Edge

People Are Snorting Chocolate to Get High. Here's Why That's a Bad Idea.

The latest trend could give you an energy buzz...or it could destroy your nose and cause a slew of unpredictable side effects. An expert lays out what to consider before you inhale.

Heap of cocoa powder
Getty

You know that O.T. Genasis song “CoCo”? The one about a certain snortable substance. The one that goes “I’m in love with the coco.”

There’s a product on the market from a company called Legal Lean which takes that message in similar direction. (Hell, the song is even part of its marketing.)

It’s called "Coco Loko," and it’s basically snortable chocolate powder.

Yes, it's legal. Yes, it's technically drug-free. And no, it's not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Legal Lean markets Coco Loko as an "infused raw cacao snuff" packed with gingko biloba, taurine, and guarana—all familiar energy-drink ingredients. Legal Lean claims on its site that snorting the chocolate powder gives you a buzz akin to a runner’s high, the ecstasy of, well, ecstasy, and a euphoria that can "help you gain a natural competitive edge."

And sure, chocolate snuff is buzzy, bizarre, and new. Though it begs the question: Why not just down an energy drink?

Scientifically speaking, "substances get into the bloodstream faster through the nasal membranes than they do through the stomach," says Richard Lebowitz, M.D., rhinologist and associate professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at NYU Langone Medical Center.

That said, "this actually hasn't come up in my practice, but it sounds like a terrible idea, and nothing I’ve read makes me think otherwise," Lebowitz says.

Why snorting chocolate isn't necessarily a great idea:

1. Coco Loko isn't FDA-controlled. To be fair, lots of supplements aren't FDA-approved. Supplements aren't regulated like drugs or food are. "These substances themselves are not dangerous," Lebowitz says. "You’ll find cacao, gingko biloba, taurine, and guarana in supplements."

But here's the thing: Because snortable energy chocolate hasn't been extensively tested, nobody has a really concrete idea about how it affects people's bodies in the longterm. And the active ingredients don't need to be dangerous to have weird side effects—anything inhaled can cause side effects because of additives, Lebowitz says.

2. Inhaling anything can cause nasal problems. As you can imagine, snorting a foreign substance isn't good for your nose. It can cause "irritation, inflammation, and foreign body-type reactions, since you’re not meant to inhale them," Lebowitz says. Your body recognizes the substance as a threat, so you can experience reactions like a stuffy, running, or bloody nose—almost as if you're allergic to it.

"Your nasal lining is meant to clear substances, but if you fill it with some sort of heavy powder, I don’t know if it would form a thick paste that’s hard to clear," Lebowitz says. "It wouldn’t surprise me."

It's not just your nose, either: "When you snort something, especially a fine powder, there’s also a chance it’s going to end up in your lungs as well," Lebowitz adds. What happens if chocolate energy powder settles in the lungs? It's hard to say. "It depends on the size of the particle, what it is, and how your body reacts to it," he explains.

3. Inhaled products pack more of a punch. "There are many ways to get medicine into your bloodstream—whether it’s injected, ingested, inhaled—but inhaling is very effective, meaning there’s also a greater chance of experiencing side effects," Lebowitz says. When you eat or drink those supplements, your body absorbs them through your stomach lining, which can dilute their effectiveness slightly. Inhaling them, however, dramatically increases the payload.

The verdict? "If someone were in my office and asked if they should snort something like this up their nose, I would say absolutely not," Lebowitz says.

And if you’re desperate for cacao and gingko, or other energy-boosting ingredients, you're probably better off getting them from these 10 energy-boosting foods. As for chocolate? Just eat it.

Topics:
Comments