Theobromine – Review the Latest Research

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Many consider chocolate to be among the most delicious sources of pleasure. For many thousands of years, cocoa beans—the origin of genuine chocolate and coffee—were thought of as effective natural stimulants, relaxants, theobromine, aphrodisiacs, euphorics, and antidepressants. This is partly due to a chemical present in these beans called theobromine.

The first time this compound was discovered was in the 1840s by biologists who were studying the seeds that are bitter (or pods) of cocoa trees in Central and South America, who referred to the cocoa trees by the name of “Theobroma,” which means “food of the gods” in Greek.

Today, theobromine-rich foods like dark cocoa and tea are considered to be foods rich in nutrients that could also positively affect mood and cognitive function.

What Is Theobromine?

Theobromine is a volatile, bitter compound that is extracted by consuming cacao seed. Technically, it's an alkaloid (meaning an atom of nitrogen-containing chemical), which is similar to caffeine and can have similar effects.

What can theobromine do for humans specifically? Its effects include activating the heart, expanding blood vessels, and enhancing mood.

Does theobromine work as a stimulant similar to caffeine? Although it's not as potent as caffeine, it has certain stimulant effects, such as increasing heart rate, alertness, and urine production.

Theobromine vs. Caffeine

Both of these substances, known as methylxanthines can be found naturally inside cocoa beans (beans) and share similar physiological impacts. Theobromine can be found in greater quantities in chocolate and cocoa products than caffeine in coffee, and caffeine is found in coffee.

In general, the effects of theobromine are being studied much less than the effects of caffeine.

Together, these substances can be responsible for the uplifting and pleasurable feelings people are accustomed to when they drink tea and chocolate. Research suggests that both affect our mood positively and may reduce the risk of developing certain illnesses, such as neurodegeneration.

Where Is It Found?

Chocolate is perhaps the most well-known and popular source for theobromine but it's not the sole source. It is not only one of the chemicals that is present in cocoa beans it is also found in smaller quantities in many varieties of tea leaves and matcha green tea green coffee and coffee supplements theobromine in hot chocolate and kola nuts and other lesser-known plants.

To make chocolate, cocoa pods are broken into pieces, and the seeds are scooped and fermented, leaving an abundance of dense brown chocolate. Cacao nibs and dark chocolate contain the highest amount of theobromine, while milk chocolate has less.

Dark chocolate is richer in cocoa solid (plus typically less sugar and antioxidants) It's therefore the most beneficial way to consume theobromine.

If you're curious Cocoa butter contains small amounts of caffeine and theobromine. It's the solid part of the cocoa bean which is much lower in fat than the oil contained in the plant.

Cocoa butter is rich in antioxidants, certain minerals, and these molecules.

Health Benefits

1. Can Positively Affect Cardiovascular Function

Depending on the individual and the degree of sensitivity to its effects, theobromine's benefits include stimulating myocardial function or acting as a vasodilator. It can also aid in regulating blood pressure and support healthy circulation by expanding blood vessels.

It can also aid in maintaining healthy lung function, such as increasing airflow into the lungs and decreasing asthma symptoms. It also has mild anti-inflammatory effects.

Some studies suggest its ability to decrease inflammation could result from its function of blocking phosphodiesterase enzymes and increasing the activity of specific enzymes, like PKA.

2. Considered by Some to Be an Aphrodisiac

Certain compounds in chocolate, like theobromine and phenylethylamine, have earned it the reputation as a food that is naturally aphrodisiac. However, this is still up for debate, as research results have not been perfect.

If theobromine found in chocolate is indeed aphrodisiac, then it's because of its the aphrodisiac qualities, it's probably because of its capacity to boost your mood, energy levels, and blood flow.

3. May Have Mood-Boosting Effects

Some studies indicate that eating theobromine in chocolate can produce euphoric effects and some mild antidepressant effects. However, the calming effects of chocolate may originate from its distinctive combination of chemicals, including phenylethylamine, in particular.

