- Increases energy and physical endurance
- Increases focus and cognitive performance
- Supports a healthy metabolism
Caffeine is a purine alkaloid best known as the main stimulating compound present in Camellia sinensis, the 'tea plant', and Coffea arabica, the ‘coffee tree’.
Caffeine is classified as a relatively mild natural stimulant that acts as a promoter of dopaminergic and adrenergic signalling, and increases focus and energy.
After centuries of use, there have been few negative reports from coffee or tea consumption. Pure caffeine is a lot stronger and must be used with caution. A regular cup of coffee contains around 100-150mg caffeine, and a regular cup of black tea around 50mg caffeine.
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Caffeine product reviews
“I have used this product daily for over a month now taking between 200mg to 400mg. I usually just mix it water, and I found it to be a much better alternative to coffee. While it does make the water taste slightly bitter, it does not leave a lingering aftertaste like coffee. I have tried caffeine pills, energy shots, energy drinks, caffeinated gum, and all kinds of other energy "gimmicks." This powder has been the most effective way I have gotten the alertness and focus I expect from caffeine. Many of the other forms of caffeine tend to give me a short burst of energy then leave me groggy and with indigestion. I am glad I finally found an easy way to get an energy boost when I need it.” – Wildcat, caffeine supplement review
“Using caffeine pills saves a small fortune compared to drinking coffee, and that extends to caffeine powder. If you are buying a SB coffee for $5, at an estimated 200mg, you'd spend about $10,000 for the same amount of caffeine. It's a no-brainer.” – Jonathan, caffeine supplement review
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- Caffeine is an alkaloid found in the seeds Coffea Arabica, a plant that is indigenous to Ethiopia
- Caffeine acts as a stimulant of the CNS and increases wakefulness, improves focus and provides a kick of energy
- A regular cup of coffee contains around 150mg caffeine and the toxicity may result from doses higher than around 5000mg pure caffeine
- There are some side effects to caffeine use including headaches, high blood pressure and withdrawal symptoms
Caffeine is a purine alkaloid found in many plants but predominantly in Coffea Arabica, the ‘coffee tree’ - a dark green shrub with white flower clusters that is indigenous to Ethiopia and cultivated in Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Mexico and Kenya[i]. Caffeine is classified as a stimulant with slightly dangerous properties. It acts as a vasoconstrictor and increases focus and energy. Caffeine has been used in England since 1601 (introduced as “kahveh”) and there have been very few negative reports from coffee use. However, pure caffeine is a lot stronger and needs to be used with more caution.
Caffeine benefits / effects
Caffeine acts as a stimulant of the central nervous system, promoting wakefulness and energy. Caffeine inhibits cAMP phosphodiesterase activity and acts as an antagonist of adenoside receptors and therefore causes more dopamine to be released and activation of different ‘brain zones’ (causing enhanced mental activity). [ii]
Increased mental activity
Caffeine is has been known to act as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant for a long time, and its positive effects on mental activity have been noted since its first use.
In 1978, a double-blind placebo study was conducted on a group of nine healthy non-caffeine drinkers to elucidate its effects on the CNS and brain function. Doses of 250mg (the equivalent of around 2 cups of coffee) caffeine or placebo were administered to the group and the results were recorded.
“Caffeine increased plasma renin activity by 57 per cent, plasma norepinephrine by 75 per cent and plasma epinephrine by 207 per cent. Urinary normetanephrine and metanephrine were increased 52 per cent and 100 per cent respectively. Mean blood pressure rose 14/10 mm Hg one hour after caffeine ingestion. There was a slight fall and then a rise in heart rate.” (Carr et al, 1978)[iii]
A research piece published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease about the effects of caffeine on mental health establishes some more facts about caffeine’s benefits to mental activity.
“These benefits seem to be related to adaptation of mental energy to the context by increasing alertness, attention, and cognitive function (more evident in longer or more difficult tasks or situations of low arousal) and by elevating mood. Accordingly, moderate caffeine intake (< 6 cups/day) has been associated with less depressive symptoms, fewer cognitive failures, and lower risk of suicide. However, its putative therapeutic effects on depression and ADHD have been insufficiently studied.” (Lara, 2010)[iv]
Increased physical energy
Another recent study on 10 lean and 10 obese women found that caffeine was able to significantly increase thermogenesis (heat-production) in both groups. This signifies an increase in metabolism and therefore a possible use in weight-loss. The net energy expenditure was also showed to increase for both groups after consumption of 150mg caffeine.[v]
“Single-dose oral administration of 100 mg caffeine increased the resting metabolic rate of both lean and postobese human volunteers by 3-4% (p less than 0.02) over 150 min and improved the defective diet-induced thermogenesis observed in the postobese subjects.” (Collins et al, 1989)
Caffeine has also been shown to act as a vasoconstrictor, thereby increasing blood pressure and decreasing heart rate. This is one of its primary effects and methods of action. [vi]
Caffeine recommended usage
Roasted coffee tree seeds “coffee beans” have approximately 1-2% caffeine content so an average cup of coffee is around 150mg caffeine.
Toxic effects can occur at very high doses. The LD50 (the lethal dose for 50% of the population) for humans is said to be around 150-200mg/kg. For a 75kg person this is around 11g. However, the lower limit for fatal overdose is known to be at around 5g.
Caffeine side effects and warnings
Large doses of caffeine may cause nervousness, headache, tremor, spasms, palpitations, high blood pressure, insomnia and indigestion. Caffeine is also known to be addictive and withdrawal symptoms from prolonged caffeine use are common.
[i] “Mind-altering and Poisonous Plants of the World” Michael Wink & Ben-Erik van Wyk published Briza Publications, Pretoria, South Africa, 2008.pgs 98 and 257
[ii] “Caffeine” examine.com, retrieved 19-12-2014
[iii] “Effects of Caffeine on Plasma Renin Activity, Catecholamines and Blood Pressure” David Robertson, M.D., Jürgen C. Frölich, M.D., R. Keith Carr, J. Throck Watson, Ph.D., John W. Hollifield, M.D., David G. Shand, M.D., and John A. Oates, M.D., N Engl J Med 1978; 298:181-186 January 26, 1978
[iv] “Caffeine, Mental Health, and Psychiatric Disorders” Diogo R. Lara, Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, Volume 20, Supplement 1/ 2010
[v] “Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers.” A G Dulloo, C A Geissler, T Horton, A Collins and D S Miller Am J Clin Nutr January 1989 vol. 49 no. 1 44-50
[vi] “Cardiovascular effects of coffee and caffeine” Thomas L. Whitsett, MD, Carl V. Manion, MD, H.Dix Christensen, PhD, The American Journal of Cardiology, Volume 53, Issue 7, 15 March 1984, Pages 918–922