Exploring the effects of commonly consumed substances like caffeine has long been an important area of interest among scientists looking to understand their impacts on human behaviors. Caffeine is an extremely common chemical found in numerous beverages including coffee or tea along with fruit seeds like cacao.
It has given way for all sorts of interesting research around its categorization as either a stimulant or not. So is caffeine a stimulant? In this article we will examine how exactly caffeine interacts with our bodies while also evaluating arguments for why it ought to be considered a central nervous system stimulating agent.
What is Caffeine?
A naturally occurring compound found in some plants’ seeds, leaves, and fruits serves as a stimulant; this compound is called caffeine. Renowned for its psychoactive effects when consumed by humans, it has been noted to have pest-repelling qualities in plant species producing it. Its classification as a xanthine alkaloid links it to other substances that have stimulating effects on the central nervous system.
How Does Caffeine Work In the Body?
Essentially, then you ingest caffeine, it gets absorbed very quickly. It works by blocking adenosine such that it fails to offer its function as a neurotransmitter that reduces alertness and promotes sleep. As a result, the blocked adenosine fails at its job, leading to wakefulness and increased energy levels. That is why you feel awake and more energetic when you consume caffeine. You’re also able to have more mental focus.
Additionally, existing research findings show that caffeine tends to influence neurotransmitters in the brain including dopamine and norepinephrine. They are responsible for responding to emotions and stress for good general health. Caffeine raises their levels, such that you feel less stressed and more relaxed.
Effects of Ingesting Caffeine
There are several things that happen in the body whenever you consume this drug. The consequences depend on an individual’s ability to handle the stimulant. Generally, it causes:
- Reduced fatigue
- Enhanced alertness
- More physical performance
- Better mood
- Increased urination
- Increase heart rate/blood pressure
How Much Caffeine Is Safe To Consume?
There are several factors that determine the right amount of caffeine you should consume. Basically, different individuals tolerate caffeine differently. Thus, their caffeine dosage would depend on age, tolerance, weight, general health, and sensitivity. It is recommended to consume not more than 400 mg of caffeine in a day among healthy persons. This equates to about four standard cups of joe.
Although coffee is generally safe when consumed in moderation, certain people react more negatively upon ingesting it than others. Consuming it excessively can cause adverse health effects. In fact, some individuals with health issues such as heart disease, anxiety challenges as well as pregnant women are advised to limit caffeine intake or avoid it altogether. Most notably, kids should not take caffeinated brews.
In the event that you experience difficulties after taking this stimulating drug, reduce your intake. If there health concerns, consider visiting your doctor for medical assistance and advice.
Symptom of Addiction and Withdrawal from Caffeine
Unfortunately, this substance causes addiction. If you try to stop taking it abruptly, you may experience withdrawal symptoms including:
- Poor concentration
- Aching muscles
These symptoms may start occurring about 12 hours after withdrawal. Sadly, they may last a couple of days. However, the extent of these effects vary depending on the amount taken, period of usage, and one’s ability to metabolize caffeine.
You can avoid these issues by reducing your consumption gradually before stopping it altogether. For instance, drink two cups instead of four for some days. Then drop to a single serving for more days before doing it away with it.
Healthy Caffeine Alternatives
If for one reason or the other you are unable to handle caffeine, there are numerous better options you can try. For instance, replace coffee with caffeine-free teas and enjoy more energy levels without experiencing negative effects of caffeine. Also, drink more water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
You can try herbal teas such as chamomile/peppermint to feel calm. Eat seeds/nuts in plenty to deal with fatigue for enhanced productivity throughout the day. Include exercise in your daily routine for heightened energy levels. Try inhaling essential oils to boost your mood/alertness.
Is Caffeine a stimulant?
It’s a stimulant owing to its effects on the central nervous system. As indicated previously, through impeding adenosine activity, caffeine leads to increased stimuli and awakeness much like other analogous stimulants like amphetamines and cocaine that act upon neurotransmitters inside the brain for heightened state of alertness.