Caffeine

Hail, Caffeina, Bringer of Good Things!
Through you, all is possible.

The deification of a molecule sounds, well, silly when said right out like that: “Hey!  I deified a molecule!”  But so many of us rely on the intervention of C8H10N4O2 to get us through the day that I’m surprised it isn’t worshiped more openly.  Surely the number of coffee- and tea-houses available across the world rival the number of temples built to other gods, and the number of people who pass through one must be close to the number who pass through the other.  In fact, I wonder which draws more on an average day?

Caffeine is a bitter alkaloid found in many of the things we eat and drink, including coffee, tea, and chocolate.  Those who are cutting down on their caffeine consumption should definitely read labels – your chocolate ice cream, or root beer, might contain caffeine without you realizing it!  It has measurable effects on human metabolism, and stimulates the central nervous system, causing alertness and feelings of energy in many people.

Many of us who ingest caffeine do do purposefully for these very things; I don’t consider myself fully awake until I’ve had at least two cups of coffee or tea (or another caffeinated beverage) in the morning, for example.  Some people use caffeine for other reasons, also – it can speed the effects of analgesics, for example, and there’s anecdotal evidence suggesting that people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who self-medicate with caffeine see an improvement in their symptoms.  And, of course, most of us have heard the theory linking the rise of coffee house culture in Britain and the Age of Enlightenment.

(I’d appreciate links to any evidence of benefit for ADHD that is not anecdotal, incidentally.)

Caffeine’s benefits for humans can be witnessed across the world – it transcends the artificial boundaries that we humans erect to keep THEM away from US.  But it also has a “darker” side – ingesting more than a moderate amount each day can cause irritability, restlessness, jittery feelings, gastrointestinal issues (caffeine can have a laxative effect), insomnia, and (in some cases) cardiovascular events such as hypertension and arrhythmia.  And, yes, there have been deaths attributed to caffeine abuse.

Of course, as we know, too much of anything can kill you.  I  recommend, though, that people be aware of how much caffeine they’re consuming and keep track of any effects they experience, positive and negative.

Anyway, take the things I noted above about caffeine’s effects, add in its hype (we’ve got gum, soap, t-shirts, mugs, and bumper stickers!  Whee!), and we’ve got a pretty powerful force with a significant impact on mankind.  Hell, most of the time it is easier to measure the impact of my interactions with caffeine than with the gods I worship, so why not add it?  To me, deifying something to which I have such a powerful connection just makes sense, and when I add in the fact that I take time to honor it every day, even in longest darkest nights of my soul…

As I said in the beginning:

Hail, Caffeina, Bringer of Good Things!
Through you, all is possible.

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7 responses to “Caffeine

  1. I have no real study, and the only ones I’ve seen have been speculative based on the aspects of ADD and caffeine, but I can tell you that I have ADD, and coffee helps calm and focus me a LOT.

    • I’ve heard that from several of my friends, too. There seems to be something to it, despite the fact that they say other stimulants work better. I figure, if it works, then it works, and who cares if the data is statistically significant?

      Of course, that’s the problem with clinical trials sometimes, too – the subjects see a benefit and report it, but quality of life is a tricky thing to measure.

      • Yeah. Strangely, I actually don’t like coffee, but I started drinking small amounts in the morning because my previously undiagnosed sleep apnea made me so tired. Eventually I noticed that, even after treating the apnea, the correlation between my ability to stay calm and focus, and my drinking of coffee, was awfully high.

  2. I too think it would be interesting to see how many more people go to the coffee house than go to church/temple. Though to be fair, most religions do services once or twice a week and not daily. It would make an interesting comparison though, cup of coffee versus spiritual action….

    I don’t think of coffee as a full blown deity, however, I can definitely see the power of working with the coffee spirit! I say a prayer over my coffee most mornings (when I don’t forget), to help boost the waking up process (I am very much not a morning person).

    To go back to the first thought about cups of coffee versus spiritual action…you can definitely combine the two (or any inspired action with any regular ‘must do’ action), and make a habit of taking a moment of gratitude, a couple deep breaths or a quick prayer for a loved one…..if you start doing it every time you make/receive a cup of coffee, it makes the drinking a spiritual thing!

    • Well, if you’re going to bring fairness into it! 🙂

      That’s actually how I started with “Hail Caffeina!” I was taking time while drinking my coffee to do religious devotions, and it just popped into my head that honoring caffeine was a good idea, since coffee was making that devotional time possible. It’s the caffeine itself that I honor, rather than the spirit of coffee – if I’m going to honor a plant spirit, I like to be able to grow the plant myself, and I’ve not yet attempted to grow coffee.

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