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Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and the active ingredient in coffee.[1][2][3] For most healthy people, it is not harmful to consume up to 400mg of caffeine a day.[3][4]

Uses[edit | edit source]

Caffeine occurs naturally in coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate, guarana, and many other plants, foods and drinks.[2][3] Caffeine can also be taken as a supplement and may be added to other food or drinks, especially energy drinks.[4]

Caffeine is typically used for:

Energy drinks[edit | edit source]

Drinks marketed as energy drinks or sometimes sports drinks typically contain a number of different stimulants, including:

Energy drink brands include such as Spike Shooter, Pimp Juice, Red Bull, and Cocaine. [5]

Caffeine powder[edit | edit source]

The FDA has issued a warning against the use of caffeine powder, which can provide 1200mg of caffine per 0.15 tablespoons of pure caffeine, this is three times the suggested safe daily limit and a level high enough to cause toxic effects, including seizures.[4]

Theory[edit | edit source]

Evidence[edit | edit source]

Perscription drugs[edit | edit source]

Caffeine is FDA-approved for:

  • migraine and tension-type headaches, when combined pain relief drugs
  • Preventing headaches after surgery (for people who regularly consume caffeine)
  • Caffeine citrate is approved for pauses in breathing that may be followed by low heart rate and low oxygen levels in newborns.

ME/CFS[edit | edit source]

Many people with ME/CFS use caffeine to improve mental alertness or concentration or to reduce fatigue in the short term, but the 2014 International Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis primer cautions against excessive usage due to the risk of tachycardia and agitation.[6] Consuming caffeine in the afternoon or evening is also advised against for ME/CFS patients due to the likelihood of it causing or contributing to insomnia.[6] Adolescents and children with ME/CFS are advised to limit the use of caffeine for concentration/attention to times when it is particularly important, such as for exams, and to be aware of the caffeine found in energy drinks.[7]

Risks and side effects[edit | edit source]

For most adults, a limit of 400mg of caffeine daily is likely to be safe, although this may not necessarily be safe long term.[3][4] Just four cups of brewed coffee, ten cans of cola or two typical energy shot drinks provide the maximum recommended amount of 400mg of caffeine.[3] Caffeine sensitivity varies greatly between people so some people will experience harmful effects at much lower doses.[4]

High doses[edit | edit source]

Large doses of caffeine can cause serious adverse reactions, including even fatalities resulting from excessive consumption, especially in the form of "energy" drinks or caffeine powder.[4][5][8][2][3]

Caffeine is mildly addictive, but other substances found in energy drinks are more addictive.[8] Caffeine withdrawal is not considered dangerous.

Excessive caffeine intake causes:

Interactions[edit | edit source]

Caffeine may interact with certain perscription drugs or other supplements, particularly:

  • Ephedrine, which is used in decongestants
  • Theophylline, a medication used to open up bronchial airways.
  • Echinacea, a herbal supplement sometimes used to prevent colds or other infections[3]

Costs and availability[edit | edit source]

Very widely available and inexpensive.

Notable studies[edit | edit source]

  • 2015, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor concentration may not be depressed in chronic fatigue syndrome[9] - (Abstract)

See also[edit | edit source]

Learn more[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.01.1 "Caffeine". MedlinePlus. Retrieved May 23, 2022.
  2. "CAFFEINE: Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, Dosing and Reviews". WebMD. Retrieved May 23, 2022.
  3. "Caffeine: How much is too much?". Mayo Clinic. Retrieved May 23, 2022.
  4. Office of the Commissioner (December 2, 2021). "Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine is Too Much?". Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved May 23, 2022.
  5. Clauson, Kevin A.; Shields, Kelly M.; McQueen, Cydney E.; Persad, Nikki (May 1, 2008). "Safety issues associated with commercially available energy drinks". Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. 48 (3): e55–e67. doi:10.1331/JAPhA.2008.07055. ISSN 1544-3191.
  6. 6.06.1 International Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / Myalgic Encephalomyelitis; Friedberg, Fred; Bateman, Lucinda; Bested, Alison C; Davenport, Todd; Friedman, Kenneth J; Gurwitt, Alan R; Jason, Leonard A; Lapp, Charles W; Stevens, Staci R; Underhill, Rosemary A; Vallings, Rosamund (2014), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Primer for Clinical Practitioners (PDF), Chicago, USA: International Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
  7. Rowe, Peter C.; Underhill, Rosemary A.; Friedman, Kenneth J.; Gurwitt, Alan; Medow, Marvin S.; Schwartz, Malcolm S.; Speight, Nigel; Stewart, Julian M.; Vallings, Rosamund; Rowe, Katherine S. (2017). "Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Diagnosis and Management in Young People: A Primer". Frontiers in Pediatrics. 5: 121. doi:10.3389/fped.2017.00121.
  8. 8.08.1 Calabrò, Rocco S.; Naro, Antonino; Bramanti, Placido (2016). "Chapter 72 - Caffeine and Taurine and Energy Drink Abuse". In Preedy, Victor R. (ed.). Neuropathology of Drug Addictions and Substance Misuse. 3. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 723–732. ISBN 978-0-12-800634-4.
  9. Patrick, David M.; Miller, Ruth R.; Steiner, Theodore; Gardy, Jennifer L.; Parker, Shoshana M.; Tang, Patrick (April 3, 2015). "Brain-derived neurotrophic factor concentration may not be depressed in chronic fatigue syndrome". Fatigue: Biomedicine, Health & Behavior. 3 (2): 122–125. doi:10.1080/21641846.2015.1024004. ISSN 2164-1846.

central nervous system (CNS) - One of the two parts of the human nervous system, the other part being the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord, while the peripheral nervous system consists of nerves that travel from the central nervous system into the various organs and tissues of the body.

adverse reaction Any unintended or unwanted response to a treatment, whether in a clinical trial or licensed treatment. May be minor or serious.

adverse reaction Any unintended or unwanted response to a treatment, whether in a clinical trial or licensed treatment. May be minor or serious.

myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.) - A disease often marked by neurological symptoms, but fatigue is sometimes a symptom as well. Some diagnostic criteria distinguish it from chronic fatigue syndrome, while other diagnostic criteria consider it to be a synonym for chronic fatigue syndrome. A defining characteristic of ME is post-exertional malaise (PEM), or post-exertional neuroimmune exhaustion (PENE), which is a notable exacerbation of symptoms brought on by small exertions. PEM can last for days or weeks. Symptoms can include cognitive impairments, muscle pain (myalgia), trouble remaining upright (orthostatic intolerance), sleep abnormalities, and gastro-intestinal impairments, among others. An estimated 25% of those suffering from ME are housebound or bedbound. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies ME as a neurological disease.

The information provided at this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness.
From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history.