Effects of cocoa-enriched diet on orofacial pain in a murine model


Objectives: To investigate and discuss the effects of cocoa on orofacial pain.

Setting and Sample Population: The Department of Orthodontics at the University of Florida (UF). Male and female hairless rats (N=20/group) were tested.

Materials and Methods: Rats were tested using the Orofacial Pain Assessment Device (OPAD) before and after changing their food from the standard chow to a cocoa‐enriched or control‐equivalent diet.

Results: Male rats fed the cocoa diet had a significantly higher operant pain index when tested at 37°C as compared to control diet‐fed animals. Female rats on the cocoa diet had a significantly higher pain index when tested at 18°C and 44°C, as compared to animals fed the control diet. Capsaicin‐induced pain was inhibited, with cocoa‐diet male rats having a significantly higher pain index than control‐diet male rats and cocoa‐diet female rats at both 37°C and 44°C. Cocoa‐diet female rats had a significantly higher pain index at 44°C than control‐diet females. Mechanical sensitivity was affected following capsaicin cream, with a significantly decreased tolerated bottle distance in both cocoa‐ and control‐diet animals, but there was no difference between cocoa‐ and control‐diet groups.

Conclusion: Using the OPAD operant system, we demonstrated that a diet rich in cocoa was effective in inhibiting neurogenic inflammatory pain in rats. This has implications for the use of novel alternative therapies such as diet modification for pain control.



Document Type





analgesia, cocoa, murine, operant, pain

Publication Date


Journal Title

Orthodontics & craniofacial research