Caffeine

caffeine (kăfēn´), odorless, slightly bitter alkaloid found in coffee, tea, kola nuts (see cola), ilex plants (the source of the Latin American drink maté), and, in small amounts, in cocoa (see cacao). It can also be prepared synthetically from uric acid. While relatively harmless, it is the most commonly used mind-altering drug in the world. When used in moderation, caffeine acts as a mild stimulant to the nervous system, blocking the neurotransmitter adenosine and resulting in a feeling of well-being and alertness. It increases the heart rate, blood pressure, and urination and stimulates secretion of stomach acids; excessive intake can result in restlessness, insomnia, and heart irregularities. The effects of caffeine vary from person to person, as people excrete it at different rates. Physical dependence and unpleasant symptoms upon withdrawal (headache, fatigue, depression) are common in regular caffeine users.

See B. A Weinberg and B. K. Bealer, The World of Caffeine (2001).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug
Bennett Alan Weinberg; Bonnie K. Bealer.
Routledge, 2002
Coffee, Tea, Chocolate, and the Brain
Astrid Nehlig.
CRC Press, 2004
The Cultural History of Plants
Ghillean Prance; Mark Nesbitt.
Routledge, 2005
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Caffeine, Alcohol, and Sweeteners"
The Effects of Signal Salience and Caffeine on Performance, Workload, and Stress in an Abbreviated Vigilance Task
Temple, Jon G.; Warm, Joel S.; Dember, William N.; Jones, Keith S.; LaGrange, Constance M.; Matthews, Gerald.
Human Factors, Vol. 42, No. 2, Summer 2000
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Essence of Commodification: Caffeine Dependencies in the Early Modern World
Jamieson, Ross W.
Journal of Social History, Vol. 35, No. 2, Winter 2001
Environment and Behavior
Donald M. Baer; Elsie M. Pinkston.
Westview Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 16 "Caffeine as a Model Drug of Abuse for the Development of Sensitive Behavioral Measures"
Engineering Psychophysiology: Issues and Applications
Richard W. Backs; Wolfram Boucsein.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "The Effect of Naps and Caffeine on Alertness during Sleep Loss and Nocturnal Periods"
Caffeine Consumption and Disability: Clinical Issues in Rehabilitation
Ochs, Lisa A.; Holmes, Gary E.; Karst, Ronald H.
The Journal of Rehabilitation, Vol. 58, No. 3, July-September 1992
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Biofeedback: A Practitioner's Guide
Mark S. Schwartz; Frank Andrasik.
Guilford Press, 2003
Librarian’s tip: "Caffeine" begins on p. 192
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