Caffeine, for those who don’t know, is a drug. A stimulant, like cocaine, caffeine effects your central nervous system and it makes you feel more alert and energetic for a short period of time. Caffeine is found in tea, the most widely consumed drink in the world next to water, as well as in energy drinks, sodas and a variety of prescription drugs. Just what caffeine actually is, and what it does and doesn’t do though, are things that most users don’t know.
As stated, caffeine interacts with the central nervous system. When you drink caffeine it’s absorbed through the barrier between the blood and your stomach/intestines. Once there the caffeine constricts the blood vessels, making them thinner and increasing your blood pressure. This, combined with the stimulation of your nervous system, leads to the increased awareness and the temporary energy that a dose of caffeine in morning coffee or some other similar drink can bring on.
Caffeine has more health effects as well. Since caffeine can constrict the blood vessels it makes an excellent headache cure. Headaches are often caused by swelling blood vessels putting pressure on nerve endings in the surrounding tissue. Caffeine also acts as a diuretic, and it increases the amount of urine output and decreases the amount of water you have in your body.
There are some things that people think caffeine can do that it can’t, though. For instance, drinking a caffeinated beverage while you’re intoxicated will make your mind temporarily sharper and blunt the effects of the liquor. It will not however thin out the alcohol content in your blood or make you more likely to pass a breathalyzer test given by the police. Caffeine can also be addicting, though most people don’t use it the same was as other, more addictive substances. However, if you use caffeine regularly and you miss a traditional dose you may feel groggy and sore, and you’ll get a headache. That is a result of caffeine withdrawal since your body is so used to the drug.
There are also risks to using caffeine in certain circumstances. Those with bad hearts or cardiovascular diseases should avoid caffeine most times. Additionally, mixed drinks that have alcohol and energy drinks in them could lead to extreme dehydration from the combined effects of alcohol with caffeine in your blood stream. Also, you’re less likely to feel the effects of the alcohol at first, but once the caffeine wears off what you have imbibed will hit you like a freight train.
“Caffeine: How Much is Too Much?” by Mayo Clinic Staff at Mayo Clinic
“What’s Your Poison?” by ABC at ABC.net
“What Does the Headache Caffeine Connection Mean to You?” by anonymous at Relieve Migraine Headaches