What is Theobromine?
Theobromine, formerly known as xantheose, is a bitter alkaloid of the cacao plant, with the chemical formula C7H8N4O2. It is found in chocolate, as well as in a number of other foods, including the leaves of the tea plant, and the kola (or cola) nut. It is classified as a xanthine alkaloid, The compounds differ in their degree of methylation.
Despite its name, the compound contains no bromine—theobromine is derived from Theobroma, the name of the genus of the cacao tree, (which itself is made up of the Greek roots theo ("God") and broma ("food"), meaning "food of the gods") with the suffix -ine given to alkaloids and other basic nitrogen-containing compounds.
Theobromine is a slightly water-soluble (330 mg/L), crystalline, bitter powder. Theobromine is white or colourless, but commercial samples can be yellowish. It has a similar, but lesser, effect to caffeine in the human nervous system, making it a lesser homologue. Theobromine is an isomer of theophylline, as well as paraxanthine. Theobromine is categorized as a dimethyl xanthine.
Theobromine was first discovered in 1841 in cacao beans by Russian chemist Alexander Voskresensky. Synthesis of theobromine from xanthine was first reported in 1882 by Hermann Emil Fischer.