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Does Cocoa Powder + Hot Water give you digestive distress?

by (3690)
Updated about 20 hours ago
Created March 15, 2012 at 7:16 PM

I've tried some hershey's all natural cocoa powder in hot water (plain, or add grass fed butter), and each time, it's given me some nasty watery bowel movements.

Is this due to a magnesium effect or dosage effect, and if it is, does utilizing cocoa powder in other ways mitigate this effect?

I do love some chocolate/hot chocolate every once in a while, sans gross bowels.

UPDATE:

Great answers. Lots of answers. I stopped using cocoa powder for a while now, and no digestive distress has occurred. However, life has gotten slightly boring...I may start again. Re-updates to come.

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1173 · October 24, 2012 at 6:01 AM

I disagree with this comment except for the part about trying a different cocoa powder. Not necessarily a raw powder but something higher quality than Hershey, organic, and perhaps not processed with alkali. If that causes distress then you can deduce it is an inherent product of the cocoa.

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270 · October 11, 2012 at 7:35 PM

If it's the tannins, then you should be able to bind them up by using actual milk in your cocoa. I've heard that, at least in tea, the milk proteins bind the tannins.

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11581 · June 05, 2012 at 6:10 PM

There isn't enough magnesium in cocoa for that to be the problem in less you're using a HUGE amount.

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10 Answers

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10 · September 06, 2012 at 5:56 AM

Maybe you could try using raw cocoa powder and make sure to be eating it with other filling, fibrous foods. Chocolate is a muscle relaxant and mild laxative and can cause an effect much like cherry juice or prunes. If you are sensitive try using an alternative like carob or raw cocoa. Try making your hot chocolate more traditionally with raw cocoa and a natural sweetner and a vegan milk alternative that might do the trick.

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1173 · October 24, 2012 at 6:01 AM

I disagree with this comment except for the part about trying a different cocoa powder. Not necessarily a raw powder but something higher quality than Hershey, organic, and perhaps not processed with alkali. If that causes distress then you can deduce it is an inherent product of the cocoa.

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943 · October 24, 2012 at 6:59 AM

I've never had that problem using raw cocoa powder and water. Have you tried raw cocoa powder and then using a smaller amount? I'm thinking that it could be some of the same issues as some people have with coffee causing digestive issues. At least I get that if the coffee is too strong.

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35 · October 24, 2012 at 3:40 AM

Interesting, my father would get this problem every Christmas, it was the only time he ate a lot of chocolates(except for maybe Halloween leftovers).

I use home made hot chocolate(cocoa, milk, honey) as a digestive aid, a bowel muscle relaxant-or stimulant, I am not sure.....

I also put a half tablespoon of Maxwell House extra dark instant coffee in instant hot chocolate, occasionally, OR, make a low fat cappucino with powdered milk, sweetener & coffee, with a tablespoon of cocoa, for the same reason, it seems to stimulate bowel movements, which I need. But I don't do this every day, just 1-3 times per week.

My mother finds that she cannot sleep if she has coffee after 12pm(lunch), but as I prefer cappuccino, I find it puts me to sleep, I am sure it is the warm milk. It seems to help me relax. Only I make home made now, Tim Horton's & Starbucks cappuccinos are loaded with sugar, and surprisingly, salt!

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2029 · October 05, 2012 at 5:58 AM

Hmmm. I don't get that with chocolate, but I do get that a lot with coffee. It has the same effect that taking a dose of apple cider vinegar would give me. I wonder if there's a connection...

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1169 · September 06, 2012 at 7:38 AM

Yes, I drank hot water with cocoa powder and stevia every day before. Had to quit because of the digestive distress I got from it.

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15593 · August 15, 2012 at 11:58 AM

Yes, I get this from all forms of cocoa. I am pretty certain that it's from the tannins in the cocoa. It could be partly due to the caffeine and theobromine, except I don't get this effect from caffeine, even in significantly larger doses.

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270 · October 11, 2012 at 7:35 PM

If it's the tannins, then you should be able to bind them up by using actual milk in your cocoa. I've heard that, at least in tea, the milk proteins bind the tannins.

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431 · August 15, 2012 at 11:53 AM

Yes. But so, apparently, does cocoa mixed with anything.

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24538 · June 19, 2012 at 7:52 PM

I'm thinking it is dosage related, there's a lot of caffeine in there. Think about your average packet of hot cocoa mix. It is about a tablespoon of mixture, mostly sugar and powdered milk with some cocoa powder put in there. I'm guessing you put a big spoonful of cocoa powder in, which would be like drinking many hot chocolates at once.

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2799 · May 26, 2012 at 3:57 AM

I did the first few times I added it to whey shakes. Then I cut back to 1/4 teaspoon per shake and slowly raised it to 1 teaspoon per shake. It doesn't bother me anymore.

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9402 · May 13, 2012 at 2:51 PM

I've mixed cocoa powder with heated heavy whipping cream a few times and never noticed a problem. I don't really love the taste though.


Do you eat any other chocolate? Does that give you problems? I know people with IBS are advised to avoid chocolate because it may aggravate the digestive tract.

Also, people with gluten intolerance are told to avoid coffee. I know cocoa and coffee beans are not too related, but maybe it's relevant somehow:

http://paleohacks.com/questions/116223/avoid-coffee-if-gluten-intolerant

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