Naperville woman says cacao plant helped to cure her illness

  • Colleen Finn, 11, of Oswego, tastes a chocolate-covered strawberry during the fifth annual Naperville Community Outreach Chocolate Festival in Naperville.

      Colleen Finn, 11, of Oswego, tastes a chocolate-covered strawberry during the fifth annual Naperville Community Outreach Chocolate Festival in Naperville. Marcelle Bright | Staff Photographer

Published1/20/2008 12:37 AM

Some of the worst years of Cathy Bouchard's life were spent suffering from the constant pain of fibromyalgia. And yet, the chronic condition led her to the best discovery of her life-- chocolate.

Bouchard described what she believes to be miraculous healing and health benefits of the plant behind what most of us think of as chocolate. Her story was part of the fifth annual Naperville Community Outreach Chocolate Festival, held Saturday at Neuqua Valley High School.


The event featured nearly a dozen chocolate vendors, children's games, cooking demonstrations and chocolate-crafting competition. All the proceeds benefited programs that help youth in dysfunctional homes.

Bouchard presented her findings as a lecture to fellow chocolate fans. She told the audience she was a long-time "chocoholic" before she discovered the cacao plant the treat comes from. Bedridden from the muscle and ligament pains of her fibromyalgia, Bouchard became a student of chocolate.

She learned ancient cultures used cacao to heal numerous ailments, earning it the "Food of the Gods" moniker.

Bouchard was on anti-depressants, painkillers and other medicine to address her condition. Nothing worked. So she decided to give cacao a try.

She dumped all of her medicines and began eating an ounce of cacao-rich chocolate every morning. About two months later, she had no more pain. Even her migraine headaches ceased. And her increased mobility helped her shed 22 pounds.

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Nine years of illness was beaten back by chocolate, Bouchard said. It took a long time before she told anyone but her husband that she credited the cacao for her turnaround. She realized her story seemed unbelievable.

Now Bouchard is trying to take her miracle cure to others with her Naperville store, Le Chocolat.

"I'm not looking to fill the store with profit," Bouchard said. "I just want people to know what good stuff is. This here is the most perfect food on the planet."

Bouchard's proof of her quest for health over profit is her ongoing health study of about 300 regular customers of her shop. She said just about all of them have experienced health improvements and weight loss.

For people considering exploring the benefits of cacao, Bouchard recommends chocolate with at least a 70 percent cacao content with no milk or milk fat.


Fifth annual Chocolate Festival competition winners:

This year's competition asked chocolate-lovers to craft deserts modeled after some of their favorite things. Winners concocted everything from kitten-shaped cakes to a chocolate model of the Green Bay Packers' Lambeau Field.

Elementary Level

1st: Miranda Johnson

2nd: (tie) Lucy Walsh/Kyle Johnson

Middle Level

1st: Alex Panther

2nd: Girl Scout Troop 1907

High School Level

1st: Alex Panther

Adult Level

1st: Angelique Johnson

2nd: Michael Kirk

3rd: Janet Dahmen

Professional Level

1st: Cathy Bouchard

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