4. Considered a Nootropic and Might Enhance Focus

Theobromine has been found to affect concentration and focus through the same mechanism as caffeine by blocking adenosine receptors and slowing down the process of phosphodiesterase. In simple terms, it can help reduce the effects of chemicals in the brain that cause you to feel tired and disoriented.

Its mildly stimulating effects are a reason for it becoming a more popular supplement for athletes.

Although anecdotal evidence suggests that it could enhance mental performance, motivation, and focus and decrease fatigue, more research is needed regarding the subject. A study has found evidence that cocoa supplements aided participants' performance in mental tasks and also reduced fatigue. However, it's unclear which other components in cocoa (including Bioflavonoid antioxidants) are worthy of the credit.

5. Has Natural Diuretic Effects

This chemical can be a natural diuretic, increasing the amount of urine produced by the kidneys. This can help decrease the amount of water retained and help treat edema (fluid accumulation).

Does theobromine contribute to weight loss? It's not proven in research studies that are reliable, but it's conceivable considering that it could boost energy levels and decrease swelling and bloating, that is, it could help you control your appetite, boost metabolic health, and lessen cravings caused by fatigue.

Risk, Side Effects, and Interactions

Theobromine, according to research, is not harmful to humans and is typically has fewer undesirable adverse effects than caffeine.

Does theobromine cause you to be awake or cause problems with sleep, such as insomnia? It's not likely to do so if it's consumed by itself, from food sources in contrast to supplements, but it's possible.

Indeed, some even assert that supplementing with it in a form improves sleep and lets them rest more deeply.

The possible side effects that may be experienced when consuming large doses of this molecule are nausea, vomiting, sweating, trembling, headaches, and digestive issues (similar to caffeine-related headaches and caffeine side effects).

Theobromine sensitivity differs from person to. Certain people are more sensitive to stimulants' effects, while others cannot take more than small quantities.

For the vast majority of people, eating cacao nibs, chocolate, or tea in moderation shouldn't trigger any adverse reactions, but supplements can cause a reaction.

If you want to enjoy some sweets with a chocolate flavor, carob chips are an alternative to chocolate. Carob chips do not contain caffeine or theobromine, which is not a stimulant.

Why Is Theobromine in Chocolate Bad for Dogs?

While many people tolerate caffeine and theobromine, however, both are harmful to cats and dogs to eat, particularly when consumed in large quantities or in the case of a small cat.

The way animals metabolize these chemicals is different from humans, and they could suffer poisoning or toxic effects if they eat excessive amounts of chocolate.

If you're not certain what amount of chocolate your pet might have eaten, it's recommended to consult a veterinarian immediately, especially in cases of vomiting or diarrhea, hyperactivity, and shaking.

Supplement and Dosage Info

What uses can theobromine be used for when it is taken as a supplement? Theobromine supplements are utilized as nootropics or to aid in cardiovascular and brain health, in addition to supporting the lungs and even helping improve sleep.

It's typically sold as a fine powder with a bitter flavor when mixed with other components. The powder, also known as a capsule, is a good option as a stand-alone item or in drinks and food.

Dosage recommendations differ based on the individual, the reason the medication is being prescribed and also on the degree of sensitivity effects. Theobromine is believed to be safe when taken in doses between 300 and 600 milligrams a day.

When it is taken over a long period of time or in higher doses of 1,000 and 1,500 milligrams, it is more likely to trigger negative side consequences. A dose as low as 1,000 mg can increase the heart rate and cause worse symptoms such as anxiety.


  • What exactly is theobromine? It's an alkaloid substance that can be that occurs naturally within the cacao plant. The most concentrated sources of food are dark cocoa nibs, chocolate, and tea.
  • Although cocoa and coffee are both made from cocoa beans, coffee has more caffeine, and cocoa has more theobromine.
  • Theobromine's benefits may include diuretic effects, thereby widening the blood vessels and boosting flow, improving mood, increasing focus and concentration, and possibly having an aphrodisiac effect.
  • When taken in large doses, theobromine can disrupt sleep and trigger other negative effects like stomach issues, nervousness, and headaches. However, it's generally well-tolerated than caffeine.
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