ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Caffeine - The Pros and a Few of the Cons

Updated on May 22, 2009
RGraf profile image

Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

Coffee beans

Do You Really Know?

Caffeine is a part of everyone’s lives. We drink it and eat and even when we don’t realize it. In fact it is so much a part of our lives that we ignore it and take it for granted. You drink it daily. You can’t get enough of it. But do you really know what caffeine is?

Where Or Where Does It Come From?

The bitter taste in coffee and tea comes from the caffeine. It is one of the most common and legal stimulants that you can get in almost anything. In fact 9 out of 10 people take in caffeine on a regular basis. It is found naturally in coffee plants, tea plants, cocoa, and guarana (over 50 plants to be more accurate). Nature uses this chemical in plants to act as a pesticide. In fact some insects will die from eating what we consume each day.

Caffeine was first discovered, or nailed down, by a German chemist named Friedrick Runge in 1819. It was originally made popular in Asia and the Middle East as far back as the Stone Age where humans were known to chew on the leaves and bark of caffeine producing plants. The art of drinking it as coffee began as early as the ninth century in Egypt and spread throughout the Middle East . It quickly became popular. The first coffee cafés have been discovered as early as 1600’s in the Mediterranean area. Starbucks was not the first, I’m sorry! Since these beginnings, coffee production has spread across the Asian and African continents and taken a firm hold in the Americas. There are hundreds of varieties today to choose from.

Tea also contains caffeine and is almost as popular as coffee, maybe even more so in other parts of the world. Tea began its life in China and Asia quickly fell in love with tea. It has been used as medicine and as part of religious ceremonies. Today, you can find tea produced in Asia and parts of the Middle East.

When you mention consuming caffeine, coffee is the first item thought of. But in reality tea has more caffeine in it. That is, until it is brewed which dilutes the caffeine and then allows coffee to race to first place for percentage of caffeine consumed. The amount of caffeine in each coffee bean varies. The darker the bean, the more caffeine it contains. You also can get your caffeine on a regular basis through sodas and energy drinks which have sky-rocketed in sales over the last few years. More and more teens and young adults are drinking them. Therefore, more and more young people are absorbing this stimulant.


Oh, Those Side Effects

If so many of us take this in, what harm could it possibly do? First of all, let us note that anything taken in excess can be dangerous (that includes vitamin C). But caffeine can have a much more direct impact with much less consumption.

Too much caffeine can cause

  • Nervousness
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Shakes
  • Ulcers
  • Stomach Issues

Though in fact many people seek out the drug for these side effects. What college student has not filled themselves with coffee, cola, or energy drink to stay awake to study for the big exams? When we need to get through the day or night without falling asleep, what do we reach for? CAFFEINE. It stimulates the brain and the entire central nervous system and research has shown that does improve memory temporarily. (This is not to be used as a reason to consume unlimited amounts of java.)

But as previously noted, too much can be harmful. In an “overdose” you can begin to experience chronic depression, hallucinations, and manic mood swings. During a pregnancy, too much caffeine can cause birth defects. Many take this mean that any caffeine in the system will harm the unborn child, but no research has shown that. Only excessive amounts (say 4 pots of coffee a day) regularly will hurt the child.

How Do You Get Your Caffeine Each Day?

See results

Coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks have become a regular part of our daily lives. Many of us crave it before even attempting to speak to another human being. We cannot go through our day with a cup in our hands. In fact, caffeine might be the most addicted to drug in the world.

Is it justified to stop consuming caffeine? Is the fact that it is made naturally and there for the taking make it alright to consume? Or should we look beyond the temptation of getting an energy push naturally and seek other methods? Too many questions. I’ll have to have a cup of joe and let you know about that later.

How Much Caffeine Drinks Do You Consume Each Day?

See results

Coffee Table Material


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • relawshe profile image

      Rachel L 8 years ago from Seattle, WA


      What a nice hub about caffeine! I have read several studies (like in Runner's World & Women's Health magazine, for example), about how coffee & tea (with caffeine) actually have antioxidants that help ease inflammation in your body & destroy "free radicals", those damaged cells that lead to cancer in our bodies. Green tea apparently has the most beneficial antioxidants, followed closely by coffee beans.

      I agree (and appreciate you warning folks) about the dangers of ingesting too much caffeine, but would also like to see you do some research about the recently found benefits of tea & coffee.

      I drink one mocha a day (usually), but that's as far as I go. I am trying to get acquainted with green tea as well, but tea is an acquired taste that I have not yet acquired. But it's supposedly great for you; so I'm gonna try!

      Thanks again for such a great, informative hub (I had no idea that nature uses caffeine as a natural pesticide!) and thanks a million for reading so many of my hubs! Hope I can continue to return the favor! :)

    • brad4l profile image

      brad4l 8 years ago from USA

      I am going to try to wean myself off of coffee a little bit, because I do drink way too much coffee. It just tastes so good and is a great way, for me anyway, to start my morning. I am drinking a cup right now ;)

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Good stuff! I do drink a lot of coffee. This Hub is informative and well put together. Thanks.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

      No, not part of the basic food groups. Healthy could be argued, but...........

    • mfinney profile image

      mfinney 8 years ago from Wisconsin

      What? This isn't a part of the basic food groups? It isn't healthy? Well I've had misinformation (heehee). How much do I drink? Well all I have to say is Juan Valdez and his mule send me Christmas cards each year. There's a section of Colombia named after me. Great article!

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

      I agree. When I was younger I could put away a case of coke and it would not affect me. I now drink coffee only when I can't seem to wake up in the morning. I don't have to have it and was never addicted, but I know many that are. It can be dangerous, but like with everything each person has to evaluate the effects on them and as you pointed out when following a fad potential side effects are ignored.

    • RiaMorrison profile image

      Ria Bridges 8 years ago from Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

      I used to consume a whole load of caffeine when I was younger. I once swallowed a few caffeine pills and chased them down with an energy drink. I lived for Pepsi. I actually ended up with a caffeine addiction, something that most people wouldn't take very seriously but that has actually caused a good deal of harm. Because of it, I'm now quite sensitive to caffeine. Drinking a small bottle of cola can actually give me heart palpitations. And if I have one, it's almost an unconscious reflex to have another. I drink cola one night to stay awake at work, and the next day when I'm thirsty, I get another bottle without thinking about it. My reflex, after even a small amount, makes me want more without even being aware that I'm wanting it.

      Too much caffeine now also seriously screws up my stomach and makes me sick. If I have caffeine, it's usually in a cup of tea or hot chocolate, and I don't even have those very often anymore. (I primarily drink herbal teas nowadays, partly for that reason.)

      Too much caffeine in young people has also been linked to serious mood swings, I believe. While it's not dangerous for the most part, it's definitely something that more parents, at least, ought to pay closer attention to, especially when it's so easy for a kid to walk into a convenience store and come out with a large can of energy drink, caffeine-loaded mints, gum, and chocolate bars. Caffeine has become something of a potentially dangerous fad!