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            Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world, with over 90% of all North American adults consuming at least one caffeinated product daily. However, even with caffeine’s immense popularity, few people know how the drug truly works, or how it can harm the human body.

            Caffeine is a psychoactive drug, also known as trimethlyxanthine, and has the formula C8H10N4O2, with methyl groups bonding to the 1st, 3rd, and 7th nitrogen atoms, as seen in the picture.Caffiene As with all psychoactive drugs, Caffeine works on central nervous system in order to produce its effects, in this case, warding off drowsiness.  The specifics of the drug revolve around its targeting of adenosine receptors in the brain. In normal situations, adenosine would bond to the receptors, and would slow down cellular activity. However, the consumption of caffeine prevents this from happening, which in turn causes nerve cells to become over-stimulated and release epinephrine, also known as adrenaline. Once the adrenaline is released, blood flow to the muscles and heart rate increase, causing one to feel a sudden rush of energy (which is the cause behind a loss of drowsiness).

            The drug is found naturally in many plants, including coffee beans, cacao beans, and tea plants, and is produced as a means of defense. Any insect that tries to feed on a plant that produces caffeine will be paralyzed and killed due to the effects of the drug. But despite the common use of caffeine in nature, it’s most well known properties (energizing and preventing sleepiness) were not discovered until around 800 C.E., and the solitary caffeine molecule was not isolated until 1819.

            While the consumption of caffeine is widespread, most people fail to recognize the negative effects that the drug can bring with it, primarily that while caffeine gives the illusion of one not requiring sleep, the feeling is just that: nothing more than an illusion, and can cause people to neglect the necessary function. Furthermore, caffeine, like other psychoactive drugs can cause addiction (in this case if over 300 mg is consumed daily), and can be fatal inThe Effects of Caffeine on the Human Body quantities of over (13-19 grams). Furthermore, it can cause irritation of the skin, hallucinations, nervousness, and insomnia. These, along with many other of its effects can be seen in the above picture.


Bibliography:
http://science.howstuffworks.com/caffeine1.htm 
http://chemistry.about.com/od/moleculescompounds/a/caffeine.htm 
Both images from:  http://flaggedrevs.labs.wikimedia.org/wiki/Caffeine 


Posted by Guest  On Mar 26, 2012 at 3:33 PM 10 Comments
  
 
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