Theobromine Review: Uses, Benefits, Effects

Theobromine, a natural extract found in chocolates and tea is known show mild stimulant properties. Not only this, via different mechanism of actions, it helps in controlling blood pressure, act as a cognitive enhancer plus improves your respiratory health. Read more to find out about Theobromine and what if actually holds in for you!

Every one of us loves chocolates! 

Whether it is valentines day or Christmas, the exchange of chocolates is quite a common practice for decades now. 

Now I am sure that you must have heard once in life maybe from someone or while scrolling your newsfeed about how chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is beneficial for health. 

So yes, that is absolutely true.

Organic ingredients that makeup chocolate are known to have a balance of stimulant and relaxant properties alongside having other positive effects on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. 

Okay so if chocolate is really beneficial for human health, then the question is why do parents stop us from eating too much of it? 

Isn’t that contradictory? 

Eating too much of it can lead to adverse effects such as reduced appetite, etc. 

Again the question that may pop up in your mind is why I am talking so much about chocolates? 

This is because we are talking about Theobromine, one of the major components found in chocolates and caffeine.

We will talk about everything ranging from its chemical structure, benefits, and side effects to the optimal dosages that one should take. 

Read through the end to make a decision for yourself whether theobromine is what you need for your enhanced bodily functions! 

What is Theobromine?

Theobromine, previously known as Xantheose is a naturally occurring compound that is extracted from the theobroma cacao tree.

Chemically, it is a xanthine alkaloid with a chemical name (3, 7-Dimethylxanthine) and contains a nitrogen atom, and tastes bitter (1). 

This compound is found in higher quantities in chocolates, particularly dark chocolates. Other sources of theobromine include tea leaves, kola nut, etc. 

Research suggests that it seems to possess mild stimulatory properties and thus, is slightly similar, both biochemically and physiologically to caffeine. Therefore, it is not surprising that Theobromine and Caffeine are categorized as methylxanthines. 

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Mechanism of Action

Because of its effects on the central nervous system, people started considering it as a nootropic. 

This nootropic works largely through the inhibition of phosphodiesterases, blockage of adenosine receptors, and as a vasodilator. (2,3)

Through its inhibition of phosphodiesterase, it leads to increases in intracellular cAMP, protein kinase A (PKA) activation, and inhibition of inflammatory mediators. All of these pathways lead to vasodilation, reduced inflammation, and provide stimulation. 

Adenosine receptors are G-protein-coupled receptors that respond to adenosine, a hormone-like molecule involved in the regulation of the central nervous system (CNS). By blocking these receptors, it acts to decrease the release of certain hormones, such as norepinephrine. 

Norepinephrine is known to increase blood pressure, so this is another way by which this compound leads to a reduction in blood pressure.

Benefits of Theobromine

The most pronounced effects of Theobromine are on cardiovascular, respiratory, and excretory systems in the human body. Because it is a central nervous system stimulant, it also seems to enhance cognition and mood. 

Let’s dig into each of the benefits of Theobromine on the major body systems individually.

Reduces Blood Pressure and Increases HDL levels 

There is a wealth of research that suggests theobromine’s effects on reducing blood pressure. Because theobromine induces vasodilation and promotes diuretic activity, both of these physiological changes can be correlated to reduced blood pressure (4).  

Numerous human studies have linked theobromine with lowered blood pressure. In a study on 84 healthy adults, 250-1,000 mg of Theobromine was found to significantly lower the blood pressure and increase heart rate.

Another study on 24 healthy adult females found that 700 mg led to lower blood pressure one hour after administration.

These findings are supported by an additional study that found that natural cocoa did not change ambulatory or systolic blood pressure when compared to placebo, but cocoa enriched with extra Theobromine lowered central systolic blood pressure (5). 

Not only this, there is evidence that suggests theobromine significantly raises the levels of “HDL” or good cholesterol and reduces the levels of “LDL” or bad cholesterol. 

With all of the available data, it can be said that theobromine optimizes your cardiovascular health and helps you live longer! 

Cognitive Effects

Theobromine has been found to exert calming effects. In a study of 24 healthy adult females, 700 mg led to increased feelings of calmness when compared to placebo 3 hours post-consumption.

Some small studies suggest that post-theobromine intake can significantly improve mental fatigue and induce a state of alertness in individuals. 

As said earlier, theobromine definitely contain some mild stimulant properties which means that it has the capability to increase your concentration and attention span as well as help you in cognitive advancement. 

Respiratory Effects 

Patients diganosed with asthma are often prescribed methylxanthines as they act as bronchodilators and help manage the condition (3). Theobromine helps to open up the bronchioles, which are tubes in the lungs where oxygen exchange occurs. This effect was confirmed in a human study on 21 adults with asthma, which found that capsules of this drug increased bronchial diameter (6). 

Evidence suggests that Theobromine may be able to help suppress coughing through inhibition of afferent nerve activation and reduction of inflammation.

