It is the most widely used drug in the world, it lifts your spirits in the morning, puts pep in your step and is besides sugar-gives energy drinks their JOLT (some of you will remember Jolt Cola). Today we are talking about caffeine. Personally, I can live without it BUT WHY WOULD I WANT TO?!?!. I love my cups of coffee and the energy surge associated with it. Caffeine has gotten me through tough days at work, helped me write many University essays and has put me into BEAST MODE at the gym. It’s a legal wonder drug and most importantly it has a wide range of health benefits that I am here to tell you about:
For those living under a rock, caffeine is a central nervous stimulant (CNS). It is commonly found in coffee, tea, cola, guarana and can be easily extracted into its pure form as a white crystalline powder. The Chinese discovered it while steeping tea in 3000 BCE and it wasn’t fully extracted until 1819 by German chemist Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge. Clearly it was a massive hit to the public and it is regarded as one of the most researched chemicals ever! There are 100’s of thousands of studies citing caffeine and it regarded as the most openly available psychoactive substance in the world due to its high demand and relative safety (it takes a ridiculous amount of caffeine consumption to overdose and die from, JUST DON’T ATTEMPT IT). Ok, let’s look at some of the benefits to taking a normal daily dose of caffeine:
- Caffeine increases mental alertness: Caffeine blocks adenosine (which makes you sleepy) and increases epinephrine (which makes you alert) allowing you to stay alert and focused.
- Caffeine can possibly cure baldness: The researchers who worked on this project were T. W. Fischer MD, U. C. Hipler PhD andP. Elsner MD.
- They took biopsies from the scalps of 14 men in the early stages of hair loss.
- They then exposed the hair follicles to solutions containing different levels of caffeine.
- They also exposed some of the follicles to DHT, the hormone responsible for hair loss.
- After 8 days, even the hair follicles exposed to the DHT showed growth.
- Growth was greatest in follicles that were placed in solutions of caffeine only.
- Caffeine may prevent Parkinson’s Disease: One study has shown that caffeine drinkers were 15 times less likely to get Parkinson’s disease! More research is needed but other studies suggest caffeine consumption may also prevent Alzheimer’s. 3-5 cups of coffee seemed to be the optimal amount (80-400mg caffeine/day).
- Obesity is the leading cause of fatty liver disease and caffeine may help reduce it. Although the study is conducted on mice, it does show promising results. These results provide novel insight into caffeine’s lipolytic actions through autophagy in mammalian liver and its potential beneficial effects in NAFLD.
- For all of you male readers: Caffeine consuming men showed increased semen volume. A fairly large sample size of 4500 men (75% who consumed caffeine) who consumed caffeine daily had semen volumes that was slightly and significantly higher than non-caffeine consumers.
- Caffeine cures migraines. I suffer from migraines and some were so bad when I was younger, I would have to be rushed to the emergency. I remember my doctors giving me caffeine to help with my head aches and it honestly helped me a lot. If I feel a headache coming on I will always grab a coffee or a caffeine pill to help curb the pain.
“Caffeine is used by mouth or rectally in combination with painkillers (such as aspirin and acetaminophen) and a chemical called ergotamine for treating migraine headaches. It is also used with painkillers for simple headaches and preventing and treating headaches after epidural anesthesia.”
- Caffeine is commonly used to enhance athletic performance: Caffeine effects the entire body and it has a profound desired effect on athletic performance. More adrenaline release, higher body temp, reduced glycogen burn in muscles, muscle fibers twitch faster, higher β-endorphins (better mood) all play a part in why caffeine helps physical performance.
- Caffeine creams are applied to the skin to reduce redness and itching in dermatitis.
- Caffeine helps you lose fat! This is always a big topic. Caffeine is a CNS stimulant and like most stimulants it increases thermogenesis and your metabolic rate, while decreasing appetite. While this is occurring, your body allows for stored fat to be burned as energy for easily. The body goes into a flight or fight state, that releases epinephrine which allows the body to temporarily burn more fat. *Remember over time your body will build a resistance to caffeine’s effects and you will require higher dosages to achieve desired results. I always recommend you talk to your doctor before and while you are taking any drugs or supplements.
- Caffeine and sleep! If you are sensitive to caffeine and it disturbs your sleep, make sure to only consume it a minimum of 12 hours before bed. The average half-life is 5-6 hours and is dose and human dependent. Caffeine sensitive people need to drink more water to help flush the caffeine out of your system. With that in mind, I recommend anyone who consumes caffeine to drink more water as it is a natural diuretic (makes you urinate)
So find your fix and enjoy the wonderful benefits this miracle substance.