The January ’05 issue of National Geographic has a great cover story: Why We Love Caffeine. It’s kind of a “this is your brain, this is your brain on caffeine” story, with a rather favorable tribute to nature’s great drug caffeine.
Essentially, the story relates how “the dual power to counter physical fatigue and increase alertness is part of the reason caffeine ranks as the world’s most popular mood-altering drug, eclipsing the likes of nicotine and alcohol.”
As it were, coffee shops first began to proliferate in western Europe in the 1820s, and before that, Lao-tzu held out tea as a staple for his Taoist disciples. Caffeine’s most prestigious accomplishment has been to allow humans to adapt from a seasonal and sun-fed pattern of sleeping and waking to a time clock-fed pattern. Tha adaptation to work schedules disciplined by a clock – instead of light or a natural sleep cycle – could not have been possible without the discovery of the wonder drug caffeine.
Scientists have long proven that caffeine has wake-promoting power, and also, at the same time, it helps humans to focus and concentrate better, making it a staple for scholars, writers, and other sedentary folk that need ’round the clock brain power and alertness. The latest buzz craze, is, of course, the Austrian product Red Bull. I have never gone for that because of the sugar aspect, but people tell me it is now available in sugar-free form. Red Bull has 2-3 times the caffeine of a cup of coffee, and also, it offers a new kind of caffeine delivery system which works quicker than most types of ingested caffeine.
As the article says, “every working Starbucks opens four new outlets somewhere on the planet, and hires 200 new employees. There’s a joke in many cities that Starbucks is going to open a new store in the parking lot of the local Starbucks, but this is not true. Yet.”
I am awaiting the first series of caffeine “warnings,” regulations, or outright bans from government in regards to caffeine. Laugh now, but Red Bull might some day be the next Ephedra.11:00 pm on January 13, 2005 Email Karen De Coster