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 How does caffeine affect us?

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PostSubject: How does caffeine affect us?   Wed Feb 25 2009, 18:54

How does caffeine affect us?


Caffeine is an
addictive drug, affecting 90% of all Americans, which alters the
brain's natural state, and stimulates it in a manner similar to the
amphetamines cocaine and heroin.



The mechanisms
employed by caffeine, cocaine, and heroin, are to close blood vessels
in the brain, so the brain and body cannot sleep, to cause the release
of adrenaline into the body, so the body remains active and alert, and
to manipulate dopamine production in the brain, so the person
experiences a temporary "high."



Caffeine may
be found in its natural state in many plants, including tea leaves,
coffee beans, and cocoa nuts. The pure form of caffeine is a bitter,
white, crystalline powder derived from the decaffeinating process of
coffee and tea. The vast number of products in which caffeine comes,
range from coffee, to tea, to colas, to milk chocolate, and to pain
relievers, just to mention a few.


Most people are
unaware of caffeine's addictive properties. Those who consume 300 mg.
or more per day, suffer from withdrawal symptoms if they abruptly cut
off their caffeine supply. Most users will suffer from symptoms of
fatigue and depression, irritability, tremors, jumpiness, deprivation
of deep sleep, and vascular headaches, as the blood vessels in the
brain dilate. Caffeine, however, can be medically useful as a cardiac
stimulant, and also as a mild diuretic used to flush the system.



One of the mechanisms
that caffeine addiction, cocaine addiction, and heroin addiction share,
is that they block an adenosine's ability to slow the nerve cells'
activity in preparation for sleep, and instead increase the speed of
their activity and of the neuron firing in the brain. The caffeine
causes the blood vessels in the brain to constrict, because it has
blocked the adenosine's ability to open them to allow sleep. The
ability of caffeine to close the blood vessels is why many pain
relievers contain caffeine. If a person has a vascular headache, the
caffeine in the medicine will shut down the blood vessels, thus easing
the pain.


The increased neuron
firing in the brain triggers the pituitary glands to release hormones
that tell the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline, also known as
epinephrine. Adrenaline, the "fight-or-flight" hormone, gives the
user's body a boost, and heightens the person's alertness.



One final mechanism
caffeine, cocaine, and heroin share, is their ability to manipulate
dopamine production. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, activates the
"pleasure centers" in certain parts of the brain, and simply makes a
person feel good. Naturally, the pleasurable effect produced by
dopamine manipulation plays a prominent role in caffeine addiction.



The short-term
effects resulting from caffeine consumption, such as alertness, renewed
energy, and pleasure, may not necessarily outweigh the longer-term
effects of caffeine addiction. Caffeine, despite its similarities to
amphetamines, has side effects that are not nearly as severe, and
withdrawal symptoms that are, generally, not life-threatening.

Source: coolquiz.com
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