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Caffeine and Anxiety

Kola and Caffeine reduces anxiety and fear?  What is your reaction when you read this?  Imagine if you found this headline in the popular press? Isn’t that great, I can now have my cup of coffee to calm me down. I want to illustrate how the press can, often do, use scientific research to say things that are not correct, or are not proven by the research at all.

Mice on a caffeine fix

A paper came out in the scientific literature that reported that caffeine in kola nut reduced anxiety and fear in mice. What they did found is that mice fed caffeine and kola nut spent more time in the light area of a box and spent more time in an elevated maze. Rodents usually prefer the dark and lower areas. They were fed the caffeine and caffeine containing kola for 28 days and hence it was considered a chronic dose. They also spent less time grooming and had babies less often. What does this mean? It means that caffeine can induce unnatural behaviours   It means that mice on caffeine are more adventurous and confident (to their peril in their natural environment) and are neglectful of everyday necessaries of life, both of which reduce their chance of survive in the wild. They are “hyped up”. Does that remind you of modern man in the 21st century?  The researchers concluded that “These results indicate that chronic consumption of kola nut and caffeine decrease anxiety and fear related behaviors in Swiss white mice” (1).  The chronic consumption of caffeine was 1.0g of Caffeine pure caffeine or the equivalent as Kola nut over 28 days or 3.5mg per day. Putting into perspective, the mice weighed from 15 to 30g which is equal to about 8 to 16g of caffeine for a 60Kg person. That seems to a lot of caffeine. A cup of instant coffee has from 65 to 100mg of caffeine and a McDonalds Iced coffee or a lot of energy drinks have 200mg (2) in them so the mice were consuming up to 80 the 160 cups of coffee a day, or 40 to 80 McDonald’s iced coffee or cans of energy drinks if they were humans!

Drink you caffeine, feel brave while you die early.

What does all this prove? Just that if you consume 40 to 80 energy drinks a day you may feel braver. You would more than likely die from overdose even if it was possible to drink that much. That it does not mean it works the same for human as  a mouse. Many other studies, people’s personal experience and simple physiology tell us the Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and causes nervousness, sleeplessness and anxiety.

The authors themselves said:

“On the other hand, the reports of (Mrvos et al., 1989) shows that large amounts of caffeine intake can induce anxiety severe enough to necessitate clinical attention.

This however does not agree with the results of this study since chronic consumption of kola nut diet and caffeine diets caused a decrease in anxiety and fear related

behaviours in mice. It could also mean that the large intake of caffeine-induced anxiety may be specie specific “(1)

That is, it may reduce anxiety in mice at mega doses but I am not a mouse, are you?

So, while it may be interesting to some, it really proves very little, if anything.

Kola vested interest   

I noticed that the authors were from the University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria. Nigeria is a major Kola production area so there is a vested interest in the economic prosperity of the country.

Is Caffeine breaking your bank?

What is really happening is my cup of coffee is over stimulating my nervous system signaling my already overworked adrenals to pump more adrenalin into my over stress body that just needs some rest. But I feel better and think I can face the world until my bodies bank account of energy is so overdrawn that the adrenals finally pack it in and collapse producing adrenal exhaustion. My body vital force account has been overdrawn for so long that the bank finally forecloses and I am in big trouble!



 (1) International Research Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology  (ISSN: 2251-0176)   Vol. 1(5) pp. 093-099, August, 2011

Available online http://www.interesjournals.org/IRJPP

 (2) http://www.energyfiend.com/the-caffeine-database