- has anyone snorted No-Doz?
- Snorting Caffeine Powder? You Could Damage Your Heart
- Heart-Stopping Effects of Powdered Caffeine
- Death by Caffeine
- An Evolving Market for Caffeine Products
- Use, Misuse, and Abuse
- What to Do if You Suspect a Caffeine Overdose
- What You Need to Know About Caffeine Powder
- Web Exclusive
- It’s Not Just Chocolate Powder. You Shouldn’t Be Snorting Anything, Doctors Say
- Thank you!
- Snorting Chocolate Powder Not a Smart Thing to Do
- Urging the FDA to investigate
- How caffeine affects the body
- Caffeine addiction…or not
- The benefits of caffeine
- Caffeine’s effect on children
- Turbo Snort Energy Nasal Spray
- User experience:
- Snorting Cocaine
- What Is Snorting Cocaine?
- Understanding Cocaine
- Why Do People Snort Cocaine?
- The Nose
- Ready to get help?
- Dangers of Snorting Cocaine
- Help is Available
- The Basics of Caffeine Safety
- Stick to Pills, not the Powder
- You’ll be saving money—and the environment
- Related posts:
has anyone snorted No-Doz?
Sep 4, 2008 – 11:09am PT
Pakistan: Uproar grows over first ground assault by US troops
Pakistani military officials fear American intervention in the tribal areas could spark a rebellion, derailing counterterrorism operations.
By Liam Stack
posted September 04, 2008 at 9:54 am EDT
United States forces conducted their first ground assaults into Pakistani territory from bases in Afghanistan early Wednesday morning in a raid on a suspected Taliban stronghold in South Waziristan, one of Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas. The attack has caused an uproar in Pakistan and raised concerns of a new period of tension between the US and its valuable, nuclear-armed ally in the war on terror, which has entered a period of political uncertainty after the resignation of long-serving president Pervez Musharraf last month.
The US has not officially commented on the raid, and leaders of the US-led NATO peacekeeping force in Afghanistan deny any knowledge of the attack, reports Reuters. But one US official, speaking to CNN on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that the attack had occurred.
The Pentagon has refused to comment officially on the attack, but several defense officials acknowledged that U.S. military activity had taken place inside Pakistan.
The senior U.S. official said a small number of U.S. helicopters landed troops in the village near Angoor Adda in South Waziristan, where Taliban and al Qaeda fighters have hunkered down over the years.
Local media reports said the troops came out of a chopper and fired on civilians. The U.S. official said there may have been a small number of women and children in the immediate vicinity, but when the mission began “everybody came out firing” from the compound.
He said the U.S. troops specifically attacked three buildings in the compound. They were believed to contain individuals responsible for training and equipping insurgents who have been crossing the border into Afghanistan in increasing numbers in recent months and staging large-scale, high-profile attacks against U.S. and coalition forces.
There has been no indication that the US troops were targeting Osama bin Laden or his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Outraged at the violation of sovereignty, the Pakistani government summoned the US ambassador to protest the raid, reports the BBC.
Some officials and analysts say that the raid into Angoor Adda may signal a more aggressive American strategy towards militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas and their cross-border raids into Afghanistan, reports The New York Times.
The commando raid by the American forces signaled what top American officials said could be the opening salvo in a much broader campaign by Special Operations forces against the Taliban and Al Qaeda inside Pakistan, a secret plan that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has been advocating for months within President Bush’s war council.
It also seemed likely to complicate relations with Pakistan, where the already unstable political situation worsened after the resignation last month of President Pervez Musharraf, a longtime American ally.
“What you’re seeing is perhaps a stepping up of activity against militants in sanctuaries in the tribal areas that pose a direct threat to United States forces and Afghan forces in Afghanistan,” said one senior American official, who had been briefed on the attack and spoke on condition of anonymity because of the mission’s political sensitivity. “There’s potential to see more.”
But with political uncertainty and the rising tide of violence, some fear that an aggressive American posture could do more harm than good. Speaking to the Associated Press (AP), Pakistani Gen. Athar Abbas said he feared American attacks could provoke a tribal rebellion against Islamabad, which would completely derail counterterrorism operations in the region.
He said the attack would undermine Pakistan’s efforts to isolate Islamic extremists and could threaten NATO’s major supply lines, which snake from Pakistan’s Indian Ocean port of Karachi through the tribal region into Afghanistan.
“We cannot afford a huge uprising at the level of tribe,” Abbas told AP. “That would be completely counterproductive and doesn’t help the cause of fighting terrorism in the area.”
Bloodshed in the tribal areas has become increasingly common in recent weeks. Until a cease-fire was announced last weekend, the Pakistani Army had killed hundreds of militants in the Bajaur tribal region. In a separate incident on Wednesday, Pakistani forces killed 30 militants in a gun battle in the Swat Valley, another site of fierce military-militant clashes, reports Agence France-Presse. On Thursday morning, 25 police recruits were kidnapped by Taliban forces in the tribal areas while on their way to a training center.
