The Real Effects of Caffeine

May 05, 2022


Nov 18, 2015

The Real Effects of Caffeine

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Caffeine – the psychoactive drug that’s part of your morning routine.


Derived from the French word for coffee, caffeine has been a cherished stimulant for the last 5000 years, with the earliest evidence dating back the Chinese emperor Shennong who purportedly discovered tea when a few leaves fell into a cup of hot water. (Which, in the spirit of inquiry, he then drank?)


Caffeine works by chemically simulating a mild state of emergency, triggering the release of adrenalin in what is essentially a gentle case of fight-or-flight. It also works neurologically, aggravating the receptors for adenosine – a chemical that induces drowsiness – preventing it from connecting, thus maintaining a feeling of alertness.


While the term “caffeine addiction” is only recognized under the loosest definitions of “addiction,” a state of physical dependence is common; meaning that real and upsetting withdrawal symptoms (headaches irritability, drowsiness, mood swings) often follow on the heels of cessated use. And there is cause to cut down – the daily recommended limit for healthy adults is no more than 400mg of caffeine, an amount that can be found in as little as 2 medium cups of coffee.


What can too much caffeine cause? The immediate effects include jitters, shakes, hyperactivity, and increased symptoms of anxiety, especially in those already prone. Long-term overuse can contribute to stiffened arteries, stroke, and bladder cancer. It’s also worryingly easy to overdose – less than a tablespoon of over-the-counter powdered caffeine is fatal. Anything less means psychosis, hallucinations and an inability to control body movements.


However – 90% of North American adults drink caffeine daily, and if we’re talking about consumption per capita, the US doesn’t even make it into the top fifty countries. Obviously, we’re getting something out of this! Why do we love caffeine?


Caffeine sharpens focus. It actually wakes us up, stimulating a release of energy, improving cognitive processing and coordination.


As a diuretic, it triggers the release of water, which can help if you’re a little bound. It has uses in the medical field as well – premature babies are dosed with (very tiny) amounts as it stimulates development, and the use thereof reduces the risk of cerebral palsy and delayed language development. In adults, regular intakes of caffeine can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, liver cirrhosis and Alzheimer’s.


Plus, it makes us feel alive.


So! The message here is not “don’t caffeinate” but rather “wisely caffeinate because to do so is to sip at the nectar of the gods.”


This may take some strategy.


Coffee, tea, and soda are the most common ways to ingest caffeine. The highest recommended daily limit for a healthy adult is around 400 mg. Although there is a myriad of factors that affect caffeine content, here are some rough guidelines!


Brewed coffee (8oz) – 95-200mg

Instant coffee (8oz) – 27-173mg

Espresso (1oz) – 47-75mg

Specialty drinks (2oz espresso) – 63-175mg


Note – even decaf has an average of 2-8mg of caffeine.



Black tea (8oz) – 60-90mg

Oolong tea (8oz) – 50-75mg

Green tea (80z) – 35-70mg

White tea (80z) – 30-55mg



Coke (12oz) – 35mg

Root Beer (12oz) – 23mg

Pepsi MAX (12oz) – 69mg

Caffeine is powerful enough to affect our bodies in significant ways, so awareness is key! Know how to get just the right amount of a good thing, and put that caffeine to good use!