Caffeine has been reported to be the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance on the earth. It was reported that nine out of ten Americans consume caffeine each day. Caffeine is a white crystalline xanthine alkaloid that works as a psychoactive stimulant.
In 1820, caffeine was first isolated from coffee by a German chemist and in 1821 by French chemists who later coined the word caffeine. The substance can be found in fruit, leaves and seeds. In certain plants it acts as a natural pesticide that kills insects who trying feeding on the vegetation. Research shows that most caffeine consumed by humans is extracted from the bean of the coffee plant and the leaves of the teach bush. Products derived from the kola nut also contain caffeine.
Side Effects of Caffeine
Studies show that most people do not realize that caffeine is a drug, but it has some of the same negative qualities as other substances that are abused. Caffeine is most commonly consumed through liquids such as coffee, tea, energy drinks and soft drinks. It can also be obtained in pill form, powder or candy. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system which provides a jolt of energy. When consumed regularly the body can become dependent on the substance and react differently if it is not present. Symptoms of caffeine addiction can start to be evident after a long period of continued use.
Side Effects Include:
- Caffeine Anxiety
- Muscle twitching
- Heart palpitations
- Panic attacks
- Sleep disorders
Caffeine and Mental Health
Some cases of caffeine abuse have led users to have obsessive-compulsive symptoms, panic disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and caffeine-induced psychosis. Research has always shown caffeine to increase anxiety and muscle tension. These reactions happen but are not common in most people who use Caffeine regularly. Caffeine is also a contributing factor in erectile dysfunction.
Positive Qualities of Caffeine
Caffeine also has positive qualities that make it a valued ingredient in many drinks and foods. Studies show that when night shift workers are consuming coffee or some form of caffeine there are less mistakes on the job. Caffeine temporarily increases energy and alertness. Research shows that caffeine increases a person’s capabilities for mental and physical labor. Medicinal uses of caffeine have also been found to be beneficial. Caffeine citrate has been used as a short and long-term treatment for infants with breathing problems.
Potential Health Risks
The health risks of caffeine abuse can be serious and in some circumstances life threatening. Overdosing on caffeine is possible and this can be potentially deadly. Overuse of caffeine can also raise a potential health risk for pregnant women. A study showed that mothers who drank 1-2 cups of coffee a day were more likely to give birth to a child with mental and physical disorders. That same study also showed a connection between caffeine abuse and miscarriages.
Caffeine is abused by millions of people. Differentiating whether an individual has a problem can be difficult. The signs and symptoms may be something to look into when approaching this topic. Medical professionals agree that caffeine can be used safely when used in moderation.