In short, caffine is a drug of choice for many people, including The Motley Monk, one that affects everything in the body from digestion to metabolism as well as vision.
The news isn't all bad, as the folks over at Business Insider have culled together a list of the benefits this drug offers consumers:
- It enhances alertness. Caffeine mimicks adenosine in the brain, latching onto the receptors designed for adenosine, and pushes them out of the way. As a result, people feel more alert and awake.
- It boosts the mood. Blocking adenosine's relazing effects, caffeine lets dopamine and glutamine--natural stimulants produced by the brain--run wild, making people feel more alert, less bored, and providing a mood boost.
- It improves certain types of memory. In some (but not all) studies, caffine increases the ability to remember lists of words and straightforward information.
- It increases the attention span. One clear mental effect of imbibing caffeine is a boost in the ability to focus, especially when fatigued.
- It can decrease appetite. Caffine blunts the appetite for a brief time.
- It makes some medications work faster. When combined with certain pain-relieving medications like acetaminophen (the main active ingredient in Tylenol) and aspirin, caffine can assist in making those medications take effect more quickly, last longer, and increase their effects.
- It boosts athletic performance. Carefully calculating the right dose and not using caffine too much of it daily, caffine can assist an indvidual to achieve be the upper end of what one needs to improve performance.
To top it off, in his National Geographic article detailing the history of caffine, Harvard neuroscientist Charles Czeisler notes that caffeine--when combined with electricity--provided the necessary stimulus for humans to escape natural patterns of sleep and wakefulness, breaking them free from the cycle of the sun.
The outcome? For Czeisler, caffine fostered the “great transformation of human economic endeavor from the farm to the factory." Wow! And here The Motley Monk thought all along economic progress was due to the invention of the steam engine!
So, even though there is evidence for caffeine withdrawal symptoms and the fact that it acts as a weak reinforcer, none of these two effects is as pronounced as those associated with the cocaine use. Caffeine also doesn't seem to pose any threat to the individual or to society.
But what about becoming addicted to caffine? The Swedish researchers add that there's no need to add diagnosis "caffeine dependence" to the psychiatric manuals.
Phew! Imagine having to go visit with Dr. I. M. Kookie three times weekly for several years at $150 a pop to overcome a caffine addiction!
So, as in all things, "virtus in media stat" ("virtue is found in the middle"). Enjoy caffine and its effects, but not too much!
Let the discussion begin...
To read the Swedish researchers' report, click on the following link:
To read the Business Insider article, click on the following link:
To read the National Geographic article, click on the following link: