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Cacao benefits | Cacao health | Cacao nutrition | Ceremonial cacao

Theobromine: Cacao’s Super Stimulant

Over the last decades, science has made remarkable progress in understanding some of the molecular mechanisms behind the proven health benefits of consuming pure, minimally processed Cacao. In our world, that would be Keith's 100% Pure Ceremonial Grade Cacao!

Besides the high content of antioxidants, scientific studies point to methylxanthines as key players in Cacao's beneficial effects. Methylxanthines are a group of naturally occurring alkaloids found in high concentrations in tea, coffee, and Cacao. Caffeine is coffee's main methylxanthine, and theophylline is tea's. For Cacao, it's Theobromine.

The scientific community's main interest lies in Theobromine's beneficial effects on the body and mind that come without the undesirable side effects of caffeine.

Let's look at what we, as consumers of the world's finest Ceremonial Grade Cacao, know experientially about this impressive stimulant and what science confirms.

Theobromine from Theobroma

Theobromine gets its name from Theobroma, the genus of the Cacao tree, with the suffix -ine given to alkaloids and other nitrogen-containing compounds.

That name, in turn, is made up of the Greek roots theo ("god") and broma ("food"), meaning "food of the gods." Though it naturally exists in a few other plants, such as Guayana beans and some tea leaves, Theobromine is most notably found in Cacao beans. 

Theobroma Cacao as Plant Medicine

Theobromine lives up to its divinely-inspired name. It is one of the ingredients that contribute to the classification of Cacao as an adaptogen and an entheogen; in other words, one of the things that make it a plant medicine!

The use of Cacao as a medicinal plant dates back over 3000 years to ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures. As early as the 1500s, scientists would use Cacao to treat fatigue and respiratory and heart problems. Today, Cacao’s most profound healing effects are attributed to Theobromine, which is being studied for neuroprotection, inflammation, cardioprotection, and immunity.

Theobromine vs Caffeine

Watch Leslie Purchase, MD, explain the difference between caffeine and theobromine, and why she ditched coffee for Keith's Cacao as her primary energy source.

Theobromine's chemical makeup is similar to caffeine, but the two stimulants have noticeably different effects. Caffeine is intense, strong, fast-acting, short-lived, and addictive. It hits the body hard and fast with a jolt and then a crash. In contrast,

Theobromine's stimulant effects are milder and longer-lasting, providing more relaxed energy without the spike and crash and no withdrawal symptoms. For, unlike caffeine, Theobromine is not a central nervous system stimulant. It is a cardiovascular stimulant. It, therefore, doesn't typically make you feel as on edge or jittery.

The energy from Theobromine feels more akin to a good night's sleep, giving you a "holistic high" by making you feel more focused. Theobromine has quite long-lasting effects, lifting the mood and energy for an extended period of time. Liver enzymes decrease theobromine levels by only 50% between 6 and 10 hours after consumption. This is one of the reasons it is fast becoming a popular alternative to caffeine. Read more about why you should switch from coffee to Cacao on our blog Cacao: the Healthiest Alternative to Coffee.

Theobromine Benefits

Aside from being a longer-lasting, milder, and more pleasant daily energy source than caffeine, Theobromine benefits the body and mind in many other ways.

Supports Heart Health

Research shows that Theobromine helps reduce blood pressure and balance cholesterol levels, two vital aspects of heart health.

Theobromine acts as a vasodilator, widening your blood vessels and allowing more blood to travel through. This action decreases blood pressure as more blood can move through the vessels without force, and you have improved circulation. This, in itself, results in a whole host of additional benefits.

Theobromine is also associated with increases in HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and decreases in LDL. High HDL is a marker of good heart health, as this type of lipoprotein picks up excess cholesterol in your blood and brings it back to your liver. LDL cholesterol, on the other hand, can contribute to plaque in your arteries and is more susceptible to oxidation.

Improves Energy And Cognitive Health

Theobromine acts similarly to caffeine in the brain, as both block specific receptors meant for the chemical compound adenosine.

Under normal conditions, adenosine docks on its receptors, inducing feelings of sleepiness. Theobromine takes the place of adenosine on these receptors, thus blocking adenosine activity. The result is a boost in energy and improved focus, which allows for the completion of tasks with more interest and greater calmness.

Theobromine has also been studied for its cognitive-enhancing activity. Research shows that theobromine consumption is associated with a reduced level of amyloid plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.

Enhances Immunity

Theobromine has both anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which support the activity of the immune system. As an anti-inflammatory compound, Theobromine helps down-regulate inflammatory chemicals called cytokines in your body. Theobromine helps to calm your overall inflammatory response by reducing cytokine activity. It also reduces cellular oxidative stress.

Improves Cough and Respiratory Symptoms

In addition to overall immune enhancement, Theobromine has explicitly been studied for its impact on respiratory conditions.

Some research suggests that Theobromine helps to suppress cough by inhibiting the activation of afferent nerves, which carry signals from sensory stimuli to your brain. Theobromine's anti-inflammatory activity also seems to play a role in its ability to calm respiratory distress.

In addition, Theobromine may block the activity of a specific enzyme called phosphodiesterase, suppressing airway hyperactivity associated with respiratory diseases.

Theobromine in Keith's Cacao

Through intentional sourcing, minimal processing, and traditional preparation methods, Keith's Cacao retains a consistent Theobromine to caffeine ratio of 42 to 1. In actual numbers, Keith's Cacao contains 4.67% Theobromine and 0.0012% caffeine. It is one of the reasons why Keith's Cacao is the finest Ceremonial Cacao in the world!


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