it's chocolate's inclusion in a special formula that confers the biggest advantage. While these trials are still preliminary (and U.S. shelves aren't likely to see a cocoa-based cough syrup any time soon), it might be worth stocking up on your favorite chocolate sweets the next time you feel a cold coming on. If nothing else, as Remus Lupin teaches us, it'll make you feel better.