Are you having a cup of coffee while reading this? Is it your second cup? If it’s your third, you’re probably already finished reading.
I used to love coffee; quit it about 20 years ago…cold turkey. It was one of the hardest things I ever did. I had a 24 hour headache for five days. During that time I was traveling and the entire first week of caffeine free, I was seeing stars out my windshield, and it was daytime. I was hooked and drinking the stuff all day long. My stomach was killing me and I was having trouble sleeping. It made me mad that I was so addicted so I didn’t even try to “cut back.” I just quit.
I will occasionally drink an Irish coffee and my morning tea has around 30mg of caffeine; not enough to get “hooked.” A Starbucks brewed Pike Place 16oz cup has 300mg of caffeine. Mayo Clinic says anything over 500mg a day can be dangerous.
So what’s with all the powdered caffeine in “energy drinks?” The caffeine industry is now selling over 15 million pounds of powdered caffeine annually. Red Bull, Rockstar, Monster and 5-hour Energy are flying off the shelves. The FDA is now investigating 13 deaths supposedly connected to 5-hour Energy. Caffeine can be effective in allowing one to have more energy; that’s been proven in athletic and reaction time tests. In reality, caffeine doesn’t give energy, it just blocks adenosine, the neurotransmitter in our brain that tells us when we’re tired. We get a feeling of alertness and energy. The only problem is caffeine can also stop your heart; it’s powerful stuff.
I imagine people have no idea how powdered caffeine is made. Maybe they think it’s coffee beans; no, it’s mainly synthetic caffeine. It’s a very simple chemical formula (C8H10N4O2).
Most powdered caffeine comes from China (duh).
They start by extracting “Urea” from ammonia. Yeah, that’s why all powdered caffeine factories smell like cat pee. They then blend the Urea with “Methylamine.” Oh, you watch “Breaking Bad” too. Yes, that’s the stuff Walter White uses to make Crystal Meth. They then add Formic Acid. You might not have heard of that stuff but ants extract that when they are threatened. We now have a concoction called “Theophyline” which in itself is a nice stimulant. The final step is to tone it down with “Methyl Chloride” and “BAM” we have pure powdered Caffeine.
So, while your turbo-charging your brain today, go easy. In 2005, there were 1100 emergency room visits related to energy drinks. (just getting started back then) In 2009, there were 13,000.