by Cody Boehm

​​​The History and Basics of Caffeine

​Caffeine can be traced to plants and beans (cocoa, coffee, other) for thousands of years. This stimulant was originally found in Ethiopia and is one of the most sought after substances on the face of the earth.  Why is that?  Because humans love their caffeine.  Scientists began to research this water soluble crystalline compound sometime within the 1820s, and learned to extract the substance from coffee beans, leaves, and various plants. 

The focus of my Real World Chemistry Project will looking specifically the the effects it has on the chemistry of the human body.

Why is this important? Because over half of the population over the age of 18 consume caffeine beverages like coffee every single day!  We need to know what this does to our brain and our body.  (  

Let's take a very topical peek at the effects caffeine has on our bodies.

The Good:

Caffeine, by stimulating the central nervous system, has been known to have many benefits to humans:

  • Increases focus
  • Increased body coordination
  • Increases alertness and stamina
  • Increases memory
  • Detoxes the liver and colon
  • ​Increases muscle recuperation after exercise when coupled with carbohydrates


The Bad:

Considering that many people and scientists refer to caffeine as a drug, one could assume that there are side effects to offset the above benefits:

  • ​According to the Mayo Clinic, more than 4 cups of caffeinated coffee has a 21% increase in "all-cause mortality" (citation below)
  • ​Caffeine has been linked to higher blood pressure than those who do not consume caffeine
  • Caffeine has been linked to increased anxiety and depression.
  • Caffeine (or the lack thereof) has been linked to headaches because of the dilation of blood vessels in the brain

The Ugly:

There have been stories over time, rare albeit extremely tragic, where caffeine "overdose" has been found to be the cause of death.  Doctors explain that the very uncommon event is due an almost perfect combination of events and often an underlying medical condition. Sometimes, however, it appears to be a 'perfect storm' of contributing factors that lead to a sad fatality.  One should be aware of their caffeine intake and, like all things, should keep consumption within moderation.  

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