The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning about buying and using pure bulk powdered caffeine. According to their statistics, at least two people have died after ingesting this substance.
What is Caffeine?
Pure caffeine, whose chemical formula is C8H10N4O2, is a bitter solid with needle-like crystals that dissolves readily in water and alcohol. It is found naturally in plants, but can now be synthesized. Though caffeine supplies a kick to beverages such as coffee, tea, soft drinks and foods such as chocolate, and is an ingredient in a number of medications, it is a dangerous poison in large doses. It is also difficult for a person who takes pure caffeine to know the exact amount he or she is taking using measuring utensils found in an average kitchen. This can also lead to overdose and death.
A teaspoon of pure powdered caffeine is the same as 28 cups of coffee taken all at once.
Caffeine affects the central nervous system, and too much can overstimulate it to the point where the user experiences convulsions and, as has been seen, death. Caffeine poisoning involves:
- projectile vomiting
- gastric distress
- muscle twitching
- heart palpitations
- sensitivity to light
- inability to walk
- anxiety, nervousness
Caffeine withdrawal begins about 12 hours after the user stops taking it, peaks after one or two days and may take about a week to end. The symptoms are headache, abdominal pain, pain in the joints, drowsiness, irritability and an overall decrease in energy, motivation and the ability to concentrate. For a person who has been addicted to pure powdered caffeine, these symptoms are far worse than the grouchiness experienced by people who miss their normal cup of coffee in the morning.
Many people would no doubt be surprised to find that powdered caffeine is such a dangerous and addictive drug when taken in large amounts. Inpatient care can help.