Does Cocoa Butter Contain Theobromine? Everything You Need to Know!

Theobromine, also known as xanthosis, is present in cocoa butter, although in small quantities. This alkaloid derives its name from the cocoa plant, Theobroma cacao. This compound is found in chocolate, and although it tastes bitter, it dilates blood vessels, increasing blood flow. It also releases feel-good chemicals in the brain.

Apart from chocolate, theobromine can be found in a number of other foods, including the leaves of the tea plant and the kola nut.

Cocoa butter and theobromine

Cocoa butter is a fat made from whole cocoa beans. Cocoa butter makes up 54–58% of cocoa nibs. At temperatures above the melting point of cocoa butter, cocoa liquor (or chocolate liquor) is formed by grinding cocoa nibs into a liquid. In order to separate cocoa butter from non-fat cocoa solids, chocolate liquor is pressed.

Some manufacturers add fragrance to reduce the overwhelming smell of unrefined cocoa butter.

There is a high proportion of saturated fats in cocoa butter, as well as monounsaturated oleic acid.

Almost all types of chocolate contain cocoa butter, including white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate.

Nevertheless, cocoa butter contains small amounts of theobromine. There are 26000 mg/kg of theobromine in cocoa powder, which has the highest concentration. The amount of cocoa butter in a kilogram is only 140 mg.

Looking at the toxicity dosages mentioned above, it would take a very high amount of cocoa butter to be toxic to a dog. It would take about 2 kg, or 4 pounds, to be fatal to a small dog. It’s extremely unlikely your dog would consume anywhere near a toxic dose of cocoa butter.

Also Read: What is Cocoa Butter: Benefits, Uses, Characteristics and Side Effects

What is Theobromine?

Theobromine was first discovered in 1841 in cacao beans by the Russian chemist Aleksandr Voskresensky.

It is the chemical that’s responsible for our love of chocolate. In humans, theobromine is a stimulant. It dilates blood vessels, which increases blood flow. It also releases feel-good chemicals in the brain.

However, theobromine can be toxic to animals. But, there’s no cause for alarm as cocoa butter isn’t the same as chocolate. It’s the cocoa powder in chocolate that you have to worry about. The mean theobromine concentrations in cocoa and carob products are:

ItemMean theobromine per 100 g
Cocoa powder2060 mg
Cocoa beverages266 mg
Chocolate toppings195 mg
Chocolate bakery products147 mg
Cocoa cereals69.5 mg
Chocolate ice creams62.1 mg
Chocolate milk22.6 mg
Carob products0.00–50.4 mg

Theobromine and dogs

In sufficient amounts, the theobromine found in chocolate is toxic to animals such as cats, dogs, horses, parrots, and small rodents because they are unable to digest the chemical effectively. Instead of giving them a feel-good feeling as the effect of eating chocolate, it can make them very sick.

Dogs can give way to theobromine poisoning from as little as 50 grams of milk chocolate for a smaller dog and 400 grams of small milk chocolate bars, for an average-sized dog. 

The concentration of theobromine in dark chocolates -approximately 10 g/kg is up to 10 times that of milk chocolate—meaning dark chocolate is far more toxic to dogs per unit weight or volume than milk chocolate.

Complications of theobromine poisoning in dogs include digestive issues, dehydration, anxiety, and a slow heart rate. Later stages of theobromine poisoning include seizures and death. Theobromine poisoning is treatable in the early stages. Although not common, the effects of theobromine poisoning can be fatal.

Theobromine and Humans

The amount of theobromine found in chocolate is small enough that chocolate can, in general, is safely consumed by humans. However, chocolate may not be a factor for heartburn in some people because theobromine may affect the oesophageal sphincter muscle in a way that permits stomach acids to enter the oesophagus.

Effects of theobromine

The health effects of chocolate are the possible positive and negative effects on health. Although considerable research has been conducted to evaluate the potential health benefits of consuming chocolate, there are insufficient clinical research studies to confirm any effect, and no medical or regulatory authority has approved any health claim.

Below is the type of chocolate and its theobromine concentration.

Type of chocolateTotal phenolics (mg/100g)Flavonoids (mg/100g)Theobromine (mg/100g)
Raw chocolate3300
Dark chocolate57928883
Baking chocolate1300
Milk chocolate16013125
White chocolate12680


Overall, evidence is insufficient to determine the relationship between chocolate consumption and acne. Various studies point not to chocolate, but to the high glycemic nature of certain foods, like sugar, corn syrup, and other simple carbohydrates, as potential causes of acne, along with other possible dietary factors.

Also Read: Does Cocoa Butter Cause Acne?


By some widespread fables, chocolate is considered to be a mood enhancer and stimulating cognition, but there is little scientific evidence that such effects are consistent among all chocolate consumers. 

