How well do you know your caffeine? Read on, you chugger of the energy shots, for enlightenment is always the greatest stimulant!
Caffeine is the common name for trimethylxanthine. This chemical compound is also known as coffeine, theine, mateine, guaranine, or methyltheobromine. Caffeine is naturally produced by a wide range of different plants, including coffee beans, guarana, yerba mate, cacao beans, and tea. In it's natural form within the plants, caffeine acts as a natural pesticide. It literally paralyzes and kills insects that try feed on the plants.
When the base chemical is purified, caffeine is an extremely bitter powder. It is added to beverages like colas to give the beverage a pleasing bitter aftertaste. However, caffeine is also a very addictive stimulant. In humans, it stimulates the central nervous system, as well as the heart rate and respiration. It also has psychotropic properties, and acts as a mild diuretic (helps the body process fluids).
A "normal dose" of caffeine is widely considered to be a dosage of 100 mg, which is approximately the same amount found in a regular cup of coffee. However, over 50 percent of adults in the USA consume more than 300 mg of caffeine daily,
which makes it America's most popular drug. Caffeine is generally consumed in coffee, cola, chocolate, and tea, as well as being sold over-the-counter as a stimulant.
Caffeine works by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain (wide awake) and other organs (a little shake). This lowers the ability of adenosine to bind to the receptors. The stimulated nerve cells release the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline), which increases heart rate and blood pressure. Caffeine also increases the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain.
Caffeine quickly dissipates from the brain. However, continued exposure to caffeine leads to developing a tolerance to it. Tolerance causes the body to become sensitized to to adenosine, so withdrawal causes blood pressure to drop,
which can result in a headache and other symptoms. Too much caffeine can result in caffeine intoxication, which is characterized by nervousness, excitement, insomnia, cold hands/feet and sometimes hallucinations. Some people have reported experiencing symptoms relating to caffeine intoxication after ingesting as little as 250 mg per day. The dosage that would be considered fatal for an adult person is somewhere around 13-19 grams of caffeine.