Explain a Concept: Caffeine at its Best
Nearly 90% of Americans consume caffeine in one form or another every day. And over half of all American adults consume more than 300 milligrams (mg) of caffeine daily, making it America's most popular drug (Gerry, 40). The caffeine we ingest comes from things like coffee, tea, cola, chocolate, etc.
Caffeine is found naturally in the leaves and fruit of more than 60 plants, including coffee beans, cocoa beans, kola nuts and tea leaves, according to Gerry. When isolated in pure form, caffeine is an odorless white crystalline powder that tastes very bitter. Caffeine is known medically as trimethylxanthine. It can be used, medically, as a mild diuretic which increases urine production (68-71). Recreationally, it is used to provide a "boost of energy" or to feel more alert. It's often used to stay awake longer. Many people feel as though they can't function in the morning without a cup of coffee.
Pendergrast tells us that caffeine is an addictive drug. Among its many actions, uses and purposes, it operates using the same mechanisms that amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin use to stimulate the brain. When comparing caffeine to other drugs, the effects are more mild than amphetamines, cocaine and heroin, but it still manipulates the same channels in your brain. This gives caffeine its addictive qualities. If you feel like you cannot function without it and must consume it every day, then you are most likely addicted to caffeine (79).
Why do so many people consume so much caffeine? Why does caffeine wake you up? By understanding the drug's actions inside the body you can see why people use it so much. Brain tells us that much of it is related to adenosine. When adenosine is created in the brain, it causes...