Do you have your tea, or coffee, or chocolate, or Super Mocha Java with an extra shot of espresso ready? Good.
For this caffeine post, I have to reiterate my disclaimer. I am not going to persuade you to stop drinking caffeinated beverages, or to start drinking them. Your choice. Even if it's Taster's Choice. Ew.
Ah, caffeine. The legal drug of the masses.
What is it? It's 1,3,7-trimethyl-1H-purine-2,6(3H,7H)-dione, of course. But who has time to say that at the drive-thru window at Starbucks? "NEED JOE" is a more economical use of syllables.
Where is it found naturally? Lots of plants, including the coffee, tea, and cacao plants, kola nuts, guarana, and yerba mate, among others.
Who drinks it? 90% of adults in the world consume some form of caffeine every day. Given our world population, that's...6.3 BILLION people a day.
For the sake of ridiculous visualizations, what volume of beverage is that? About 800 million gallons. Give or take a few gallons. (When I did that calculation, I was like, whoa! That's like Lake Superior sized, right? But no, Lake Superior is three QUADRILLION gallons. Wow. That would be a lot of coffee.)
What happens if spiders are fed caffeine? I'm SO glad you asked! This is what happens.
What does caffeine do to you, right after you drink a shot of espresso? You all probably know the answer to this one already. It can increase mental alertness, mental focus, physical endurance, may cause insomnia, increased bathroom trips (for #1 and #2).
What if you really, really overdo it? Most people drink an average of two cups of coffee a day. That's about 200-250 mg of caffeine a day. People who suddenly drink a lot more than their usual amount can suffer from caffeinism. Symptoms include heart palpitations (the sensation that your heart is pounding or going fast--even causing abnormal arrhythmias), nervousness, insomnia, stomach upset and diarrhea, headaches, and irritability. It also results in excessive whole-body bouncing. Okay, that last one may only happen to me.
And if you suddenly stop drinking coffee after being a regular drinker? Headaches, nausea, fatigue, body pain and difficulty concentrating. Not fun.
Can caffeine kill you? Yes. (I hear a collective gasp of FEAR.) But you'd have to drink about 100 cups of coffee to overdose. Cases of fatal caffeine consumption usually occur after overdosing on caffeine pills. Death is often caused by a fatal heart arrhythmia.
Can caffeine save your life? Possibly. It's been associated with a decreased risk of Parkinson's disease, decreased deaths due to heart problems, decreased diabetes risk, and decreased risk of colorectal cancer and certain types of liver disease.
But? You knew there was a but! There's always a but. The data for other cancers is not definitive, and there may be an increase risk of osteoporosis with caffeine consumption.
I don't like coffee or tea or chocolate, and my lips are dry. Any ideas? There is something called SpazzStick, which is caffeinated lip balm. There you go.
If you've got a fictional medical question, let me know! Post below or email me at
All I ask is that you become a follower and post a link on your blog when I post your answer. This is for fictional scenarios, only. Please check out the boring but necessary disclaimer on my sidebar --> Also, don't forget to stop by Laura Diamond's Mental Health Mondays and Sarah Fine's The Strangest Situation for great psychiatric and psychological viewpoints on all things literary. :)