Saturday, January 29, 2011
Caffeine: Natural Sources and Man-Made Uses
Caffeine, perhaps the most popular natural drug in the world, is a stimulant found in many plant species including coffee, tea, and cocoa, although a number of other plants produce caffeine-like chemicals. Less commonly used sources of caffeine include the yerba maté and guarana, two South American plants that have only recently become known around the world, used with greater frequency in the preparation of energy drinks. Two of caffeine’s alternative names, mateine and guaranine, are derived from the names of these plants. A typical energy drink made with guarana can contain as much as 259 mgs of caffeine; twice the caffeine found in coffee beans (about 2–4.5% caffeine in guarana seeds compared to 1–2% for coffee beans). As a dietary supplement, guarana is an effective energy booster, but the long-term effects of this and similar chemicals are as yet unknown. Read more . . .