Caffeine - “The Jitter Drug"
- Caffeine is an alkaloid found naturally in coffee beans, cacao beans and the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) – it is also added to some soft drinks and energy drinks
- Caffeine is well known and used for its stimulating properties - and is considered to be the most commonly used psychoactive drug in the world consumed in behaviourally active doses
- Results for health effects of caffeine are mixed and inconclusive and also affect different people to varying degrees – controversial studies include those on caffeine’s both positive and negative effects on cancer, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, liver cirrhosis, cardiovascular disease, pregnancy complications, eating disorders, depressive disorders (including suicidal effects)
Coffee – The most popular drink in the world
- 400 billion cups / year drunk worldwide - Top 100 Expresso – 2012 Report
- >50% of adult U.S. population drink coffee everyday – 400 million cups/day.
Tea, chocolate and coffee either directly contain the stimulants theobromine and theophylline or they are metabolized from caffeine (the liver metabolizes caffeine into 10% theobromine and 4% theophylline)
· Theobromine – large amounts found in cacao beans and small amounts in tea leaves; used for vasodilation, as a diuretic, as a myocardial (i.e. heart muscle) stimulant (increases heartbeat rate), as an antitussive by suppressing vagus nerve activity (superior to codeine at reducing coughs Imperial College of London Study, 2004), and can treat asthma, since it relaxes bronchial smooth muscles
· Theophylline – found in small amounts in tea and cacao beans; used in therapeutic amounts for respiratory diseases, including COPD and asthma, due to its ability to relax bronchial smooth muscle and to stimulate the medullary respiratory centre