Theobromine belongs to a class of alkaloid molecules called as methylxanthines. Occurs naturally in cocoa, cola nuts and tea. The cocoa bean is nature’s most concentrated source of theobromine. In 1841, theobromine was first discovered in cacao beans by a Russian chemist by the name of Alexander Woskresensky, and it was synthesized from xanthine afterwards.
Like many alkaloid, theobromine has a range of effects on the body. Theobromine, acts as a diuretic, vasodilator, cardiac stimulant, and smooth muscle relaxant. Has a ten fold lower stimulating property to humans than caffeine does.
The alkaloids caffeine and theobromine are responsible for the stimulant effect of cacao and chocolate. Chocolate contains 0.5-2.7% theobromine. Theobromine levels are maximal in dark chocolates. Milk chocolates contains about 2gr to 5 gr theobromine per kg. 1 oz. of white chocolate contains almost 1 mg.
Cough is a common and protective reflex, however persistent coughing is debilitating and impaired quality of life. A 2004 study reported by “Imperial College London” concluded that theobromine has an cough-reducing property superior to codeine by suppressing vagus nerve activity. Theobromine was found to work directly on the vagus nerve, which is responsible for triggering coughing. A British drugs company called SEEK is helping develop a medication based on a medication called theobromine, that it says “has been shown to inhibit the inappropriate firing of the vagus nerve, which is a key feature of persistent cough.
All methylxanthines have been shown to relax the smooth muscle of the bronchi in the lungs. Theobromine and theophylline are termed as methylxanthines and are used in the management of asthma bronchiale. Methylxanthines produce a relaxation of the bronchial smooth muscle and so are helping to open up constricted airways.