Caffeine gives me an instant lift. Choose anything - coffee, chocolate, ice cream, energy drinks, pudding or cocoa. These caffeinated foods and beverages give me a sought after pick-me-up. Caffeine also brings me down, sometimes hard. On particularly challenging days, I've reached for caffeine within an hour of rising from bed. It’s an up and down journey of feeling energized only feel tired a short while later - in need of another caffeine boost. Plus, the more caffeine I consumed, the more caffeine I needed.
How did I go from drinking one energy beverage in the morning to drinking so many energy drinks that, by the end of the day, I'd have a trash bin full of empty energy drink cans? Fortunately, I decided to research caffeine. Also, I searched for another way to get a longer-lasting, smoother energy boost throughout my day. Here's some of what I learned.
History of Synthetic Caffeine
Synthetic caffeine was first developed by the Nazis during WWII. Embargoes prevented the Nazis from obtaining certain goods, including caffeine. Hence, a synthesized version of caffeine was created. Since then, demands for caffeine have steadily risen. Here's another sobering fact. Synthetic caffeine is now the norm, it's in soda and energy drinks. It's reached the point where many consumers can't identify where caffeine, including synthetic caffeine, in their food, is coming from.
However, not knowing where caffeine comes from doesn't stop the ingredient from entering the body. In fact, synthesized caffeine is absorbed through the digestive system much faster than naturally occurring caffeine, providing a quicker spike and therefore a quicker crash. While synthetic and natural caffeine is barely distinguishable on a molecular level, it is the way in which the synthesized version is produced that can prompt concerns.
Problems With Synthetic Caffeine
Natural sources of caffeine are expensive to source and extract. So, lab production of caffeine is widely practiced. The lab approach isn't pretty. In the lab, synthetic caffeine starts with ammonia that is converted to urea. Then, urea and chloroacetic acid are combined to produce a compound called uracil. In turn, the uracil is processed and converted to theophylline. During the final stages, methyl chloride is introduced, producing methylated theophylline – otherwise known as synthetic caffeine.
During the last step, the raw synthetic caffeine often glows a bluish phosphorescence - not a good look. To remove the glow, synthetic caffeine is rinsed with sodium nitrite, acetic acid, sodium carbonate, and chloroform.
Pure forms of the mixture are strong, lethal even in small doses. Sixteenth of a spoonful of the caffeine will give you the same hit as a large coffee. A quarter teaspoon will cause your heart to race. Just a quarter teaspoon of caffeine can also cause you to sweat and feel acute anxiety. A tablespoon of caffeine can kill you. As if that's not bad enough, during my research, I discovered that the majority of synthetic caffeine is produced in China in unregulated factories. All that I could wonder was, "What have I been putting in my body?"
I definitely learned that it's always beneficial to be aware of where the products that I buy come from. The next time that you read the word "caffeine” on a food or beverage label, ask yourself where that caffeine may have come from. As a tip, an easy way to decipher whether a product contains natural caffeine is to take a look at the nutritional panel. Natural caffeine is usually labeled as the plant form rather than just "caffeine".
A Natural Alternative
Natural caffeine was first discovered in plants such as cacao, guarana berries, and yerba mate. It is now known to be present in over 60 different plant species. In fact, you've probably used coffee and green tea to get a natural caffeine energy boost. The caffeine buzz that you get then is usually short, sometimes with jitters. However, after researching and sampling many products, I’ve found a better source for my energy fix. It's Guayusa, (pronounced gwhy-you-sa).
Guayusa has been used for hundreds of years for its energy and healing properties. But, Guayusa is just finding its way into the United States. In South America, Guayusa is known as “night watchman” because it helps to keep you alert and focused all night. Even more, Guayusa has one of the highest caffeine contents per gram of any plant, more potent, gram for gram, than coffee and green tea, and much healthier!
Guayusa is loaded with 15 amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The plant contains the amino acid L-theanine which reduces jitters and anxiety, while amplifying cognitive benefits, creating clean and lucid energy. This helps to eliminate spikes and drops associated with synthetic caffeine. In addition, Guayusa contains theobromine and theophylline. These chemical compounds are stimulants that help to improve concentration, mood, immune system, healthy weight, and increase libido and energy.
Healthy Energy with Herbal Goodness
My research also led me to discover Herbal Goodness, an environmentally friendly, and socially responsible woman-owned company. Herbal Goodness gets its Guayusa leaves from the most sustainable organic sources. It uses these safe, quality sources to make tea bags, capsules, and easy-to-use liquid extracts. You can sip the tea, add the extract to your morning smoothie or take the Guayusa Focus and energy capsules for an on-the-go boost.
All Herbal Goodness products are non-genetically modified and are FDA approved. To get the absolutely best products at an affordable price, click here to see all of the amazing Herbal Goodness products.
I like to drink a cup of tea in the morning instead of coffee. In the summer, I drink the tea over ice. Time permitted, I add the extract to a smoothie. I now have great energy and focus for hours. I’ve also started losing weight. During the late afternoon, I've started taking the Focus and Energy capsules for a late afternoon boost. The capsules really work. Definitely an incredible product worth 5 stars!