In a study, these effects were examined on guinea pigs and in vitro human vagus nerve preparations. Researchers concluded that this compound helps to prevent citric-acid-provoked coughing in guinea pigs as well as the effects of capsaicin (the compound in chili peppers that provokes coughing) in the in vitro human vagus nerve samples (7).

In a human clinical trial testing the effect of Theobromine on persistent cough, the treatment group experienced improvements in coughing, however, these results did not reach significance. 

Fights Inflammation

Anti-inflammatory properties of Theobromine are quite pronounced and well-researched that a synthetic derivative, Pentoxifylline was prepared to be used to manage inflammatory conditions in children and adults.

Additionally, the benefit of this drug on cough appears to be partly related to fighting inflammation by reducing certain interferons and interleukins.

Weight loss

Some human studies have found a correlation between chocolate consumption and body mass index (BMI): those who eat chocolate more frequently tend to have lower BMIs (8). In a study on obese rats, consumption of cocoa powder was found to lead to improved weight loss when compared to control rats.

If you look at the list of ingredients on herbal weight loss supplements, you will frequently find this Theobromine. It is hypothesized that it plays a part in this beneficial role of cocoa and weight by reducing hunger. 

May Prevent Tooth Decay

While this area needs more dedicated research, some initial findings suggest that theobromine may protect the teeth and make your enamel stronger. 

May Improve Sleep 

Again, this is also one of the areas that needs more research but some anecdotal evidence suggest that it may promote deep restful sleep and help you sleep longer! 

Dosage

Theobromine has a long half-life of approximately ten hours, so you only need to supplement once per day. Dosages vary widely, with a low dose of around 200 – 400 mg/day and a high dose at 1,000 mg/day.

Start low and gradually increase until you find the best dose for you. Some studies have found negative side effects, including irritability, with higher doses.

It is best to take this supplement early in the day since it does act as a mild CNS stimulant.

Sources of Theobromine

Methylxanthines, such as caffeine and Theobromine, are found in tea leaves (including green, black, white, and yerba mate teas), coffee, and chocolate. Different foods will have varying concentrations of each methylxanthine.

Raw cacao powder or nibs are the foods that contain the highest amounts of Theobromine. Its content is much lower in white chocolate than in dark chocolate. If you are looking to increase your consumption of this compound through chocolate, look for dark chocolate of 70% or higher.

Not all cocoa bean products will be high in Theobromine. Cocoa butter and white chocolate only have trace amounts of Theobromine.

Side Effects and Interactions 

Overall this compound is safe and well-tolerated in humans when taken at lower doses. Higher doses have been found to negatively affect mood. When taken at higher doses, this compound may lead to:

  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • Loss of appetite 

If you experience headaches or migraines when taking this drug, you may have a sensitivity or allergy to Theobromine. While this is rare, an allergy or sensitivity can even lead to agitation and panic attacks.

Besides, theobromine may interact with caffeine and other medications/drugs that have an impact on heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate. 

Therefore, you need to be extra careful about what you are stacking with theobromine to avoid unnecessary side effects. 

Toxicity: Theobromine Poisoning in Humans

Theobromine toxicity is common in domestic pets and other mammals, however, the toxicity threshold of this compound is much higher in humans. The reason for this is that it is metabolized much more slowly in some mammals, including dogs, than in humans.

User Experiences and Reviews

Now let’s see what people have to say about Theobromine. 

One anonymous user said, 

“Whenever I eat a lot of cacao nibs,

I feel extremely positive, I am more likely to take action and I feel like I can do anything I set my mind too.”

One of the users said, 

“I can’t believe I’ve slept on thebromine for so long. I decided to add the ND chocamine proprietary blend to my last order just for the heck of it. I just received my order yesterday and I added circa 1 gram to my morning coffee and I can’t even begin to describe how it is making me feel. The clear cut energy it’s giving me is truly amazing, no jitters or anxiety and I feel super motivated. It is hands down the best damn cup of coffee I’ve had in my life. Coffee 2.0!”

So far what i have interpreted, very less people prefer using theobromine alone. They either prefer much potent alternatives or go for a stack! 

Theobromine Stacks 

Theobromine vs L-theanine 

L theanine, an amino acid is primarily found in tea and mushrooms. 

There is substantial evidence that suggests L theanine to similar effects to Theobromine, such as controlling blood pressure, strengthening the immunity, and cognitive enhancement. 

Perhaps L theanine offers the much lesser risk of side effects, thus one can use it without really worrying about it. 

Because Theobromine and L theanine seem to work quite synergistically, stacking both the compounds together means you are going to optimize your overall health in a much effective way. 

Where to Buy Theobromine? 

This supplement is typically sold in powder form, although you can find capsule version of it as well. 

Also when i tried finding the best vendors of the nootropic, what I saw was most vendors either offered a stack or a much similar product to Theobromine. 

Nonetheless, i would recommend you to buy from either Pure Nootropics or Nootropics Depot depending on what you like. 

1-2-Go By Pure Nootropics 

This unique formula is devised by Pure Nootropics and contains Caffeine, L-theanine, and Theobromine. 

