Theobromine Review: Is It the Right Alternative to Caffeine?
Who doesn’t like chocolate? Well, most people do, and even those who don’t are well acquainted with chocolate’s many health benefits. It does, after all, offer some prominent heart health benefits, has a thermogenic effect, and acts as a mild stimulant. Chocolate has also been attributed to improving cognitive function and improving mood. Now, what does chocolate has to do with Theobromine? Check out my full Theobromine review.
Without isolating theobromine, chocolate by itself has a fascinating history.
If you go back in time far enough, you’ll see that it was initially thought of as a medicine. The Aztecs used it as a religious energy drink, while medics of the past believed that it helped with digestion, jaundice, coughs, and for calming the overstimulated.
In any case, it was believed to be good for something or the other and the fact that it tasted great, made it famous anyways.
While ancient civilizations used cacao for making bitter chocolate drinks, its modern-day use has evolved into the much-favored chocolate bars.
But these benefits of chocolate and Theobromine by extension apply only to chocolate’s super dark form.
Also, you can hope to reap these benefits only if you do not overeat it and enjoy it in moderation.
Now, Theobromine, in particular, is a bitter alkaloid compound found in chocolate.
It affects somewhat similar to caffeine being slightly stimulant.
Theobromine can also be found in other plant foods, but its primary source is the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree, also known simply as cocoa beans.
Most of the benefits of using Theobromine are associated with improved blood flow around the body.
It acts as a vasodilator as well as an aid for urination and as a heart stimulant.
1. Theobromine Lowers Blood Pressure
Being a vasodilator, theobromine is considered helpful for regulating blood pressure. As it helps dilate blood vessels, it improves the flow of blood in the area, thus reducing tension in the vessels.
At the same time, it also has diuretic properties boosting urine production. This activity helps lower blood volume.
One study investigated these effects by supplementing 979 mg of theobromine daily on 42 individuals with hypertension. Continuing with this dosage for three consecutive weeks, results revealed a significant reduction in blood pressure readings two hours following theobromine ingestion.
Participants in the control group of the same study did not present this improvement. 
Likewise, a similar study compared the effects of theobromine and caffeine. Working with 24 otherwise healthy female participants, the study looked at the effects of supplementing with 700 milligrams of theobromine as opposed to 700 milligrams theobromine taken along with 120 milligrams caffeine.
Findings showed that when ingested on its own, theobromine reduced blood pressure an hour after consumption.
However, when taken alongside caffeine, the same blood pressure readings stayed consistent. 
2. Theobromine Nootropic Makes Tooth Enamel Stronger
This can seem counterintuitive as eating chocolate won’t offer this benefit. But using theobromine as a topical solution seems to help by increasing enamel hardness.
Some studies have shown that doing so can improve the surface hardness of human tooth enamel.  
This protective mechanism can also help protect against tooth decay, which can otherwise cause cavities.
There is also some indication that theobromine may well be more capable of fighting cavities than fluoride.
3. Theobromine Yields Mild Stimulant Effects
When administered dose-dependently, theobromine supplement can raise heart rate while presenting stimulant effects on the body.
Some studies indicate that after ingestion, the alkaloid enhances concentration, focus, and visually processing information. 
4. Theobromine And Heart Health Benefits
New research regarding the heart health benefits of theobromine indicates that this compound may boost HDL levels independently.
One study tested the effects of theobromine on 152 healthy participants with participants consuming cocoa alongside 150 milligrams theobromine.
A second group was given 850 milligrams of pure theobromine, while a third group received 1000 milligrams of theobromine alongside cocoa.
The final group in the study was given a placebo.
The three groups other than the placebo group showed an increase in HDL levels suggesting that theobromine may be responsible for this increase. 
5. Theobromine Offers Mental Health Benefits
Given the vasodilatory effects of theobromine, it helps improve blood flow to the brain. This mechanism is an essential marker for cognition.
Some studies show that regular caffeine usage may restrict blood flow to the brain and reduce grey matter. However, certain nootropic compounds work by improving blood flow and oxygenation to the brain.
In this regard, theobromine can help by countering the vaso-restrictive properties of caffeine.
As a nootropic, many people use theobromine as a milder alternative to caffeine.
Those who have used it claim to experience mental energy without the jitters associated with caffeine.
6. Theobromine Boosts Respiratory Health
Some evidence suggests that theobromine may broaden airways in the body and relax the body’s smooth muscle tissues, including tissue in the lungs.
Such activity can help increase air passage to the lungs, which may explain why this compound is, and was, considered an efficient cough suppressant.
One study out of Europe administered a chocolate-based medicine called ROCOCO to patients with a cough. Participants of the study were randomly assigned either ROCOCO or regular codeine. Those using the chocolate-based ROCOCO reported a significant improvement in symptoms within two days.
