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Caffeine Confounds: A Need or Want
Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Only actions give life strength;
only moderation gives it charm.
-Jean Paul

Are we fueled by our needs or wants in life?  Perhaps both.  For example, I know I want to start my morning ritual with a warm cup of tea or coffee as I sit down to work at my desk.  I may even need my morning 8 ounce cup of tea with its 40 mg of caffeine (which increases the longer I brew it) or the 85 mg of caffeine if I drink an 8 oz cup of brewed drip coffee.

In today’s market we have so many different caffeine options.  There are products like Chai Milk Chocolate made by Theo Chocolate who in an “artistry” fashion blend black tea and organic cocoa for caffeine enjoyment.  Caribou Coffee tops every espresso drink with a chocolate covered coffee bean just for good measure.  Thank you and don’t forget to chew your caffeine.

Globally consumed & FDA approved, caffeine is a “generally recognized as safe“, mood-altering, habit-forming drug that many swear they need to function.  Ummm…..so is it good for you?  You be the judge of that…

Caffeine is the oldest known stimulant to mankind.  The discovery of the Arabic coffee bean lead to caffeine being labeled.  Caffeine means “that which comes from coffee.”  As time has progressed we have learned that caffeine, a psychoactive drug which stimulates the central nervous system is a natural chemical found in varying amounts in the seeds, leaves and fruit of about 60 different plants besides the coffee bean.

The Chinese were one of the first cultures to consume caffeinated beverages as early as 2737 B.C. with the discovery of tea.  It is professed that Lao Tzu recommended tea for his new disciples.  Maybe he knew that his disciples would be more alert when they had moderate amounts of caffeine (about 7 cups of tea) in their blood system and would document all his great words of wisdom.  Quotes like:

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.

– Lao Tzu

Which is good advice if we want to progress and grow to our full potential.  Potential of even knowing do we desire our caffeine consumption to be moderate so that we can possibly experience some of the documented benefits like:

* Enhanced alertness

* Improved physical endurance

* Enhanced mental abilities – may reason better  (with kids too I hope)

Or perhaps we choose to consume heavy amounts of caffeine like 4 to 7 cups of regular coffee and get our our 500-600 mg of caffeine per day.  In their quest to be more alert some people taking in that much may experience the dark side of caffeine such anxiety, tension, jitteriness and even panic attacks.

Caffeine’s effects really do vary person to person and the dose that you tolerate depends on factors like body weight, genes, amount of caffeine, frequency, and even when you consume your favorite caffeinated food or beverage.

If caffeine doesn’t make you feel good and you are part of that small percentage of folks genetically sensitive to even moderate intakes of caffeine (200-300 mg) then it may make sense to not consume it at all or nominally.

Whatever form of caffeine you prefer: coffee, tea, soda (including diet) or chocolate to name a few favorites; it is up to each of us to find our own tolerance of caffeine.  Is caffeine a need you want to cultivate and/or part of a desired ritual you wish to continue?

What is Caffeine to You – a Need, Desire or Both?

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