ACTION IN THE BODY AND COMMON SOURCES
Caffeine is a drug used by millions of people daily that stimulates the body. Many people may experience undesirable effects of caffeine stimulation. Caffeine stimulates a person’s “fight or flight” reaction.
Mental activity and feelings of alertness are increased and generally the body is prepared for quick action. These are the primary effects and generally why caffeine is used. However, “What goes up must come down.” The down is the rebound of caffeine consumption that occurs after the dose wears off. This is caffeine’s secondary effect. Symptoms of the secondary effect are why caffeine was consumed the first time. The rebound mental dullness, sleepiness and physical sluggishness may cause a person to desire another dose. This is the cycle of stimulant use. The up and down cycles place excessive stress on the systems of the body and can become addictive.
Some of the adverse primary effects of caffeine stimulation on specific body systems include:
Central nervous system
Stimulation which can cause behavioral changes; insomnia, restlessness, nervousness, anxiety, ringing in the ears, muscular tremor, headaches, lightheadedness.
Rapid heart rate, irregular heat rate, palpitations, increased or decreased blood pressure, decreased blood flow to the brain, cold hands and feet.
Increased gastric secretion, gastric irritation, ulcers, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and anal itching.
Decreased immune function, decreased thymus gland size, decreased levels of circulating antibodies.
Kidney and bladder irritation, diuresis, increased frequency of urination, burning during urination.
Increased sweating, fibrocystic breast changes.
Increased or decreased blood sugar levels, pancreatic cancer, depletion of minerals and water-soluble vitamins and dehydration.
Caffeine is known to cross the placenta and the safety of caffeine exposure before birth is still unknown. Caffeine is passed unchanged through breast milk and is known to contribute to nervous irritability of nursing infants, as well as the above-listed symptoms.
After discontinuing caffeine consumption, opposite (secondary) effects, as well as headaches, may result for a short while until the body re-equilibrates.
COMMON SOURCES OF CAFFEINE
Beverages Serving Size Caffeine (mg)
coffee, drip 8 oz =175-245
coffee, perk 8 oz =95-200
coffee, instant 8 oz =65-170
coffee, decaffeinated 8 oz =3-8
tea, 5-minute steep 8 oz =65-160
tea, 3-minute steep 8 oz =30-80
hot cocoa 8 oz =3-16
caffeinated soft drinks 12 oz =35-55
Foods Serving Size Caffeine (mg)
milk chocolate 1 oz =1-15
bittersweet chocolate 1 oz =5-35
chocolate cake 1 slice =20-50
Over-the-Counter Drugs Dosage Caffeine (mg)
Anacin, Empirin, Midol 2 tabs =65
Excedrin 2 tabs=130
NoDoz 2 tabs=200
Aqua-Ban (diuretic) 2 tabs=200
Dexatrim (weight control aid) 1 tab= 200
Other sources of caffeine are Yerba mate, Guarana leaves, Yon pon and Kola nut. These ingredients are in many herbal energy and weight loss formulas, so it is important to read labels.