If mood improvement from eating chocolate occurs, there is not enough research to indicate whether it results from the favourable flavour or from the stimulant effects of its constituents, such as caffeine or theobromine. A 2019 review reported that while chocolate consumption does not improve depressive mood.

Heart and blood vessels

Reviews support a short-term effect of lowering blood pressure by consuming cocoa products, but there is no evidence of long-term cardiovascular health benefits. While daily consumption of cocoa flavanols- a minimum dose of 200 mg, appears to benefit platelet and vascular function, there is no good evidence to support an effect on heart attacks or strokes.

What is cocoa butter made of?

Cocoa butter is made of notable nutrients and ingredients that are excellent for health, hair, and skincare.

For every 100g of cocoa butter, 60g of saturated fat are present. As reported by Nutrition Advance,  cocoa butter contains four major fatty acids; mainly saturated and monounsaturated fats, and other nutrients.

1. Stearic Acid

A methodical review indicates that stearic acid lowers Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and has a neutral effect on High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL), according to  the National Library of Medicine.

2. Oleic Acid

Cocoa butter has a composition of 32.6% monounsaturated fatty acid. Oleic acid is the most widely distributed fatty acid in nature, and it is the predominant fat in olive oil.

Research indicates oleic acid has a protective effect against cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance, is an important ingredient for immune health, and may have anti-inflammatory activity.

3. Palmitic Acid

Palmitic acid has a composition of 25.4 saturated fatty acids in cocoa butter, which also occurs in most animal and plant-based foods. Although palmitic acid may cause problems alongside an excessive intake of dietary carbohydrates, there isn’t enough evidence to prove any negative effect on health.

4. Linoleic Acid

Linoleic acid is a major fat from the omega-6 family of essential fatty acids. Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated fat with a composition of 2.8%. This fatty acid is present in most foods in varying proportions, but it’s highly concentrated in nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils.

Linoleic acid plays an important role in its pro-inflammatory properties. Linoleic acid in cocoa butter is responsible for proper wound healing.

Despite being a healthy saturated fatty acid, overusing linoleic acid can affect your health due to the overproduction of inflammatory compounds and can contribute to chronic disease risk.

Effects of cocoa butter on humans

1. Vitamin K is found in cocoa butter

Vitamin K, like stearic acid, regenerates hair strands and promotes stronger, thicker regrowth after hair loss. It also boosts the body’s immune system by providing the ability to clot blood. Thus, healing wounds and reducing swelling and skin scars.

2. Cocoa butter contains linoleic acid

Also known as omega 6, or vitamin F, linoleic acid moisturizes and promotes hair growth, soothes acne, heals skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis, premature ageing, and promotes moisture retention of hair and skin. Among others, it is an effective emulsifier in the formation of soaps.

3. It contains stearic acid

In cocoa butter, it is known for purging dirt, sweat, and excess sebum from the skin and hair. Serving as cooking oil, stearic acid in cocoa butter serves as an emulsifying agent that binds water and oil while helping products stay steady when stored for a long time.

By providing a compact brittle, stearic acid protects the butter from melting too. It likewise conditions hair from damage and softens skin.

4. Cocoa butter has a decent palmitic acid 

The presence of palmitic acid, also known as saturated fatty acid, in cocoa butter acts as an emollient that helps to soften the skin, protecting the skin from being dry by forming oily moisture.

5. Serves as an anti-inflammatory moisturizer

Cocoa butter is a moisturizer that offers relief to skin plagued with burns, dryness, and irritation. It is believed to enhance the body’s immunity by promoting relaxation, and it is gentle enough to be used for massage and infection treatment without causing further sensitivities.

Moreover, cocoa butter is used on sensitive skin to reduce, prevent and manage the appearance of scars and unwanted marks such as stretch marks. In particular, in Africa, it is believed to serve as a protective mask against the hot sun.

 Uses of cocoa butter

1. Cocoa butter reduces ageing wrinkles

Cocoa butter has high levels of antioxidants that neutralize free radicals formed as a result of cell metabolism. The high presence of radicals on the skin is the reason why you have damaged skin cells and more wrinkles. As such, cocoa butter, which contains cocoa mass polyphenol (CMP), according to research, may help protect your skin from premature damage and ageing. It may help promote the overall health of your skin.

Also Read: Cocoa Butter for Face Wrinkles: Does it Help?

2. Reduces dry skin problems

People with dry skin problems can use raw cocoa butter because of its ease of absorption into the skin and its firm texture, significantly improving the appearance of the skin.

3. It contains saturated fats

Cocoa butter consists primarily of saturated fats, including oleic acid, palmitic acid, and stearic acid, which act as an emollient. When applied to the skin by lotions, creams, or bath oils, emollients can soften the skin and help it improve its texture.

