Clayton's Health Facts: Theobromine.

Clayton South, SPN (ISSA), is a recognized expert in the bodybuilding / fitness industry with over 150 bodybuilding, fitness and nutrition publications to his credit.

What is it and where does it come from?

Theobromine (C7H8N4O2, or 3,7-dimethylxanthine, or 3,7-Dihydro-3,7-dimethyl-1H-purine-2,6-dione) is a methylxanthine and is a chemical relative of caffeine.

Unlike caffeine, theobromine has three methyl groups instead of two, and the presence of an additional methyl group slows the clearance of theobromine from the body. Thus, theobromine is a longer acting substance than caffeine.

Theobromine is a naturally occurring substance in over sixty species of plant, and is most concentrated in the cocoa bean. Theobromine has a bitter taste, and is the main ingredient in chocolate. In supplemental form theobromine is a white powder.

Theorbromine is also known as Riddospas, Riddovydrin, Santheose, Seominal, Theobrominum, Theoguardenal, and Theominal.

What does it do and what scientific studies give evidence to support this?

Although theobromine is related to caffeine and exerts similar effects, theobromine does not affect the body through central nervous system stimulation. Instead, it induces muscular relaxation of the smooth muscle tissue.

As mentioned, theobromine has three methyl groups instead of two. Theobromine does not stimulate the central nervous system like caffeine, so its effects are less pronounced. However, the presence of an additional methyl group increases its half-life and slows system clearance - thus making its effects longer lasting.

Theobromine is the "feel good" ingredient in chocolate. It is commonly believed that chocolate contains caffeine, but the active ingredient is theobromine. The relaxed feelings that one experiences after chocolate consumption is attributed to theobromine, while the extra energy is due to the simple carbohydrates present in chocolate. The feelings of energy and relaxation are produced from different substances.

Theobromine affects the kidneys because, like caffeine, it is a diuretic. It helps to shed extra cellular water and in this way affects the kidneys and renal system. Clinical research has not found any evidence of renal or kidney damage when theobromine is used sparingly and within reason.

Theobromine is commonly used to treat hypertension because of its ability to relax smooth muscle tissue and dilate blood vessels. High blood pressure can adversely affect cardiac function, and the relaxation of smooth muscle tissue and vasodilatation can help reduce the hearts work-load.

Who needs it and what are some symptoms of deficiency?

Theobromine is a common ingredient in over-the-counter energy enhancing nutritional supplements and over-the-counter weight-loss products.

People looking for more energy can benefit from theobromine supplementation, as can people looking to lose weight and improve overall health.

There is no bodily requirement for theobromine and thus no deficiencies exist.

How much should be taken? Are there any side effects?

Strictly adhere to label recommendations.

No side effects were noted in literature when theobromine was taken in reasonable amounts by persons free of medical complication.

Because of a long half-life, theobromine is toxic in small doses for dogs and cats. Large doses are required for toxicity in humans.

Consultation with a physician is recommended prior to supplementation.