For most adults, drinking red wine and eating dark chocolate is a fairly surefire method of making a bad day better. Toss in a good movie and a comfy blanket and you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a quality evening that can put a sweet note on a sour day.
Knowing this, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to learn that researchers have just discovered that red wine and dark chocolate can actually be used to treat depression. Well… sort of, anyway.
Researchers with Virginia Tech’s School of Neuroscience have discovered that two compounds found in red wine, grapes, dark chocolate, and blueberries — or as I like to call it, “breakfast” — can be used to treat depression. But don’t dash for the nearest supermarket just yet, because there’s a catch. Isn’t there always?
Only trace amounts of the two compounds — Dihydrocaffeic acid (“DHCA”) and malvidin-3-O-glucoside (“Mal-gluc”) — are present in consumables, which means you’d need to drink a lot of wine and eat a lot of chocolate to really see the effects. And if you actually tried to drink that much wine in a sitting, chances are you wouldn’t see much of anything, apart from that friendly pink elephant who keeps egging you on to “drink more of your bad-day-go-bye-bye juice.”
Study co-author Georgia Hodes says the findings have thus far only been tested in mice, and that human trials haven’t yet begun. But she’s hopeful this discovery — a treatment she refers to as both “prophylactic and therapeutic” — could blaze a new trail for treating depression.
“This is a new way of thinking about treating depression,” Hodes said. “The compound we developed works by targeting inflammation in the body and plasticity in the brain. We took this approach because these are factors that we know are altered by depression in humans. This is one of the first compounds that was developed to directly alter identified molecular mechanisms of depression.
“One of the things I think is really important about this study was that we used two different animal models of depression, one in males and one in females, and the compound was equally effective in both sexes,” Hodes added. “Most studies still do not include females even though there is a higher incidence of depression in women than men.”
Again, it’s important to note that you should not guzzle red wine while stuffing your face with dark chocolate and blueberries. Of course, if you do find yourself doing that regardless, at least now you can say “Don’t worry, it’s for science!” when your friends and family attempt to intervene. And all of the groundbreaking treatments this study might present down the road? That’s all pretty cool, too.