Theobromine

COMMON NAME

Theobromine

TOP BENEFITS OF THEOBROMINE

  • Supports brain function and cognitive performance *
  • Supports neuroprotection *

WHAT IS THEOBROMINE?

Theobromine is a bitter compound found in high amounts in cocoa beans (and hence chocolate) and in much lower amounts in tea, yerba mate, guarana and guayusa. Its name comes from the botanical name for the cocoa bean, Theobroma cacao. The amount of theobromine in cocoa powders can vary about 5-fold, from between 2 to 10%. Darker chocolate generally has more theobromine than milk chocolate. Theobromine belongs to a class of alkaloid molecules called methylxanthines, which also includes caffeine. Like caffeine, it supports alertness processes in the brain by influencing the adenosine neurotransmitter system. Theobromine has somewhat similar effects to caffeine in supporting the sensation of being alert or having energy, but with slower onset and longer duration of activity [1–4]. It can be thought of as being a weaker cousin to caffeine, influencing similar brain processes but not quite as strongly. 

NEUROHACKER’S THEOBROMINE SOURCING

Theobromine is non-GMO and vegan.

THEOBROMINE DOSING PRINCIPLES AND RATIONALE

A 2 ounce serving of milk chocolate contains approximately 120 mg of theobromine, while the same amount of dark chocolate contains about 400 mg. Similar to caffeine, theobromine is not a “more is better” ingredient when it comes to being a nootropic. As an example, in a study that compared theobromine doses of 250, 500, and 1000 mg, the lowest dose produced the best subjective experience [5]. This indicates that there’s a high likelihood theobromine may follow hormetic dosing principles (see Neurohacker Dosing Principles), i.e., have a dosing range below and above which results could be poorer. Furthermore, because Neurohacker Collective believes theobromine may have additive effects with other ingredients, especially caffeine, we have selected to dose theobromine at an amount that occurs with dietary intake of chocolate. 

THEOBROMINE KEY MECHANISMS

Brain and cognitive function

  • Supports memory and learning [6–8]
  • Supports cognitive health [7]
  • Influences adenosine receptor activity [2,3,9]
  • Supports dopamine levels [10]
  • Supports noradrenaline levels [10]
  • Supports brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) [6,8]
  • Supports antioxidant defenses [10]

Cellular function

  • Influences phosphodiesterase (PDE) activity and intracellular cAMP levels [6,9]
  • Influences mTOR signaling [11] 

Synergies 

  • Caffeine in supporting energetic arousal, reaction time and information processing [12]

REFERENCES 

[1]B. Gottwalt, P. Tadi, in: StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, Treasure Island (FL), 2020.

[2]H.J. Smit, Handb. Exp. Pharmacol. (2011) 201–234.

[3]R. Franco, A. Oñatibia-Astibia, E. Martínez-Pinilla, Nutrients 5 (2013) 4159–4173.

[4]E. Martínez-Pinilla, A. Oñatibia-Astibia, R. Franco, Front. Pharmacol. 6 (2015) 30.

[5]M.J. Baggott, E. Childs, A.B. Hart, E. de Bruin, A.A. Palmer, J.E. Wilkinson, H. de Wit, Psychopharmacology 228 (2013) 109–118.

[6]M. Yoneda, N. Sugimoto, M. Katakura, K. Matsuzaki, H. Tanigami, A. Yachie, T. Ohno-Shosaku, O. Shido, J. Nutr. Biochem. 39 (2017) 110–116.

[7]J. Mendiola-Precoma, K. Padilla, A. Rodríguez-Cruz, L.C. Berumen, R. Miledi, G. García-Alcocer, J. Alzheimers. Dis. 55 (2017) 1273–1283.

[8]R. Islam, K. Matsuzaki, E. Sumiyoshi, M.E. Hossain, M. Hashimoto, M. Katakura, N. Sugimoto, O. Shido, Nutrients 11 (2019).

[9]I. Cova, V. Leta, C. Mariani, L. Pantoni, S. Pomati, Psychopharmacology 236 (2019) 561–572.

[10]L. Fernández-Fernández, G. Esteban, M. Giralt, T. Valente, I. Bolea, M. Solé, P. Sun, S. Benítez, J.R. Morelló, J. Reguant, B. Ramírez, J. Hidalgo, M. Unzeta, Food Funct. 6 (2015) 1251–1260.

[11]N. Sugimoto, M. Katakura, K. Matsuzaki, E. Sumiyoshi, A. Yachie, O. Shido, Basic Clin. Pharmacol. Toxicol. 124 (2019) 575–581.

[12]H.J. Smit, E.A. Gaffan, P.J. Rogers, Psychopharmacology 176 (2004) 412–419.