Monday, April 25, 2011

Chocolate, Coffee, Yerba Mate

Chocolate contains NO caffeine, but in lieu of it, contains theobromine - a similarly structured, but completely different chemical with different properties. Apparently they differ only on the placement of a methyl group. They are technically different but so structurally similar they have similar effects in most people.
There is a similar confusion with the Andean tea Maté. Like Chocolate, Maté clearly has stimulant properties, which are obviously very different from caffeine's effects; however many people say it contains caffeine simply because because it is a stimulant. Yerba Maté contains Mateine, a xanthine even more closely related to Caffeine than Theobromine. It is a simple stereo-isomer of caffeine. Mateine, like Theobromine, is not addictive. 
From the link above:

Theobromine and caffeine are similarly constructed types of pharmacologically active chemicals metabolized by the liver. Both are stimulants but with very noticeably different effects:
mild effect
very slow onset
long lasting
50% in bloodstream after 6 to 10 hrs
increases feeling of well being
mild antidepressant
gentle, smooth, sensual stimulation
stimulates cardiovascular system
stimulates muscular system
mild effect on central nervous system
almost no one is allergic
not addictive
no withdrawal symptoms
mild diuretic
stimulates the the kidneys
strong effect
fast acting
rapid dissipation
50% in bloodstream after 2 to 5 hrs
increases alertness
increases emotional stress
jagged, nervous stimulation
stimulates cardiovascular system
stimulates respiratory system
strong effect on central nervous system
many people allergic
physically addictive
many proven withdrawal symptoms
extreme diuretic
requires large intake of fluids to balance the diuretic effect 

In both cases, smoking cigarettes accelerates the dissipation from the system.

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