Researchers believe that cocoa has demulcent properties which can help relieve irritation and inflammation. 
Using the chocolate-based medication showed that it was stickier and more viscous than standard cough medicine, which protected nerve endings in the throat that trigger the urge to cough.
As theobromine opens up pathways for air to enter the lungs, it not only impacts coughing but also reduces the incidence of asthmatic episodes. 
7. Theobromine And Detoxification
The anti-inflammatory features in theobromine are due to its antioxidant activity, which helps in limiting oxidative stress down to the cellular level.
By widening the blood vessels, theobromine promotes blood flow, which reduces excess fluid collecting in the body.
It gets removed from the body as urine, allowing the blood to filter out and remove toxins.
Theobromine vs Caffeine
While both are stimulants, theobromine is milder than coffee and yields a less intense stimulant effect. Yet, its effects are longer lasting than those of coffee.
In fact, theobromine is known to have a half-life of 7.2 hours.  This goes to say that theobromine stays in the body for approximately that much time before its blood concentration reduces by half.
However, this half-time can vary significantly from one individual to the next. The time may range anywhere from six to ten hours, depending on the individual.
And while theobromine can increase heart rate and improve focus, it seems to do so without the equivalent happy mood-enhancing effects that caffeine brings about. 
While the two compounds do present similar results, the critical difference lies in caffeine having a more pronounced effect on the central nervous system and theobromine working on affecting smooth muscle.
This gives theobromine its cardiac stimulating properties.
Experiments have shown that caffeine acts on the nervous system are stronger than that of theobromine.
How much theobromine is there in chocolate?
The amount of this alkaloid in chocolate is dependent on the chocolate type being used. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it will have.
Milk chocolate comes with 2,4 mg of theobromine per gram, dark chocolate contains about 5,5 mg per gram, and baker’s chocolate, which is much darker than regular chocolate bars, boasts a whopping 16 mg per gram.
Research indicates that the most benefits from theobromine supplement occur when this compound is taken between the doses of 500 and 1000 mg.
This dosage seems to present the most benefits with little or no side effects.
In terms of chocolate, this would roughly amount to 50 grams or slightly more of dark chocolate.
However, you may need to consider the sugar content in chocolate, especially if you opt for non-dark variations of chocolate.
Pure theobromine is available as a fine, bitter powder which may be taken individually or mixed within food or drinks. Some people choose to use the powdered form on top of their toothpaste to utilize its fluoride-like effects.
In supplemental form, this compound is available in capsules with strengths ranging between 350 and 500 mg.
But one of the best ways to ingest theobromine remains in the form of chocolate. If you go for a darker kind of chocolate, you get not only theobromine but also many of the cocoa flavonoids that come in chocolate.
However, the body doesn’t physiologically require theobromine and poses no risk of any deficiency.
At best, it serves as an added perk to enjoy dark chocolate or cocoa occasionally.
Theobromine Side Effects
Human consumption of theobromine isn’t toxic unless consumed in extreme amounts. If there is a daily intake of up to 1500 mg, which is a lot of chocolate, some symptoms may appear.
Large doses of theobromine have been known to cause side effects such as nausea and headaches. Some people may also experience sweating and headaches together.
As a stimulant, an overdose of theobromine may cause tachycardia or rapid heartbeat while at rest.
Theobromine interacts with caffeine resulting in an increased heart rate and alertness.
It can also have the effect of widening blood vessels more than usual, or when either substance is taken on its own.
To understand what others experience when supplementing theobromine, I have decided to find some reviews and feedback from actual users.
Well, you might get surprised:
“Exactly what I was looking for. It provides a nice natural boost without all the negative effects of caffeine.”
“My gums seem to be healthier since I started mixing it with my toothpaste every day (I bought it because I read a study about how theobromine in toothpaste helps teeth remineralize). Very bitter, though, and it’s a fluffy powder so it’s easy to put too much on your toothbrush, I use a small spoon to make sure I don’t use more than I need.”
“I bought this product for its stimulant and brain boosting benefits, but soon realized it offered so much more. After researching it, and after suffering with sensitive teeth over the years, I decided to add it to my toothpaste. WOW!! I have tried every toothsome for sensitive tooth pain, and nothing has been as effective as this. Immediate relief! This product serves so many purposes and I will definitely order again.”
Where To Buy Theobromine?
The best way to consume theobromine is most likely by eating chocolate (and it’s the sweetest way as well).
Greg Gostincar is the founder of Your Inception. He has been researching, testing and experimenting with nootropics since 2015. Greg is one of the most recognized researchers in the field of nootropics.