5 Reasons Caffeine is a Miracle Drug
And It Just Might Save Your Life
You'd be hard pressed to find something tasty and popular in the drink aisle that isn't stuffed to the gills with caffeine. Sodas like Mountain Dew and Coca Cola (in their near infinite varieties) have their fair share of this stimulant, and it can be found in larger doses in energy drinks like Monster or Red Bull, which have carved out their own share of the drink market. Even tea and coffee, two of the most popular drinks in the world, have caffeine in them. It should be noted that while the world of cubicles and office work would no doubt grind to a halt without caffeine, science has proven that caffeine can be used as a medicine as well as a quick pick me up.
It's doing more than you may think once it's in your system, though. So pour yourself a fresh cup, and let's all get a bit wide-eyed, shall we?
Also, if you enjoy this article and you're interested in other pieces of trivia such as 9 Superpowers Your Cat Has or Where Did The Names For The Days of The Week Come From? then you should definitely take a moment to stop by my full Vocal archive and take a look around!
#1: An Age-Old Headache Cure
The most basic thing caffeine is used for is a headache cure, especially headaches resulting from hangovers. For those who don't know, the reason your head hurts when you have a hangover is often because the blood vessels in your head have swollen, causing pain and pressure. When you drink caffeine to counter the problem, the stimulant narrows your blood vessels, removing pressure in the area according to Web MD. If you combine caffeine with aspirin, which is essentially what many over-the-counter medications do, you're creating a headache cure on steroids. Not literally of course... that effect would be something else entirely.
It's not just hangover headaches, either. From run-of-the-mill tension headaches all the way up to brain-blasting migraines, caffeine can reduce the amount of pain someone feels, and help someone get through the worst of a flare-up. It is a bit of a double-edged sword, though, because if you're used to having a lot of caffeine in your system, then its sudden absence can result in some pretty serious headaches all on its own. So, as with anything else, use responsibly.
#2: Caffeine is a Viable Treatment For Asthma and ADHD
Caffeine has been shown to work as a treatment for ADHD, according to 5 Ways Your Bad Habits Might Just Save Your Life. That condition, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder for those who don't recognize the acronym, is the technical term for those children and adults who are often unable to focus their energy towards a single task of their own choosing. ADHD medications like Adderall have often been called nothing more than cheap speed because they are especially powerful stimulants received over the counter. The nervous receptors in the body where this condition is present treats them differently, though, creating a calming effect instead of giving the user more energy. In many cases caffeine has been used instead as a gentler, less expensive stimulant to help those with ADHD control their symptoms. Some scientists have even suggested that the continued use of caffeine into adulthood is responsible for many situations where symptoms lessen and go away as individuals with ADHD age.
While we're on the subject of illnesses often associated with childhood, caffeine has also proved a viable treatment for asthma. Asthma is a lifelong disease, but it only becomes really inconvenient when the airways contract and the sufferer can't breathe. Most people refer to this as an asthma attack, though people on the receiving end may refer to it as a near death experience. One of the drugs used to help control asthma is theophylline, and it's the first cousin of caffeine. As such, more mild asthma attacks can be controlled with a popped top of soda, or even more mild medication that has caffeine as a main component.
#3: The Best Battlefield Stimulant There Is
Battlefield drugs are nothing new, and from the suspected psychedelics used by ancient berserkers, to the amphetamines commonly deployed during the second World War, warriors are used to pumping themselves up with some kind of painkilling performance enhancer to turn themselves into super soldiers.
So what is the most common drug used by the U.S. Navy Seals, one of the most elite military units in the world? Well, according to 7 Scientific Ways Coffee Gives You Super Powers, it's caffeine.
After being forced to remain awake and train for 3 days, Navy Seals given 200 milligrams of caffeine were noticeably more awake, shot straighter, and performed better on a variety of tasks. Not only that, but caffeine is more readily available, has fewer negative side effects, and causes fewer problems than even top-grad amphetamines. Even if the results might not seem as spectacular on the surface, they're more reliable, and trusted to get the job done.
#4: Caffeine Helps You Think More Clearly
Our brains are complicated engines, and caffeine is a NOS unit that can let us surge hard for short periods of time. As the video above states, the longer you're awake, the more your brain produces the neurotransmitter adenosine. As it binds to the receptors in your brain, it makes you tired, unbinding while you're asleep. It's part of our normal, daily cycle.
However, caffeine is similar enough to pass for adenosine, and it blocks the receptors, stopping their neurotransmitter from powering you down. This allows you to keep thinking clearly, without fighting off the effects of the lead weights making it harder to keep your brain going. It also keeps dopamine in your system longer, increasing your mood in a way that's similar to cocaine, and it can stimulate the production of adrenaline.
If you needed a cup full of something to get you one step closer to Batman, well, make sure it's highly caffeinated.
#5: Caffeine Can Fight Cancer
Though not last on the list of achievements, caffeine has also been used to try and help those fighting cancer. In the spirit of throwing science at the wall and seeing what sticks, researchers introduced caffeine into treatments for cancer according to Cracked. In the lab, caffeine inhibited cancer cells from dividing (which is kind of their whole deal), and patients who were under the effects of the stimulant showed better progress and results during radiation therapy and anti-tumor drugs overall.
Keep in mind that this isn't some exotic sort of coffee only found in magical groves on Ecuadorian mountaintops that we're talking about. Just your run-of-the-mill cup of brown joy from Folgers you can buy at the super market.
So go ahead, pour yourself another cup. It will help a lot more than it hurts.
Neal Litherland is an author, freelance blogger, and RPG designer. A regular on the Chicago convention circuit, he works in a variety of genres.