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Caffeine

Caffeine is a bitter tasting alkaloid that is naturally present in coffee, tea, chocolate. Considered to be among the most popular drugs worldwide, caffeine is also used as a preservative in beverages as well as numerous medications. Using the term 'drug' to describe caffeine may raise many eyebrows for common people who are generally familiar with two categories of drugs. The first category of drugs they are familiar with include medications, such as penicillin and aspirin that can be bought from drug stores and used as remedies for different ailments. The second types of drug people are usually familiar with include substances like cocaine, heroin, nicotine and alcohol that people take for multiple reasons. Some take them for relaxation as well as to stimulate them, while many others use such substances to run away from realism.

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To be precise, a drug is a compound that is utilized for the prevention as well as treatment of various ailments. Some drugs are also used to boost people's physical or mental conditions. In effect, caffeine has the aptitude to perform all these tasks and people use it for such different reasons. However, compared to may other drugs, the action of caffeine is definitely mild as well as restricted.

Caffeine is a compound substance that is made use of medicinally as well as for reasons non-remedial. In fact, most people using caffeine do it for non-medical reasons, especially the drug's invigorating impact on an individual's mental disposition and conduct. Drugs or chemical substances that are basically used with the purpose of changing mood or transforming behavior are called psychoactive drugs, which include caffeine, cocaine, heroin, nicotine, marijuana, alcohol and others.

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It is interesting to note that the discovery and use of plants yielding caffeine dates back to several thousand years. In fact, most such plants were first discovered in the region of 600,000 years to 700,000 year back, which denotes the early phase of the Stone Age or Paleolithic period. In fact, during the Paleolithic period, prehistoric people chewed the leaves, seeds and barks of numerous plants. It is believed that they also chewed the different parts of plants producing caffeine with a view to bring about changes in their mood and performance. In due course of time, people began to cultivate caffeine and consumed the chemical substance with a view to drive out tiredness, prolong sleeplessness as well as boost their mood.

It is believed that in the beginning, people in the Paleolithic period may have pounded the part of the plants enclosing caffeine and consumed it to assist the digestive process. It was at a much later date that people found out that they could derive enhanced consequences from the plants if they steeped it in hot water and drank the infusion prepared in the process. Incidentally, the prehistoric people were correct in their observation, as it has been proved that the caffeine-yielding plants produced more amounts of the chemical substance at elevated temperatures. Interestingly enough, the origin of all beverages containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea, mate, guarana, cocoa, yoco infusion, cassina and kola tea, are based on this ancient finding.

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Sources of caffeine

Contrary to the common belief, the entire caffeine yield is never utilized to prepare coffee and tea. In fact, substantial amounts of caffeine are derived from inferior quality coffee beans and tea leaves. Some amount of caffeine is also collected as a by-product or derivative of the decaffeination (the process of removing caffeine) of tea and coffee. Caffeine collected in this manner is usually made use of in the manufacture of soft drinks and medicines.

It may be mentioned here that only three species of plants grow the beans that are especially used to manufacture coffee. These three species of plants include Coffea arabica, Coffea robusta and Coffea liberica. Coffea arabica is an indigenous plant of Ethiopia, but is now widely cultivated in South American countries like Brazil and Colombia. On the other hand, Coffea robusta is native to Saudi Arabia, but is extensively grown mainly in countries like Brazil and Indonesia as well as different regions of the African continent. As the name suggests, Coffea liberica is indigenous to Liberia in Africa and is presently grown in different regions of the continent. On the other hand, the tea leaves those are infused to prepare your cup of tea grow on a solitary species called Camellia sinensis that is native to India and China. These two Asian countries still continue to be the major producers of tea. The uncultivated species of coffee, Coffea, is found in abundance in Africa, while the wild variety of tea, Camellia, is found in plenty in the Yunnan province of China. Although it may appear to be incredible, there have been reports that some wild varieties of tea growing in China develop up to 90 feet in height and are around 1,800 years old!

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In addition to the above mentioned three species of plants - Coffea arabica, Coffea robusta and Coffea liberica, cocoa beans as well as kola nuts that are basically found in different regions of Africa also provide sufficient amounts of caffeine. The other sources of caffeine include yoco bark and guarana seeds that commonly grow in South America. Among these, mate is ingested in abundance and is found only in Latin American countries like Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

In order to comprehend the reason behind some plants evolving to enclose caffeine, scientists have actually emphasized on the manner in which such plants benefit from this chemical substance. According to one theory, plants containing caffeine have additional defense from bacterial, fungal and insect assaults. It has been discovered that caffeine actually slows down the activities of bacteria and fungi, besides resulting in sterility among a section of insects that eventually diminishes the populations of such pests. Moreover, as caffeine is able to penetrate into the soil surrounding the plants containing this chemical compound, it is likely to slow down the growth of weeds or else they would work to damage the plants. From this, it is evident that any plant containing this kind of chemical substance that provides additional fortification against outside attacks by microbes and pests would live for longer period compared to plants that possess very little amount of this substance or those that do not contain any amount of the chemical compound.

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It is important to note here that if caffeine damaged the plant containing it, then the plants would not have this type of benefit, but the chemical compound would actually prove to be detrimental for the plants in such cases. To be precise, the plants that contain caffeine also have a definite mechanism, whereby they are able to protect them from the toxic impacts of the chemical substance. For instance, the coffee plants produce and preserve the caffeine in the coffee seedlings that are far off from the locations of cell division. This is owing to the fact that the cell division process is very susceptible to poisonous substances. Nevertheless, it is still possible that caffeine will still destroy the coffee plants which have produced the chemical substance. In fact, when the bushes and trees producing caffeine become old, the soil surrounding them becomes richer in caffeine content by absorbing and accumulating the chemical substance from the leaves and berries of the bushes and trees that fall on the ground over the years. This is the main reason why most coffee plantations are inclined to deteriorate after a period of 10 to 25 years.

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