4. Fade dark spots and skin

Daily use of cocoa butter will help moisturize, smooth, and soften rough and dark elbows, knees, hands, and feet, especially for black or Africans.  Regular use will also help to fade the darker skin in these areas, giving elbows and knees a more even skin tone.

Also Read: Does Cocoa Butter help with Dark Spots?

The risks and warnings of using cocoa butter

In cosmetic products are purposely for external uses. Raw cocoa butter is used for cooking purposes. It is also combined with other ingredients to produce chocolates.

However, pure cocoa butter does not contain any harmful ingredients that may cause harm when eaten. Therefore, people should not eat or inject cocoa butter-based products for any reason because it is harmful to their health.

Although there are no health risks to eating raw cocoa butter, there are, however, health benefits to eating chocolate; it provides a powerful source of antioxidants, improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure.

Also Read: What is Cocoa Butter: Benefits, Uses, Characteristics and Side Effects

What to look for when buying cocoa butter

The Ingredients

Cocoa butter, in its pure form, could be a little sticky or greasy due to its solid texture. Additional ingredients make it a little easier to absorb and non-greasy. Look for additional ingredients that add to the moisture rather than dry it out. Shea butter, aloe vera, and vitamin E are great to give an additional moisture boost.

Using cocoa butter lotions, either in pure or organic forms, has long-term benefits for the skin. A well-moisturized body will be helpful to keep away signs of ageing, wrinkles, and fine lines at bay.

The Formula

Go for a lightweight and quick-absorbing lotion to keep your skin hydrated minus the greasy feeling. However, if you have extremely dry skin, you may consider buying a lotion that has a thick formula to keep your skin moisturized.

The Fragrance

Opt for a cocoa butter body lotion that has a pleasant, mild fragrance. Cocoa butter products with strong fragrances, especially chocolate, can cause irritation in people with sensitive noses. If you love the chocolate smell on your body, however, you may love the fragrance, whether mild or strong.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is cocoa butter harmful to dogs?

Cocoa butter is the fat extracted from the cocoa plant, and although it is found in a variety of sweet treats, it’s not “chocolate.” The extract contains minimal to no levels of the toxic-to-dog chemical theobromine, meaning it is safe to use, specifically in balms and other topical treatments.

How much cacao butter is theobromine?

Theobromine ranges from 26000 mg/kg in cocoa to 140 mg/kg in cocoa butter; (+)-catechin from 1800 mg/kg in cocoa to below detection limits of  32 mg/kg in cocoa butter; caffeine from 2400 mg/kg in cocoa to 400 mg/kg in cocoa butter; and (-)-epicatechin from 3200 mg/kg in cocoa to BDL, 27 mg/kg in cocoa butter.

Does cocoa butter have caffeine or theobromine?

Caffeine is found in cocoa solids but not in cocoa butter.

Is Palmer’s cocoa butter OK for dogs?

With the classic Palmer’s Cocoa Butter formula and the addition of skin-soothing Vitamin E, you can’t go wrong with Palmer’s skin care for pets.

What does theobromine do to the brain?

This stimulant and vasodilator increase blood flow. Phenylethylamine: This compound stimulates the brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and motivation.

What are the side effects of theobromine?

Possible side effects that occur when someone consumes high doses of this molecule include nausea, loss of appetite, sweating, trembling, digestive issues, and headaches (similar to caffeine side effects and caffeine headaches). Theobromine sensitivity varies from person to person.

What does theobromine do to dogs?

Agitation, hyperactivity, and gastrointestinal upset have been noted when a dog ingests 20 mg per kilogram of body weight. Gastrointestinal upset can include drooling, vomiting, and diarrhoea that will smell like chocolate. Theobromine toxicity has been fatal when your dog ingests 200 mg per kilogram of body weight.

Now it’s your turn.

The presence of theobromine in cocoa butter makes it less toxic to humans and animals. So you can rest assured that cocoa butter is safe for use. Theobromine ranges from 26000 mg/kg in cocoa to 140 mg/kg in cocoa butter.

The higher theobromine, the higher its effects. This means 140 mg/kg of theobromine in cocoa butter is safe for use in beauty products and the manufacture of other products. 

Theobromine is, however, higher in dark chocolate, although it is still less toxic for human consumption. You should, however, avoid feeding your animals, especially dogs, chocolate. And keep your cocoa butter lotions away from dogs. For a paw moisturiser for dogs, Palmers has a special cocoa butter formula for pets.

Till then, embrace all the good things that come with cocoa butter!

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Hello! Sedi here... I love cocoa and everything that comes out it even more! Chocolate, butter, paste, etc... Picture this: I have very sensitive and dry skin, and as a result, I develop dark spots, especially on my legs, at the slightest provocation. To get rid of it, I have been using cocoa butter for more than a decade. My dark spots are gone; my skin tone is even! When I'm not writing, you'll find me reading, working out, and advocating for plastic-free earth.