Caffeine Facts

Caffeine Facts

Caffeine is a drug. It is one of only two drugs contained in food that is a natural part of the food when it is grown. Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and cola and energy drinks making it one of the most widely used drugs in the world. Caffeine concentration varies according to the plant variety, the growing conditions and the strength of the given brew. Coffee beans of the arabica strain, grown primarily in Central and South America contain approximately 1% caffeine. Robusta coffee beans, grown in Africa and Indonesia, contain about 2%. The caffeine content of tea leaves can be as high as 5%. Although tea leaves generally contain more caffeine by weight than coffee beans, there is usually more caffeine in a cup of coffee than in a cup of tea because more coffee beans than tea leaves are used to make each regular cup. Also tea is infused, not boiled. Most researchers now agree that there is little risk of harm when a person consumes less than 600mg of caffeine a day. At times of anxiety or stress, or during pregnancy, many doctors now recommend consumption of less than 200 mg a day. The short-term effects of using caffeine may include:

  • increased body temperature
  • increased urination
  • increased alertness
  • irritability and restlessness

The use of coffee to sober up a person after drinking alcohol is not effective. It does not improve impaired motor coordination but may make the person more alert. It simply makes the intoxicated person more awake.

What are the long-term effects of caffeine?

Daily use of caffeine in low to moderate doses in most healthy adults does not appear to produce any harmful effects. Substantial daily doses – and in some people even as little as 250 mg per day can lead to unpleasant effects such as:

  • restlessness
  • nervousness
  • insomnia
  • flushed face
  • increased urination
  • stomach upsets
  • muscle twitching

Fatal overdose with caffeine is extremely rare, but it is possible. The lethal dose in humans appears to be 5 to 10 grams, although toxic symptoms may appear with lower doses. Some symptoms of caffeine poisoning include tremors (involuntary shaking), nausea, vomiting, irregular or rapid heart rate and confusion. In extreme cases, individuals may become delirious or have seizures. In these cases, death may be caused by seizures that results in an inability to breathe. In less severe cases, high doses have been associated with panic attacks.

Caffeine Withdrawal 

Caffeine Withdrawal can last up to a week or longer. Every person is different however some have experienced symptoms lasting as long as a few weeks with the harshest symptoms the first week. Typically the more amount of caffeine you consume the intense the symptoms could be. So you might be asking yourself, when do symptoms of withdrawal usually begin? 
According to research conducted on caffeine withdrawal published by Karima R. Sajadi-Ernazarova and  Richard J. Hamilton of Drexel University and Drexel University College of Medicine,  the onset of symptoms can usually occur within 12-24 hours and can reach their peak between 20-51 hours, meaning this is the time you are likely to experience the worse symptoms.

The symptoms vary from person to person with the most common being headache,, decreased energy, fatigue, decreased activity, drowsiness, decreased alertness, feeling discontent,  difficulty concentrating, depressed mood, irritability, and feeling brain fog or not thinking clear. The range of withdrawal symptoms could be measured from mild to severe and could range based on higher amounts of consumption to as low as one cup per day.

According to studies which have been conducted the prevalence of a headache is about 50%, and clinically significant distress or functional impairment is 13%. 

How To Quit Caffeine

If you are considering quitting caffeine altogether, you should always  seek guidance from your doctor. Many recommendations gradually decrease the amount of caffeine versus quitting cold turkey as you are likely to experience withdrawal side effects. One doctor Frank Lipman, M.D. writes about eliminating other drinks or foods such as chocolate and energy drinks slowly removing other things that could be adding to your overall consumption of caffeine, even medicines. The point is to do it gradually Once you’ve eliminated all the offenders and feel you are ready to start eliminating the main culprit you can do so by breaking it down into a week.

The first Day – You Drink Your Regular Amount Of Coffee
The Second – Fifth Day  – Try a 50/50 Blend of Regular and Decaf
On the Sixth Day – Try  3/4 Decaf 1/4 Regular 
On The 7th Day – Go Full Decaf

Everyone is different of course but if you are ready to kick the caffeine this may be a good start. 




Information from NDARC.


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