nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Coffee Doesn't Really Get Us Going: We're Just Groggy From Coffee Withdrawal?

This piece of research doesn't make any sense to me.

In a research paper in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology (say that real fast) the authors report,
"Although frequent consumers feel alerted by caffeine, especially by their morning tea, coffee or other caffeine-containing drink, evidence suggests that this is actually merely the reversal of the fatiguing effects of acute caffeine withdrawal," said Professor Peter Rogers, of Bristol University, and colleagues.
It's important to understand what they're saying here:  when you get up in the morning, feeling drowsy and slow, coffee is not perking you up, it's just overcoming a withdrawal feeling where you feel worse than you would have if you didn't drink coffee.

The best I can explain this is they are postulating that when you drink coffee chronically there is no increase in arousal with that morning Espresso Macchiato, just a bump back up to normal, because each morning you are in "coffee withdrawal," which is a level of arousal below normal.

Does this sound like one of those "which came first, the chicken or the egg" arguments?

Maybe I'm in coffee withdrawal right now, but I didn't find this research very persuasive--yet.  They need to demonstrate some physiological mechanism for why 18 hours of abstinence leaves you worse off than if you didn't drink coffee.  The half life of caffeine in coffee is about 4 hours.

For Onion Peelers, (skip if numbers bore you),
Participants were 162 non-/low (NL) and 217 medium/high (MH) caffeine consumers. They rated anxiety, alertness, and headache before and after 100 mg caffeine and again after another 150 mg caffeine given 90 min later, or after placebo on both occasions. Caffeine intake was prohibited for 16 h before the first dose of caffeine/placebo.  Placebo administration in MH participants decreased alertness and increased headache. Caffeine did not increase alertness in NL participants. With frequent net benefit for alertness is gained, as caffeine abstinence reduces alertness and consumption merely returns it to baseline.

This doesn't change my lifestyle, even if true.  That morning jolt is pure Heaven.

Doc D

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