Chocolate and Heartburn

HEARTBURN TRIGGER – CHOCOLATE

TO PUT IT SIMPLY….
Chocolate causes the muscle between the oesophagus and the stomach to relax. This allows for stomach acid to flow back up into the oesophagus, causing heartburn.

I WANT A BIT MORE DETAIL…
How can something so good be (for some people) so bad?
Sorry to say folks but, for those that are susceptible, chocolate can mean a one-way ticket to Heartburn town.
There is a naturally occurring compound within chocolate called Theobromine. Theobromine causes the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle to relax, leaving the doorway open for stomach acid to reflux back up into the oesophagus. Unfortunately, some people are highly sensitive to theobromine, and so even the smallest amounts can trigger heartburn.

The level of theobromine differs dependent on the type of chocolate. As a guide, dark chocolate usually has higher theobromine levels (roughly 10g per kg).
Milk chocolate on the other hand has significantly lower theobromine levels (anywhere from 1g to 5g per kg). The higher the quality of chocolate, the higher the level of theobromine.

SO, NO MORE CHOCOLATE THEN?…
Research studies from the University of Michigan and University of Minnesota have suggested that the serotonin levels in the gut may provide an answer to chocolate heartburn. The studies pointed to the increased serotonin levels in the intestines, stimulated by the consumption of chocolate. The studies looked at a serotonin-blocking drug (called Granisetron), with results indicating that it was effective at decreasing the number of reflux events.
Before you get too excited though, it does not appear as though the use of Granisetron in the treatment of chocolate heartburn has progressed any further.
Given that Granisetron is commonly used for nausea, perhaps there were other factors that detracted from its use in relation to heartburn.