Archive for January, 2010
It is odourless and colourless. It is a white powder with the molecular formula C8H10N4O2. This stimulant of the central nervous system is a so called psychoactive drug. Used by millions daily, this xanthine-derivative is metabolised in the human liver into paraxanthine (increasing the hydrolysis of lipids, fueling muscles), theobromine (increases urine volume and dilates blood vessels, thus increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrient flow to brain and muscles) and theophylline (relaxes muscles of bronchi, increasing heart rate and efficiency).
Speaking of stimulant, after crossing the blood–brain barrier (that separates the bloodstream from the interior of the brain), it binds to adenosine receptors on the surface of cells without activating them, acting as competitive inhibitor (preventing the binding of substrate molecules). By counteracting adenosine (supposably protecting the brain by suppressing neural activity), the cerebral blood flow is increased and thus warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness. Although, I am not sure how much is already scientifically proven.
Adenosine itself is used for energy transfers (as adenosine triphosphate ATP and adenosine diphosphate ADP) as well as signal transduction (cyclic adenosine monophosphate cAMP). Wikipedia says: “it is also an inhibitory neurotransmitter, believed to play a role in promoting sleep and suppressing arousal, with levels increasing with each hour an organism is awake.”
Where was I? Oh, I just rediscovered my old filter coffee maker. I don’t know how exactly it works, but it produces about 60 milligrams of this genial substance, also called caffeine, for each cup of coffee. I can’t imagine how I managed to survive only one day without this low technological wonder.
Enjoy up to 4 cups daily, effects from 15 minutes after to about until 4 hours later. Rock on!
BTW: not every organism is built to deal with caffeine! Respect for the scientists who tested the effect on spiders. Caffeinated spiders by NASA, published in New Scientist.