What is caffeine?
How to remove caffeine from the body
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a drug that stimulates the brain and nervous system, increasing the levels of chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline in the blood. It is the most widely-used mind-altering drug on earth.
Caffeine is naturally found in the leaves and fruits of several plants. The richest plant sources of caffeine are coffee, black tea and chocolate (cacao). It is also in green tea and cocoa. Caffeine is added to many soft drinks, colas and energy drinks, sometimes at very high levels. It may also be in chocolate bars, energy bars and some non-prescription medications, such as cough syrup and slimming tablets. Guarana (a popular additive in energy drinks) is also a natural source of caffeine.
Some people get the jitters from caffeine, others seem little affected and use a lot of caffeine every day to enjoy its benefits.
In small doses, caffeine can make you feel refreshed and focused. In large doses, caffeine can make you feel anxious and have difficulty sleeping. The dose level can vary widely for different people, depending upon the general state of health, adaptation to caffeine, and genetic aspects of the liver.
Like many other drugs, it is possible to develop a tolerance to caffeine, which means you need bigger and bigger doses to achieve the same effect.
Pregnant women, children and athletes and should limit their caffeine intake.
Caffeine does not give you more energy. However, it does help you to stay awake, focus, memorise and stay alert, as described below.
Caffeine is well absorbed by the body, and the short-term effects such as increased breathing and heart rate, and increased mental alertness and physical energy, are usually experienced between 5 and 30 minutes after taking it. Depending on the individual, these effects can last from up to 12 hours. Caffeine typically has a half-life in the body of 4 - 6 hours.
Daily moderate consumption of tea or coffee has many benefits.
- Dementia. Lower risk of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and other brain degeneration.
- Heart disease and stroke - lower risk. This comes from moderate and regular consumption of caffeine by those who are not strongly and negarively affected by it. Regular consumption of tea or coffee is beneficial in this respect.
- Skin cancer and sun protection. It now appears that the caffeine in your morning cuppa can protect against skin cancer. Scientists have known for a long time that caffeine protects several animals against certain types of skin cancers. But this study (1) has found that caffeine protects humans too. The researchers first bathed human skin cells in a lab dish in caffeine. Then they exposed the cells to UVB radiation. The caffeine not only blocked two key mechanisms that trigger the birth of skin tumours, but also caused the death (apoptosis) of UVB-damaged skin cells that might otherwise turn cancerous. If you are unable to drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages because you get the jitters from them, or they keep you awake, then you can get the same protection by putting caffeine on your skin. A few sunscreen manufacturers are now adding caffeine to their products, and that is a good move. However, I do not generally recommend the use of sunscreens - why I don't use sunscreens. More research is still needed to confirm whether caffeine in sunscreens will protect as well as it did in the petri dish.
- Diabetes protection.
- Gallstones reduced.
- Liver protection and healing. Reduced risk of fatty liver and liver fibrosis. Liver enzymes are improved.
- Cognitive benefits. Caffeine alters body chemistry to make you less sleepy. The caffeine molecule is similar to the adenosine molecule, which increases the need for sleep and helps you to sleep. Caffeine locks into adenosine receptors, inhibiting sleep.
Caffeine stimulates another compound called acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter which assists with cognition, alertness, attention and memory.
Noradrenaline is yet another compound stimulated by caffeine. Noradrenaline assists with learning, attention and being awake.
- Coffee with butter, coconut oil or cream added assists getting into ketosis when ketogenic fasting.
These negative symptoms vary depending on the person. Some people are hardly affected, others have little tolerance for caffeine.
- Anxiety, panic attack, mood swings, depression.
- Hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Adrenal exhaustion and depletion.
- Cholesterol profile worsened.
- Arrhythmia of the heart or rapid pulse.
- Cortisol elevated.
- Vitamin B1 depleted / decreased.
- Diuretic causing frequent urination and loss of fluid.
- Digestive problems.
- Insomnia, especially from a caffeine fix late in the day.
- Neck and jaw tension, teeth grinding.
- Headaches, especially if addicted to caffeine and not getting the expected dose.
How to remove caffeine from the body
Remember that caffeine typically has a half-life of 4 - 6 hours in the body. This is what you can do to reduce the half life.
The ability to clear caffeine from the body varies between different people by up to forty times. This is largely dependent upon some genetic aspects of the liver. If you are suffering from the negative effects of caffeine, here are a few things you can do.
- Exercise - the heavier the better.
- Drink water - but not to excess.
- Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
- Celery, parsley.
1. Han W., Ming M., He Y.Y.
Caffeine promotes ultraviolet B-induced apoptosis in human keratinocytes without complete DNA repair.
J Biol Chem. 2011 Jul 1;286(26):22825-32.