Caffeine is the world’s most widely used stimulant. Most Americans get their caffeine from coffee. More than 80 percent of American adults consume caffeine regularly, with an average daily dose of about 280 milligrams – the equivalent of two five-ounce cups of brewed coffee, two to three cups of instant coffee, six cups of tea or six 12-ounce cola drinks. “On balance, there is no persuasive evidence that moderate amounts of caffeine – a cup or two of coffee a day – are harmful. And there is plenty of evidence that coffee has some positive uses.
Asthma. Coffee’s ability to open up bronchial passages – making it a bronchodilator – helps prevent and treat asthma attacks. A standard broncholidating medication is theophylline, a close chemical relative of caffeine.
Common cold congestion. Because caffeine opens up the bronchial passages, it also can help relieve the chest congestion of colds. If you rather not take Sudafed or some other pharmaceutical decongestant, have a cup or two of coffee. It produces a similar effect.
Fatigue. To coffee lovers, the deep, rich brew tastes divine. But the reason people line up at the coffee machine every morning is that caffeine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant that gets the blood pumping. Caffeine can even give you a performance edge. In one study, there were 18 male runners race 1500 meters on nine different days after giving them one to two cups of either regular or decaffeinated coffee. With the help of the caffeine, the runners ran 4.2 seconds faster. In a similarstudy , there were distance runners run and cycle until they were winded. After a rest period during which they drank about five cups of coffee, the athletes repeated the workout. With the help of caffeine, their stamina improved 44 percent in the running test and 51 percent in the cycling test. International Olympic Committee standards are that an athlete’s urine may contain no more than 12 micrograms of caffeine per milligram before events. To reach that level, an athlete would have to drink at least five cups of coffee shortly before an event.
Pain. Several studies have shown that compared with plain aspirin, a combination of aspirin and a small amount of caffeine (on the order of 60 milligrams) relieves the pain more quickly and effectively. Scientists are not sure why caffeine boosts the pain-relieving action of aspirin, but it was believed the lift caffeine provides may play a psychological role in pain relief. Next time you have a headache or any injury that makes you reach for aspirin, wash it down with a cup of coffee. Some pain medications such as Midol or Vanquish – already have caffeine added, so make sure you read the label.