The synergistic effects of all the ingredients will give you a wide array of nootropic effects such as enhanced cognition, improved memory, and a focus span. 

Pure Nootropics offer 1-2-Go capsules at a price of $14.99. 
The bottle contains 90 vegetarian capsules constituting 390mg, thus one bottle may last for around 3 months. 

Pure Nootropics provide a certificate of analysis as well, therefore establishing the credibility and originality of the product. 

With multiple payment options, such as Bitcoin, Visa card, and Mastercard, I think Pure Nootropics seem to be a feasible option to make your purchase. 

Pros

  • Enough to last for 3 months 
  • Certificate of Analysis provided 
  • Economical 

Cons

  • Only capsule form 
  • Few customer reviews

Chocoamine Powder by Nootropics Depot  

It is a unique patented extract of Theobroma cacao which means it is quite similar to Theobromine with much better taste. 
Nootropics depot claims that using Chocoamine can help you experience the similar benefits that you may experience with Chocoamine powder just with more potency. 

You can either buy Chocoamine Powder which is available as 125g or 250g at a price range of $32.99 and $54.99 respectively. 

With same day shipping and free standard worldwide mail shipping on orders above $200, Nootropics depot offers alot in very considerable price range. 

Considering so much of positive and satisfied reviews of the customers, I would definitely vouch for Nootropics depot any time of the day.  

Pros

  • Powder form with more potency available 
  • Multiple power variants available 
  • Satisfied customers 

Cons

  • Can’t be delivered to Australia and Ireland 
  • May be out of stock sometimes

Theobromine VS Other Compounds 

Theobromine vs Caffeine

Even though both of these compounds are methylxanthines, they have noticeably different effects on humans.

Caffeine is a water-soluble compound with a much shorter half-life, which degrades quickly in the human body. Theobromine is a more stable, fat-soluble compound.

The main benefits of Theobromine come from its ability to dilate blood vessels, enhancing blood flow to the brain. It is a cardiac stimulator that has even been used to dilate coronary arteries. Caffeine, on the other hand, is a vasoconstrictor. When it comes to their mechanisms of action, caffeine has a stronger affinity for adenosine receptors and acts as a more potent phosphodiesterase inhibitor.

Theobromine is considered to have psychoactive actions different from those of caffeine. While caffeine is a drug that will cause lots of stimulation, these effects are much less pronounced with Theobromine.

One study compared the effects of theobromine, caffeine, theobromine + caffeine, and placebo on 24 healthy female subjects. Researchers found that Theobromine alone led to feelings of calm and lowered blood pressure, caffeine alone led to increased alertness and increased blood pressure, and the two combined led to increased alertness without an effect on blood pressure. This study suggests that these two compounds have different effects on blood pressure and mood.

Is Theobromine Legit? 

The answer to this is Yes, ofcourse! 

Theobromine is a natural extract and is traditionally been used to improve your cardiovascular, respiratory, excretory, neurological and immune functioning. 

While all of these benefits are definitely offered by Theobromine, i may not whole-heartedly recommend Theobromine alone largely because there are much better alternatives available. 

For example, L theanine offers you similar benefits to what Theobromine offers with more potency. Caffeine gives you more stimulatory effects than Theobromine. 

As far as nootropic effects are concerned, you can use other nootropics available in the market which are not only more effective but also more potent! 

Is Theobromine a Stimulant?

Even though it’s less stimulating, it is still classified as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, and has been demonstrated to increase heart rate at high dosages.

What does theobromine do to your body?

It is a vasodilator and aids in urination. 

Is theobromine good for health?

As relatively stable compound, theobromine may play a crucial role in some beneficial effects attributed to caffeine. Theobromine is useful in asthma and in other respiratory tract problems such as cough for which no definitive drug has been developed.

Is theobromine the same as caffeine?

Theobromine is in the same class of stimulants as caffeine, but theobromine is quite different from caffeine because it offers a longer lasting, more relaxed energy without the spike and crash.

Does theobromine affect sleep?

Theobromine, which increases heart rate and causes sleeplessness, is found in small amounts in chocolate, especially dark. The National Sleep Foundation recommends avoiding chocolate — as well as coffee, tea and soft drinks — before bedtime. 

What does theobromine do to the brain?

Theobromine: This stimulant and vasodilator increases blood flow.

How much theobromine is safe for humans?

For humans, theobromine is considered toxic at a dose of 1,000 milligrams of theobromine per kilogram of body weight.

Can you get addicted to theobromine?

Unlike caffeine, theobromine is not a central nervous system stimulant and therefore doesn’t typically make you feel as on edge or jittery. For that same reason, theobromine is non-addictive.

https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Theobromine
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3672386/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4335269/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21839757
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20823377
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4056254/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15548587/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4285439/

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Kartik Kumar Rathi

Kartik is a Doctor in training currently in his second year of medical school with the ultimate goal of becoming a successful cardiologist, he currently contributes to health blogs, research papers and also founded a social health startup to help educate others.

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