I recently just found out I am pregnant with my second child. When I went to my OB/GYN today he told me to no longer use cocoa butter. The reason being that it contains caffeine and it has been known to cause irregular heartbeats in fetus' and infants.
Women have been using cocoa butter for centuries and I don't know what the difference is now.
Can you find out if this is being told to others and if I should stop using the product.
Keep enjoying your cocoa butter. It sounds like your doctor means well but is misinformed. I can relate; at the risk of losing your confidence I will confess that I am constantly making flight corrections in my thinking, because what we learn from new studies always forces us to look at the data anew. Nature shows us the data, and we have to keep our minds open in order to see what she is trying to tell us.
I have some research articles below that your doctor can read to clarify the points that I make here, if they are open to such a thing.
First, cocoa butter contains no caffeine. (Cocoa, on the other hand, does.)
So relax and enjoy your cocoa butter. If it is not processed completely it might contain teensy weensy iddy bitty little traces of caffeine that are entirely negligible in concentration; and these would be too scant in concentration to affect you physiologically (unless you spent all day eating vats of cocoa butter.) I am not sure if you are eating cocoa butter of using it topically. If you are using it topically, that further decreases the likelihood of your any negligible amount of caffeine being absorbed through your skin and becoming systemic.
Cocoa butter is mostly saturated fat. That is why it is a solid at room temperature, and melts in your mouth. For people who need to lower their cholesterol, the American Heart Association recommends reducing saturated fat to less than 6% of total daily calories.
Of course, if you apply cocoa butter to your skin, it makes a great moisturizing agent. I haven's seen any warnings on doing that, and often use topical cocoa butter myself. It's nice to put a chunk of cocoa butter in bath water.
Second, it isn’t at all clear whether caffeine is bad for pregnant women or their fetuses, but a few observational studies show that some small fraction of women drinking more than 3 cups of coffee daily (in other words, an obviously jittery amount of caffeine) might have a problem. So pregnant women should cut back on their caffeine consumption. I have never seen any study suggests that they should avoid caffeine completely.
This is the only precaution concerning caffeine that has really caught my attention, other than the obvious milder side effects like insomnia, nervousness, and an inordinately frequent longings to pee, assuming too much caffeine is consumed. This precaution does not surprise me, since too much of anything is usually bad for you. This is the first rule you learn in toxicology. You can die from drinking too much water, but that is really hard to do, for example.
When taken in moderate amounts, caffeine is associated with health benefits: decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease, decreased risk of suicide, decreased risk of liver cancer, and fewer gall bladder problems.
Plus, the drinks in which caffeine occurs (coffee, tea, and cocoa) also contain significant doses of antioxidant polyphenols and flavonoids, which can also be obtained in decaffeinated versions of tea and coffee if you don’t care for how caffeine makes you feel.
Earlier studies with caffeine were "confounded"; that is, researchers made the mistake of not worrying about other variables in an observational study. This is a potential problem with any sort of observational study, but it can be statistically controlled for if the researchers are prudent enough to worry about doing so. For example, former studies included people who both smoked and consumed caffeine, and the effects of smoking, which we know are bad, were not statistically edited out, so to speak, so the data was misleading.
Other studies involving animals can be suspect if tons of caffeine or any substance, indeed is used, because we know that the more you expose any animal to any particular substance, the more likely that substance will do harm. So you have to look at the doses in those studies and be more cautious about concluding a harmful effect, unless relatively small doses were used. For example, those famous studies of saccharin showing bladder cancer in rats used ridiculous megadoses of saccharin that no human would realistically take. (I keep all my saccharin on the top shelf of my kitchen--where the rats can't get it.)
Cocoa beans are processed to provide two main products:
1. cocoa solids, also called cocoa liquor (although it has no alcohol). This is what we use as cocoa powder. This part has all the flavor of chocolate and contains caffeine. However, cocoa solids contain much less caffeine than coffee.
2. cocoa butter, which is the fat obtained from the bean. It is almost entirely triglycerides (what people call “fat”). Caffeine is not a triglyceride; it is in a different chemical class called a methylxanthine. There is no caffeine in cocoa butter. White chocolate, which is made from cocoa butter without the dark cocoa solids, therefore contains no caffeine, either.
"The American public consumes a wide array of caffeinated products as coffee, tea, chocolate, cola beverages, and caffeine-containing medication. Therefore, it seems of value to inform both the scientific community and the consumer about the potential effects of excessive caffeine consumption, particularly by pregnant women. The results of this literature review suggest that heavy caffeine use (> or = 300 mg per day) during pregnancy is associated with small reductions in infant birth weight that may be especially detrimental to premature or low-birth-weight infants. Some researchers also document an increased risk of spontaneous abortion associated with caffeine consumption prior to and during pregnancy. However, overwhelming evidence indicates that caffeine is not a human teratogen, and that caffeine appears to have no effect on preterm labor and delivery. More research is needed before unambiguous statements about the effects of caffeine on pregnancy outcome variables can be made."
I hope that helps!