The average American coffee drinker consumes about 3 cups a day. Most adults begin their day with a cup of coffee or tea. Even children get their morning buzz from a can of soda. And unfortunately, most of these beverages, especially coffee, contain caffeine.
Caffeine is a mind-altering drug- possibly the most popular drug in the world. Caffeine obtained from cola nuts, is the main ingredient in coffee, some teas, cocoa, and colas. In addition, more than 1,000 over-the-counter and several hundred prescription drugs contain caffeine. Humans have consumed and abused the use of caffeine for centuries- archaeologist have found evidence of caffeine consumption as early as 2700 BC.
Caffeine directly stimulates the central nervous system. It is absorbed rapidly from the stomach and small intestines and crosses the blood/brain barrier quite readily. (Maximum concentration in the blood occurs within 3o to 60 minutes.) This in turn effects the rest of the body.
Most researchers agree that caffeine can counteract slight changes in performance brought about by boredom, fatigue, or lack of sleep- for a period of time. Caffeine is a drug and, in most cases it acts like an amphetamine, pepping the system up temporarily, and then letting it down.
Caffeine effects most of the organs of the body – it constricts the blood vessels, speed up the heart, and stimulates the brains, stomach, kidneys, ovaries and testes.
Symptoms of excessive caffeine consumption include nervousness, headaches, restlessness, insomnia, nervous tremors, anxiety, heart palpitations, stomachaches, heartburn, diarrhea, frequent urination and depression.
A recent study also found that frequent consumption of cola drinks by children might impair brain and central nervous system development. Another study found that people, who drank as little as two cups of coffee per day, doubled their chances of contracting cancer of pancreas; three cups a day nearly tripled it. Cases of pancreatic cancer have nearly tripled in the past thirty years!
Studies have also linked caffeine consumption with increased heart attacks, cancer of the bladder and urinary tract, ulcers, and other diseases.
Even decaffeinated coffee has unhealthy side effects- most are usually treated with methylene chloride, a cancer-causing substance.
Withdrawal symptoms are common among those who try to quit. Common symptoms include headaches, drowsiness, an inability to concentrate, lethargy, nervousness, and depression. These symptoms can last for up to two weeks or more.
For those who want to kick the caffeine habit altogether, the herb Alfalfa Leaf may be of help. Alfalfa has been proven effective in cases of recuperative drug addiction.