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Good And Bad Caffeine Uses Biology Essay

Caffeine is one of the most commonly ingested drugs in the world. Ninety percent of Americans consume it daily in teas, coffee, cola-flavored carbonated beverages, chocolate products, and non-prescription drugs (http://www.topendsports.com/health/caffeine.htm). This substance can have many positive and negative effects, which take part in the legalization, illegalization, and restriction of its use in certain countries. I believe the consumption of caffeine should not be banned, but limited to age and amount. Having an age limit and a limit to the overall use of this substance is adequate because caffeine can have positive effects in low doses, but negative if abused, people who consume it are prone to being addicted, and the responsible intake of this product highly depends on the maturity of the being.

The chemical formula for caffeine is C8H10N4O2; its full chemical name is 1, 3, 7-trimethylxanthine (http://www.topendsports.com/health/caffeine.htm). Caffeine’s boiling and melting points reach 178C (352F) and 238C (460F) and holds a pH of 6.9 (http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/C0165.htm). This compound appears as a white crystalline powder when isolated from coffee since 1820 (http://coffeetea.about.com/cs/caffeine/a/caffeinefacts.htm). There

Fig. 1 (oceanexplorer) are many benefits that come from this substance and its molecular composition.

Good Human Uses:

-Caffeine is a central nervous stimulant and can have some positive effects on the human body. Caffeine in low doses is thought to be associated with an improvement in sporting performance, increased alertness and reduction in fatigue potentially lifting a person’s mood. Coffee and tea also contain some antioxidants which have positive effects on heart health.

(http://www.topendsports.com/health/caffeine.htm)

Caffeine has on the human body, the airways in the lungs are also widened slightly (this effect is known specifically as bronchodilation), enabling someone afflicted with asthma to breathe more easily. While there are more asthma-specific drugs on the market, caffeine will do if there's nothing else around.

Another use of the vasodilatation effect of caffeine can be found in headache relief; constriction of blood vessels in the brain can cause major headache pain, and caffeine relieves this pain by widening the blood vessels. For this reason, caffeine can be found in many specialized headache medicines (for example Excedrin).

Additionally, caffeine can be used to treat ADHD, a hyperactivity disorder. People with ADHD have a lowered ability to focus and a shortened attention span, and stimulants like caffeine (and Ritalin, the most frequently-used treatment for ADHD) allow for longer periods of intense concentration. Unfortunately, the side effects of caffeine make it impractical as a long term solution to most medical conditions.

While caffeine causes negative results when used in the long term, it is - like most things - safe in small amounts; when that paper has to be done by eight tomorrow morning, and there are ten pages left to write, caffeine allows for the presence of mind necessary to write a paper that won't make you wish you had gone to sleep instead of writing it at all.

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A622414)

-When released into the soil, this material may biodegrade to a moderate extent. When released into water, this material may biodegrade to a moderate extent. This material is not expected to significantly bioaccumulate. (http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/C0165.htm)

Bad Human Uses:

-Inhalation of dust may irritate the mucous membranes and respiratory tract. High concentrations may produce effects paralleling ingestion.

-Toxic. The adult mean lethal dose is approximately 10 gm. Large doses may produce palpitation, excitement, insomnia, dizziness, headache and vomiting.

-Causes irritation to skin. Symptoms include redness, itching, and pain.

-Causes irritation, redness, and pain when contacted with eyes.

-Excessive use of caffeine may lead to digestive disturbances, constipation, palpitations, shortness of breath and depressed mental states. Possible teratogen. May cause congenital malformation in the fetus. (http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/C0165.htm)

Effects:

elevated blood sugar (gives the feeling of an energy surge)

elevated blood fats

increased blood pressure

stimulated central nervous system (may cause one to override the body's call for rest)

irregular heart beat

increased urinary calcium and magnesium losses (may impact on long-term bone health)

increased stomach acid secretion (aggravates a stomach ulcer)

tremors, irritability, and nervousness

insomnia and disruption of sleep patterns

anxiety and depression

heightened symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

(http://www.vegetarian-nutrition.info/positions/english/use-of-caffeine.php)

Biological Activity:

Caffeine affects your brain mainly in two ways. First, it mimics adenosine, which slows down nerve impulses and causes drowsiness. Caffeine attaches itself to all adenosine receptors in the brain, preventing the genuine adenosine from performing its job, making your brain become more alert. It also increases the amount of dopamine in your brain, which improves a person’s disposition and pleasure. This is the main source of caffeine’s addictive properties (http://coffeetea.about.com/cs/caffeine/a/caffeinefacts.htm).

