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Theobromine: How Chocolate Complements Cannabis

From brownie edibles to infused candy bars, chocolate, and cannabis are a winning combo. That said, there’s more to the pair’s special bond than just taste. Chocolate contains various compounds that can improve our health and complement the effects of cannabis.

One of these famous naturally occurring chemicals in the cacao bean is called theobromine. Theobromine is a bitter-tasting alkaloid naturally found in certain plants. This component is used in some cannabis products to enhance the medicinal effects and psychoactive experiences produced by cannabis. Let’s dive into theobromine’s history and its benefits.

The History of Theobromine

Theobromine was first identified in the 1840s in cocoa beans. The alkaloid can also be found in coffee beans, carob, guarana, kola nuts, and yerba mate. The cacao plant (Theobroma cacao), however, is by far the most abundant source of the chemical compound. Chocolate contains 0.5–2.7% theobromine, with darker chocolate containing greater concentrations of the molecule and producing stronger effects.

Interestingly, there is no bromine (Br) present in the theobromine molecule, which is C7H8N4O – just carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen. In fact, the letters spelling the “bromine” part of the name are there by coincidence.

Biologists who initially encountered cacao trees used the name “Theobroma” for this new genus of plants they observed in Central and South America. “Theobroma” is a Greek term that roughly translates to “food of the gods.” The name appears to be inspired by positive experiences with the derivatives of these plants.

Theobromine V.S. Caffeine

Theobromine is a mild stimulant similar to caffeine. It interacts with other neurotransmitters in the brain to improve mood and increase alertness.

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Despite producing similar effects, there are several differences between the two substances. The biggest is that theobromine has about one-tenth of caffeine’s potency. Further, theobromine’s effects are longer-lasting without making you jittery or inducing a crash after its effects wear off.

All that said, the thing that really put theobromine in a league of its own — well over caffeine — is its anti-inflammatory and dilatory effects. By widening blood vessels, theobromine can help manage blood pressure, increase oxygen supply, enhance blood flow, and improve circulation. These properties make theobromine effective at treating respiratory ailments like asthma. The alkaloid is so effective at treating these issues, in fact, that South Korea approved theobromine as a treatment for persistent coughs.

Theobromine & Cannabis: A Perfect Match

With its unique mood-lifting and cognitive-improving qualities, theobromine serves as a perfect complement to CBD and THC. The most obvious reason is that theobromine’s energizing properties fight off unwanted sleepiness brought upon by cannabinoids. However, a deeper look shows how theobromine and CBD — specifically — can bolster each other’s effects to create a powerful medical tool.

Certain cannabinoids like CBD are packed with anti-inflammatory properties. Recent animal studies have even shown that CBD can significantly reduce inflammation in the lungs — not to mention its immunosuppressant properties that further contribute to the reduction of asthma symptoms.

As mentioned above, theobromine, with its muscle-calming and vasodilating properties, has also demonstrated benefits for the cardiovascular system. Combining the two substances by eating something like a chocolate edible, or even just eating a chocolate after taking your CBD dosage can give you double the benefits. For individuals dealing with asthma or consistent coughing — this combo can result in increased relief.


Recent studies have demonstrated the potential positive effects of theobromine and cannabinoids on mood, breathing, and heart health. That said, further investigation is needed to understand the extent of these benefits and how we can most effectively achieve them.

Given its interesting profile of health-promoting properties, chocolate appears to have much more to offer us than just tasty desserts. Depending on what benefits you are seeking from cannabis products, it may be helpful to select a chocolate-based edible for the added support of theobromine to enhance the effects of cannabis consumption.

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