Theobromine and Caffeine: A Comparison
Theobromine, also known as xantheose, is a stimulant similar to caffeine that is found in chocolate, tea, the cola nut and other foods. Like caffeine, it is metabolized in the liver. Theobromine and caffeine are two structurally related methylxanthines that energize the body but they have noticably different effects. A comparison between the two follows below.
|Mild effect||Strong effect|
|Very slow onset||Fast-acting|
|50% in bloodstream after 6 to 10 hours||50% in bloodstream after 2 to 5 hours|
|Increases feeling of well being||Increases alertness|
|Mild antidepressant||Increases emotional stress|
|Gentle, smooth, sensual stimulation||Jagged, nervous stimulation|
|Stimulates cardiovascular system||Stimulates cardiovascular system|
|Stimulates muscular system||Stimulates respiratory system|
|Mild effect on central nervous system||Strong effect on central nervous system|
|Almost no one is allergic||Many people are allergic|
|Not addictive||Mildly addictive|
|No withdrawal symptoms||Many documented withdrawal symptoms|
|Mild diuretic||Extreme diuretic|
|Stimulates the the kidneys||Requires large intake of fluids to balance the diuretic effect|
There are a number of serious health problems associated with caffeine — most of which have not been associated with theobromine — including heart trouble, stress and dehydration headaches. In addition, studies have demonstrated a link between caffeine and decreased sperm count (in rats), and cite caffeine as a factor in 2 percent of miscarriages.
Theobromine has been patented as a future cancer preventative. It is employed in modern medicine as a vasodilator, a urination aid and as a heart stimulant. It has been distinguished as one of the compounds contributing to chocolate’s reputation as an aphrodisiac. Nevertheless, it can cause sleeplessness, anxiety and loss of appetite. Because some animals metabolize theobromine very slowly (such as dogs, cats, birds and horses), it can be toxic and even fatal when ingested. However, theobromine poisoning is treatable if caught early.