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Published on January 9th, 2019

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Crio Bru

Let’s not mince words: Coffee is awesome. What other work-appropriate product allows you to feign enthusiasm during meetings without being tagged as the Energy Drink Guy of the office? Though, if we’re being honest, it does have some drawbacks, including disruptive effects on sleep if you drink it too close to bedtime.

Enter Crio Bru.

The drink is brewed like coffee but made from cacao beans, the primary ingredient in chocolate. The result? A “99.9% caffeine free” drink that the company claims will make you feel as if you just woke up from a good night’s sleep, as opposed to having one stolen from you by java.

What’s the magic ingredient? In a blog, Crio Bru cites theobromine as the alternative energy source:

Theobromine, the primary stimulant in cacao, has a synergistic relationship with L-theanine that has been proven to further increase focus and calm and peaceful energy (6).

The footnote links to this article, which links to this study — sponsored by the Hershey Company. That’s right, Big Chocolate. And the study — which examined the brain activity of subjects who ate a 60 percent cacao confection and found increased levels of alertness and attention after consumption — has its shortcomings.

Under “Limitations,” the authors of the study note, among other things, that they “did not directly measure attentional behavior.” In other words, participants just sat there. That may be an accurate representation of a portion of the workforce but it weakens Crio Bru’s claim that cacao increases focus as subjects weren’t required to complete any tasks. We’d also point out that it’s an ingredient study and not a product study on the company’s actual beverage.

That said, preliminary research suggests that consuming chocolate has certain cognitive benefits. But that does not mean that Crio Bru should be making statements such as the following:

  • Cacao also contains serotonin, a “feel-good” brain chemical and a primary neurotransmitter in the body that is a natural anti-depressant and plays a major role in mood and emotional health.

It’s words like “anti-depressant” that so often find their way into FDA warning letters related to unapproved drug treatment claims. This is due to the fact that marketing products as having the ability to treat, cure, alleviate the symptoms of, or prevent developing diseases is simply not permitted by law without FDA approval.

After all this, there’s also some general confusion on Crio Bru’s website regarding whether the drink is supposed to wake you up or put you to sleep. After establishing that the drink provides energy, Crio Bru makes a 180 turn and says that since cacao contains tryptophan, the chemical with the ill-deserved reputation for causing post-turkey naps (it’s only partly to blame), that it can lead to “better sleep.”

Welcome, dear readers, to the new perplexing world of hot chocolate.

Find more of our coverage on energy drinks here.

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Only drugs can be marketed as having the ability to diagnose, cure, treat, prevent or mitigate a disease, and the only way for a product to gain legit drug status is by getting FDA approval, which means any product that doesn’t get FDA approval can’t say it has the ability to diagnose, cure, treat, prevent or mitigate a disease.

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