Uses as Drugs and/or Warfare Agent:

Caffeine is one of the most popular stimulants in the world. Just here in the United States, ninety percent of the residents consume it every day in different forms. It is estimated that some 450,000,000 cups of coffee are drank every day by Americans (http://www.topendsports.com/health/caffeine.htm). Caffeine is not only found in coffee, but also in chocolate products, cola-flavored beverages, carbonated beverages, tea, and non-prescription drugs such as pain relievers and stay awake pills (http://www.topendsports.com/health/caffeine.htm). This compound is also used as a temporary energy boost and for lifting a person’s mood (http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/nutrition/caffeine.html).

Legal Status and Restrictions:

The legal status of caffeine varies according to the country. Some countries, like Germany, completely ban the use of caffeine while other countries have limits to the legal use of this compound and many other openly allow the use of caffeine, including the United States. Federally, this substance is legal and unregulated and it is sold in various forms including beverages, sweets, and non-prescription drugs. This legal status on caffeine also applies to the state of California (http://www.erowid.org/chemicals/caffeine/caffeine_law.shtml).

Recommended Legal Status and Restrictions:

I believe the legal status of caffeine should be limited to small amounts and certain ages, but not prohibited. Caffeine can have positive effects on the human body being a central nervous stimulant. In low doses, it is believed to be involved with an improvement in sporting performance, better alertness and diminution in fatigue, likely to lift a person’s mood. Antioxidants are found in coffee and tea too, which have positive effects on heart health

(http://www.topendsports.com/health/caffeine.htm). Caffeine also helps expand the airways in the lungs, facilitating the process of breathing for someone inflicted with asthmatic problems. Along with the airways in the lungs, this compound also helps widen blood vessels, relieving the troubles of headaches. Patients diagnosed with ADHD can be treated with caffeine which will allow a longer time spam of intense concentration. Overall, caffeine can be very useful in those occasional moments where some sort of stimulant is needed to combat drowsiness in order to complete a task or remain alert (http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A622414). According to the J.T Baker Material Safety Data Sheet, “Excessive use of caffeine may lead to digestive disturbances, constipation, palpitations, shortness of breath and depressed mental states. Possible teratogen. May cause congenital malformation in the fetus…The adult mean lethal dose is approximately 10 gm. Large doses may produce palpitation, excitement, insomnia, dizziness, headache and vomiting.” (http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/C0165.htm). It is also important to consider a limit to the use of caffeine and an age limit because caffeine is considered an addictive substance, meaning that a prolonged and early exposure to caffeine could cause addiction and dependency in young lives and people. Caffeine increases the levels of dopamine in your brain, a substance that improves your disposition and your temper, contributing to the addictive process of caffeine (http://coffeetea.about.com/cs/caffeine/a/caffeinefacts.htm). Reducing the amounts of intake of caffeine may help reduce the chance of addiction within society. Also, people in their early stages of life should be prohibited to this substance. “A recent National Institutes of Health (NIH) study suggests that a region that is part of the circuitry that inhibits risky behavior (the orbitofrontal cortex) is not fully formed until age 25…” (http://www.sfn.org/index.cfm/index.aspx?pagename=neuroscienceQuarterly_05spring_message). A young brain isn’t mature enough to fully understand the effects and consequences of caffeine, therefore, the early exposure of such drug could make the being dependant on the drug and it could also have many negative effects on the user if abused.

Conclusion:

As previously stated, the use of caffeine should have an age limit, a use limit, but it shouldn’t be fully prohibited. The use of this compound could bring many negative effects, but if used correctly and responsibly, one could bring out the best of the substance. These restrictions don’t apply, of course, to prescribed medicine or any such, and the limits may vary depending on whether the caffeine is in its pure form, or not. But either way, it is adequate to take careful measures when handling caffeine and not at any moment should it be underestimated.


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