Snortable Chocolate Claimed to Boost Energy: Is It Safe?

Cacao powder in a bowl
(Image credit: Dionisvera/Shutterstock)

This chocolate isn't for dessert: A new "snortable" chocolate product called Coco Loko is being marketed as a drug-free way to feel energized. But some health experts said they are wary about the effects of inhaling chocolate through your nostrils.

"It's not generally a good idea to put anything in your nose that doesn't belong there" or isn't prescribed by a doctor, said Dr. David Hiltzik, director of otolaryngology at Staten Island University Hospital in New York. "It's quite clear that, at least empirically, chocolate does not belong in your nose."

The product contains raw cacao powder along with other ingredients, including taurine and guarana, often seen in energy drinks, according to The Washington Post. The company behind the product, Legal Lean, says that snorting Coco Loko "will give you a steady rush of euphoric energy and motivation." It's now available for purchase in the United States and costs $24.99 for a container of 10 servings.

The specific health effects of this product are unknown, because there haven't been any studies on its short- or long-term effects, Hiltzik said. However, it's usually not a good idea to snort substances, including powders, through your nose, because they can cause irritation to the nose, throat and lungs, Hiltzik said. [7 Foods You Can Overdose On]

It's not clear, either, if the product gets absorbed into the bloodstream after it is inhaled, he said. But substances that are absorbed into the blood through the nose tend to take effect faster than those that are digested, Hiltzik said. (Energy drinks, which contain high levels of caffeine along with ingredients such as taurine and guarana, have been linked with potentially harmful health effects, including elevated heart rate and high blood pressure.)

This isn't the first time anyone has marketed snorting chocolate. More than 10 years ago, the Belgian chocolatier Dominique Persoone invented a small, catapult-like device called the "chocolate shooter" for snorting chocolate powder. During a 2015 interview about that product, Dr. Jordan Josephson, a sinus and ear, nose and throat specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, told Live Science that snorting any type of powder can damage the tiny hairs in the nose, as well as nasal membranes. "Putting any foreign bodies — including smoke, cocaine and/or chocolate powder — [in your nose] is not safe and is not advised," he said.

Ultimately, Hiltzik said, he would not consider Coco Loko safe until there was more information available. He also noted that there is a perception that "natural" products are safe, but this is not always the case.

Legal Lean did not immediately respond to a request for comment about its product's health effects. On its website, the company says that its products "may impair your ability to drive a car or operate machinery and may cause health problems." The company also says their statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Original article on Live Science.

Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.