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Caffeine is a stimulant found in products such as coffee, tea and soft drinks. The drug affects your central nervous system and causes side effects such as feelings of alertness and higher energy, though there appears to be no scientific evidence to show that it damages your brain or causes brain damage.
Caffeine exists naturally in certain plants but also can be created synthetically. When you drink caffeine, your body absorbs it very quickly and it passes to your brain, according to MedlinePlus, a service of the National Institutes of Health 1. The drug does not accumulate in your body and gets excreted through your urine after several hours. In addition to popular drinks, caffeine often is present in various medications, such as pain relievers, cold medications and diet pills 1.
Caffeine Headache Symptoms
Currently there is no evidence to show that caffeine causes or leads to brain damage. In fact, caffeine actually might serve to help protect or even heal your brain. The study reported that people who regularly consume moderate amounts of caffeine had an inverse correlation to cognitive decline, meaning they were less likely to experience such declines as opposed to those who were not regular caffeine consumers.
While caffeine isn't associated with brain damage, there are other potential side effects of which you should be aware. These symptoms might appear if you drink more than 500 to 600 mg of caffeine per day, the equivalent of drinking between about four and eight cups of coffee.
Can Excess Caffeine Cause Rashes?
The beneficial and negative effects you experience with caffeine do not exist in a vacuum, and you always should view your caffeine consumption as a small part of your overall health and well-being 1. The American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs says that while moderate use of caffeine will likely have no negative effect on your health, you must still engage in an otherwise healthy lifestyle 1. For example, though caffeine might protect against some brain conditions, if you drink a lot of high-calorie caffeinated drinks, such as:
- high blood pressure
Caffeine Headache Symptoms
Can Excess Caffeine Cause Rashes?
Can Too Much Caffeine Give You a Headache?
Congestive Heart Failure & Caffeine
Does Chai Tea Contain Caffeine?
Caffeine and Dove Dark Chocolate
How Fast Is Caffeine Absorbed by the Body?
Can Caffeine Cause Hives?
Caffeine and Dry Heaves
Can Coffee Lower Blood Sugar Levels?
- MedlinePlus: Caffeine in the Diet
- Science Daily: Caffeine May Slow Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias, Restore Cognitive Function, According to New Evidence; May 18, 2010
- MayoClinic.com: Caffeine: How Much is Too Much?
- Meredith SE, Juliano LM, Hughes JR, Griffiths RR. Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda. J Caffeine Res. 2013;3(3):114-130. doi:10.1089/jcr.2013.0016
- Richards G, Smith AP. A Review of Energy Drinks and Mental Health, with a Focus on Stress, Anxiety, and Depression. J Caffeine Res. 2016;6(2):49-63. doi:10.1089/jcr.2015.0033
- Brunyé TT, Mahoney CR, Rapp DN, Ditman T, Taylor HA. Caffeine enhances real-world language processing: evidence from a proofreading task. J Exp Psychol Appl. 2012;18(1):95-108. doi:10.1037/a0025851
- Koppelstaetter F, Poeppel TD, Siedentopf CM, et al. Caffeine and cognition in functional magnetic resonance imaging. J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;20 Suppl 1:S71-84. doi:10.3233/JAD-2010-1417
- Harrell PT, Juliano LM. Caffeine expectancies influence the subjective and behavioral effects of caffeine. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2009;207(2):335-42. doi:10.1007/s00213-009-1658-5
- Lucas M, O'reilly EJ, Pan A, et al. Coffee, caffeine, and risk of completed suicide: results from three prospective cohorts of American adults. World J Biol Psychiatry. 2014;15(5):377-86. doi:10.3109/15622975.2013.795243
- Abdel-Hady H, Nasef N, Shabaan AE, Nour I. Caffeine therapy in preterm infants. World J Clin Pediatr. 2015;4(4):81-93. doi:10.5409/wjcp.v4.i4.81
- American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th edition. Washington DC; 2013.
- Turnbull D, Rodricks JV, Mariano GF, Chowdhury F. Caffeine and cardiovascular health. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2017;89:165-185. doi:10.1016/j.yrtph.2017.07.025
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol and Caffeine. Updated October 23, 2018.
- Alsunni AA. Energy Drink Consumption: Beneficial and Adverse Health Effects. Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2015;9(4):468-474.
- Lyngsø J, Ramlau-Hansen CH, Bay B, Ingerslev HJ, Hulman A, Kesmodel US. Association between coffee or caffeine consumption and fecundity and fertility: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis. Clin Epidemiol. 2017;9:699-719. doi:10.2147/CLEP.S146496
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Pure and Highly Concentrated Caffeine. Updated September 21, 2018.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. Updated July 2018.
Roger Thorne is an attorney who began freelance writing in 2003. He has written for publications ranging from "MotorHome" magazine to "Cruising World." Thorne specializes in writing for law firms, Web sites, and professionals. He has a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas.