What Is Caffeine?

In terms of chemical engineering, caffeine is an alkaloid of plant origin. Caffeine is the direct stimulator of the CNS (central nervous system). So, caffeine produces direct effects on the CNS of a person who ingests it. Caffeine is also designated as a natural pest controlling agent of plants like coffee shrubs, tea trees, cacao trees and yuba mate. Caffeine leads to the collapse of various pests and insects by over-stimulating their central nervous system.

Nomenclature of caffeine
Some other popular names of caffeine are mateine, theine and guaranine. Its nomenclature depends upon the source plant. Caffeine is a popular psychoactive drug. But, caffeine can be addictive to regular users, but still it is not designated as a harmful substance. Therefore its use in the sodas, coffees and teas is still legal. Plants of yuba mate and leaves of tea contain very less amounts of caffeine. But a considerable amount of the caffeine is present in the coffee beans. Even coca beans also possess caffeine, but major component of these beans is theobromine. (It is the name of another alkaloid of same class).

White powder of caffeine
After extraction from the plants, caffeine comes out as a white powder. This powdered form of caffeine is actually bitter in taste, so most of the beverage companies who use this form of caffeine also add some amounts of sweeteners/sugars in their products in order to reduce the bitterness of the product. There are some pills like “No-Doz”, which contain pure form of caffeine, without any sugar dilutions. Usually these pills have extremely bitter tastes.

Addiction of caffeine
Caffeine is not addictive in general cases, but with regular use body become adaptive to the caffeine. Most of caffeine users find it difficult to perform well without having a cup of tea or coffee. As mentioned before, caffeine stimulates the CNS of a person, this causes increase in heart rates, expansion of blood vessels takes place and as a result brain receives much more oxygen. This effect of caffeine can play its role for an hour or more.

Moreover, it has been observed that regular users of caffeine experience severe headaches if they don’t satisfy the caffeine needs of the body. This need can be well satisfied by means of tea, coffee or soda. Because of this reason some headache tablets also contain some amount of the caffeine. Headache occurs because in the absence of caffeine shrinking of blood vessels takes place and they restrict the blood flow; as a result the blood gets accumulated around the sinus cavities and brains. This accumulation of blood leads to severe headache.

Lethal caffeine
In general, even high doses of caffeine can not be lethal, but still some death cases are in reports. One will be needed to ingest more then 80 tablets of caffeine or more then 300 cups of coffee in order to attain toxic doses of caffeine. Use of No-Doz or Vivarin is common to amplify the mental awareness of a person, but regular use of caffeine is detrimental for health. So, during the long drives and late night studies use of caffeine (coffee) should be preferred.

Written by Lucas Beaumont

Generalist. Wikipedia contributor. Elementary school teacher from Saskatchewan, Canada.

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