We could call this one the Daily Buzz because if you are like 90 percent of the adult U.S. population, you do caffeine on the regular. I know I do. How the heck would we college students survive finals, midterms, and 8 a.m. classes if it weren't for the world's most popular drug, good ole caffeine.
And when I say popular, I mean it. This stuff is consumed at a rate of 120,000 tons per year. Most of this caffeine is ingested in the form of coffee and the average American drinks 22.1 gallons of it a year. Dudes, that's one and a half kegs of coffee a year. Righteous!
So how exactly does this stuff work its magic? And what are the downsides of this potion? Don't worry, because I'm about to brew up a bunch of fun facts and stats on the java that are good til the last drop.
So yea, Joe. As if you didn't already know this, caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. It's found in such libations as coffee, tea, soda pop, and energy drinks. You can also find trace amounts of it in chocolate and in over the counter pain medicines.
Regular old drip coffee clocks in around 150mg per cup. Tea has anywhere from 9 to 45mgs. As far as soda pops go, Mt. Dew takes the cake at 54mg per can. Finally putting to rest the Pepsi v. Coke debate of the modern age, Coca-Cola tops Pepsi for caffeine by a good 10mg.
There is a drink called PowerShot which has 1200mg of caffeine per can, which I imagine would not be as fun to experience as it sounds. But your more middle of the road energy drinks such as RockStar and Red Bull have roughly the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee.
Humans have been using caffeine since the frickin' Stone Age and it was a major aspect of some ancient cultures. A popular legend traces its discovery to a goat herder in ancient Ethiopia who noticed that his goats got super jazzed after eating from the coffee shrub, he tried it himself and the world was wakened to the joys of caffeine.
Something rad I dug up is that the US Government used to have it out for the stuff. In 1911 it seized 40 barrels and 20 kegs of Coca-Cola syrup hoping to convince the population that caffeine was "injurous to health." They brought their claims to the courts and claimed that over consumption of Cola at one girls' school led to "wild nocturnal freaks, violations of college rules and female proprieties, and even immoralities."
Holy crap! I've had my share of "too much caffeine" moments, but never in my wildest dreams did I think they could lead me to commit immoralities. Now I know.
Too much caffeine can be a problem in other ways though. Ask anyone whose ever OD'd on the stuff and they'll tell you it's kind of a gross feeling. An OD of the caffeine is around the 250 to 750 mg area (around 2 to 7 cups of coffee, depending on your tolerance). Symptoms include dizziness, nausea, headache, irregular heartbeats, and restlessness.
Go beyond the 7-cup mark and get ready for possible anxiety attacks, delirium, diarrhea, vomiting, drowsiness (ironic), and difficulty breathing. Also, uncontrollable chatter about really lame and annoying stuff combined with excessively loud laughing, and it may result in your friends hating you, at least temporarily.
Another thing about going too far with caffeine is that the stuff is addictive. Have you ever binged for a while and then tried to go cold turkey? Then you know what I talk about when I say that withdrawal from caffeine can lead to the most brain shattering headaches known in the history of humankind. I'm talking "please god kill me now, just one more sip and I'm done for good I swear" kind of headaches. This is not an exaggeration. If you are trying to scale back then do it gradually, especially if you've got a high daily intake level.
There are some long-term effects associated with high daily doses. Heart disease, ulcers, diabetes, and liver problems have been observed in hard-core coffee heads. Moderation my friends, moderation.
If you want to check out something cool, you should Google “Spiders on Drugs.” Those dudes (spiders) got trashed on caffeine and their webs were ridiculous. Way worse than when they gave the spiders peyote.
I doubt caffeine is going anywhere anytime soon. I imagine the world would come crashing in, or at least significantly slow down, if we threw caffeine in the same category as its stimulants cousins. I know I'd be down for the revolution if that were to happen. Viva la caffeine!