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Caffeine

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Caffeine


Caffeine is the most-widely consumed psychoactive
substance by human beings throughout the world (Reid, 2005).
This report will detail its natural origins, chemical
structure (as well as those of similar substances), and the
methods and dosages in which it is rendered into its usable
form. Additionally, this report will detail caffeine's various
biological pathways within the human body, including access to
the brain and various neurotransmitter pathways.

Caffeine is a chemical that occurs naturally in over 100
plant species throughout the world (Steffen, 2000). Perhaps
the most widely recognized of these plants is the coffee tree,
whose small seed (commonly referred to as a "bean") is roasted
and then crushed into a fine powder (Weinberg and Bealer,
2001). Caffeine also occurs naturally in cocoa beans, tea
leaves, kola nuts, and gurana seeds, and mate. Some of these
plants, such as tea, actually bear a distinct, but similar
chemical to caffeine (i.e. theophylline); these chemicals will
be discussed further in the chemistry section (Steffen, 2000).

Caffeine is chemically known by two names. The first is
1,3,7 -trimethylxanthine; the second is 3,7,-Dihydro-1,3,7-
trimethyl-1H-purine-2,6-dione. Historically, caffeine has also
gone by the name of methyltheobromine, as well as thein
(Weinberg and Bealer, 2001). The chemical formula of caffeine
is C8 H10 N4 O2. The molecular weight for this chemical is
194.19 atomic units. Its composition is as follows: 49.5
percent carbon, 5.2 percent hydrogen, 28.9 percent nitrogen,
and 16.5 percent oxygen. Caffeine melts from a solid hexagonal
crystal at 238 degrees Celsius (Karch, 1993).

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... middle of paper ...


... Parliament, C.Ho, and P.Schieberle
(Eds.), Caffeinated beverages: Health benefits, physiological
effects, and chemistry (p.46-53). Washington, D.C: American
Chemical Society.

Spiller, G. (1998). Basic metabolism and physiological effects
of the methylxanthines. In G. Spiller (Ed.), Caffeine (p.225-
231). New York: CRC Press.

Steffen, D.(2000). Chemistry and health benefits of
caffeinated beverages: symposium overview. In H. Parliament,
C.Ho, and P.Schieberle (Eds.), Caffeinated beverages: Health
benefits, physiological effects, and chemistry (p.2-8).
Washington, D.C: American Chemical Society.

Reid, T. (2005). Caffeine: What's the buzz? Why we love
caffeine. National Geographic, 207, 1, p.2-33.

Weinberg, B., and Bealer, B. (2001). The world of caffeine:
The science and culture of the world's most popular drug. New
York: Routledge.


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