Alertness & Concentration, Coffee, Enjoyment, Health Benefits, Mental Performance, Mood

Wake Up and Smell the Trimethylxanthine

1 Comment 29 April 2010

Caffeine is known medically as trimethylxanthine; its chemical formula is C8H10N4O2. When isolated in pure form, caffeine is a white crystalline powder that tastes very bitter.

Caffeine blocks adenosine, the hormone that causes drowsiness, from doing its job in the brain. When adenosine is blocked from doing its job the nerve cells speed up. When that happens the pituitary gland gets all excited and releases hormones that tell the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline. Adrenaline is the “fight or flight” hormone, and it has a number of effects on your body:

  • Your pupils dilate.
  • Your breathing tubes open up (this is why people suffering from severe asthma attacks are sometimes injected with epinephrine).
  • Your heart beats faster.
  • Blood vessels on the surface constrict to slow blood flow from cuts and also to increase blood flow to muscles.
  • Blood pressure rises.
  • Blood flow to the stomach slows.
  • The liver releases sugar into the bloodstream for extra energy.
  • Muscles tighten up, ready for action.
  • This explains why, after consuming a big cup of coffee, your hands get cold, your muscles tense up, you feel excited and you can feel your heart beat increasing.

Caffeine also increases dopamine levels in the same way that amphetamines do. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that activates pleasure centers in certain parts of the brain. Heroin and cocaine also manipulate dopamine levels by slowing down the rate of dopamine reabsorption. Obviously, caffeine’s effect is much lower than heroin’s, but it’s the same process.

“It’s very important to remember that caffeine is a drug, and, like any drug, it’s a lot of fun.” ~Dave Barry

In short, we drink coffee because:

• Caffeine blocks adenosine reception so you feel alert.

• It injects adrenaline into the system to give you a boost. And…

• It manipulates dopamine production to make you feel good.

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