For many of us a morning without coffee or tea is a like the proverbial day without sunshine. For me much of it is about the ritual. Okay, who am I kidding? It’s about the caffeine. Mmm, I love caffeine–that naturally occurring alkaloid found in the leaves, seeds and fruits of more than 63 plant species worldwide. But at what risk do I indulge in my morning coffee and afternoon espresso?
Caffeine is most famous for its role as a stimulant and it’s ability to delay fatigue. I clearly get a boost of energy and clarity, as had been scientifically proven. But caffeine has also acquired a bad-boy reputation–an unfair one, perhaps? Extensive studies into its safety show that there are still many misconceptions about caffeine. Allow me to tackle some of the myths surrounding my beloved alkaloid.
Myth No. 1: Caffeine is addictive
Facts: Well, this depends on what you consider “addictive.” Caffeine is a stimulant to the central nervous system, and regular use of caffeine might cause mild physical dependence–but caffeine doesn’t affect your life the way addictive drugs do, and thus most experts don’t consider caffeine dependence an addiction, per se. When regular caffeine consumption is quickly halted, some of us experience symptoms that last from one to several days–this can be avoided if caffeine consumption is reduced slowly.
If you try to stop cold turkey, you may experience one or more of these symptoms:
Next: Myth No. 2