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Coffee as a Stimulant

Brianne couldn't believe she had to go to work in four hours.  She had been working on an essay for the last three days and hadn't slept in the last two days.  Balancing school and work was a lot tougher than she thought but all she needed to do was get this paper done on time and that was it, she would have finally finished school.  Despite having her eyes on the finish line her body was just not cooperating.  While her mind was willing, her body was telling her no and she found that she was spending minutes of her time trying to stay awake.  Finally, she decided urgent times call for urgent measures.  What did Brianne do?  She brewed up a pot of coffee, got her paper done, went to work on time, and came home the next day for the most beautiful sleep of her life.

When Brianne needed a boost in energy, she turned to what thousands of Americans turn to when in a similar predicament - coffee.  In the popular Jim Davis comic Garfield, the loveable cat Garfield is unable to begin his days without a cup of coffee.  While most cats actually do not require coffee to begin their days, the figure of Garfield works as an apt metaphor for thousands of Americans.  For many people, their days just do not start until they have had their first cup of coffee.

That's because one of the biggest benefits of coffee are its stimulating effects.  Coffee contains caffeine, which acts as a stimulant.  It is a great drink for those times of the day when you need a boost.  Students turn to it when they are embarking on a late-night cram session and office workers need the coffee break for those times they notice that their concentration is lagging.

The effects of caffeine as a stimulant have been one of the most studies aspects of coffee, particularly in studies concerning the relationship between coffee consumption and human health.  While caffeine is found naturally in tea, kola nuts, Yerba mate, guarana, and cacao beans, it is predominantly associated with coffee beans.  The main pharmacological properties of caffeine include its stimulating action on the central nervous system, in which it also has psychotropic effects.  Additionally, caffeine has a stimulating effect on respiration and the human heart rate.  Caffeine also contains a diuretic effect.

It is believed that the way that caffeine affects the brain is by blocking adenosine receptors, which slows down nerve cell activity.  When the caffeine molecule binds to the receptors of nerve cells, it causes the release of hormone epinephrine, which results in increased heart rate, increased blood flow to the muscles, increased blood pressure, decreased blood flow to the skin, decreased blood flow to the inner organs, a release of glucose by the liver, and increase in the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain.  While many are worried about the addictive properties of caffeine, if you follow the maxim that too much of a good thing becomes bad, you will be able to avoid the negative effects of caffeine that results from an over consumption of coffee.

Coffee as a stimulant is one of the principle reasons why coffee is such a popular drink throughout the world.  While there are many social traditions that result from drinking coffee, the use of coffee as a stimulant is almost as old as coffee.  Monks in the African desert where coffee plants were first discovered had historically used coffee beans as a way to stay fully awake so they can prolong their own meditations.  So coffee and its stimulating principles have lived on for centuries and will continue to live on as one of the benefits of drinking coffee.