Snorting Caffeine Powder? You Could Damage Your Heart
The easy availability and popularity of a powdered caffeine product is raising new concerns that the stimulant may be life-threatening.
Logan Stiner, an 18-year-old star high school wrestler in LaGrange, Ohio, died from a caffeine powder overdose in May 2014, according to the local medical examiner, as reported by the Elyria Chronicle Telegram. His overdose death from such a commonly used product as caffeine prompted a warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Consumers should avoid using pure powdered caffeine products for any reason because they can be dangerous, even deadly.
After Stiner’s death, the FDA said in an email that they are “awaiting a final report from the coroner to confirm the amount of caffeine found in the bloodstream,” and that they may take further action to protect consumers.
Unfortunately, the FDA warning about toxic caffeine overdoses may get lost among online marketing pitches for powdered caffeine. This form of caffeine is legal and easy to buy in bulk. As one manufacturer touts it, caffeine is the “oldest and best known stimulant in the world.” You can buy it for $15 per pound from a number of online companies.
It’s true that makers of powdered caffeine products often note the danger of abuse and caution customers not to inhale the powder. But the allure of a legal, cheap stimulant may be particularly attractive to young people, with the promise of boosting athletic performance and improving mood. But the price can be high for your heart.
Heart-Stopping Effects of Powdered Caffeine
“Patients with caffeine overdose — I have seen more than a few — often complain of their hearts racing or pounding in their chests,” says William T. Abraham, MD, Everyday Health columnist and the director of the division of cardiovascular medicine at the Ohio State University in Columbus. “When extreme, this can turn into an abnormal and sometimes life-threatening heart arrhythmia that essentially ‘stops’ the heart,” adds Dr. Abraham.
Caffeine does this by causing the body to release a burst of adrenaline. “Caffeine also blocks a key enzyme in heart cells that modulates the effect of adrenaline on the heart,” explains Abraham. With symptoms like tachycardia — a faster heart rate — each heartbeat also comes with increased force.
The amount of pure, powdered caffeine that would be toxic for an adult varies depending on the person’s health, age, and size, notes Christopher P. Holstege, MD, chief of the division of medical toxicology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville. “Death has occurred after ingestion of 6.5 grams in an adult,” Dr. Holstege says. “Considering I just bought a pill-bottle sized container of pure caffeine containing 100 grams, it would not be difficult for someone to become toxic and potentially die from ingesting pure caffeine.”
Death by Caffeine
Well before the FDA became concerned about caffeine powders, there were problems with highly caffeinated drinks. In 2010, caffeinated drinks containing alcohol had to be taken off the market because of the health risks.
Coffee and tea are the old standbys when it comes to caffeinated beverages, containing 40 milligrams (mg) to 150 mg per 5-ounce (oz) serving. Sodas have varying levels. Coke Classic has 23 mg in a 12 oz drink, while the same amount of Jolt Cola has 100 mg, according to the FDA. Energy drinks or “shots,” such as Red Bull and Monster, have about 80 to 90 mg of caffeine in 8 oz. At the top of the caffeine content list, 5-hour Energy Extra Strength has 242 mg in only 2 oz., according to a Consumer Reports investigation; however, the caffeine content is not disclosed on the product.
Wrongful death suits filed in recent years have highlighted the dangers of even nonalcoholic caffeinated drinks. The family of Cory Terry, a Brooklyn, N.Y., man who died in 2011 at only 33 years of age, sued Red Bull for $85 milllion for wrongful death. Terry died while playing basketball shortly after drinking a Red Bull. Anais Fornier of Hagerstown, Md., was only 14 when she died from a heart attack after drinking two Monster Energy drinks. Her family also filed a wrongful death suit against Monster Beverage Corp.
An Evolving Market for Caffeine Products
The list of drinks and other products containing caffeine continues to grow. They range from items like Jolt gum, which claims to have the “energy boost of an energy drink” in two pieces of gum, to candies like Foosh energy mints. They’re advertised as the “world’s most caffeinated confectionary products,” though the actual caffeine content is not disclosed. Another newer caffeinated product is Sheets dissolvable strips — which the manufacturer says contains 50 mg of the stimulant per sheet. To date, nutrition facts panels don’t have to reveal the amount of caffeine in a product because it is not a nutrient as required by the FDA.
Caffeine powders bring a whole new category of risk, because even tiny amounts of powdered pure caffeine can be lethal. “These products may carry minimal or insufficient labeling, and consumers may not be aware that small amounts can cause an overdose,” said the FDA in an email. “The difference between a safe amount and a lethal dose of caffeine in these powdered products is very small. Furthermore, safe quantities of these products can be nearly impossible to measure with common kitchen measuring tools. Volume measures, such as teaspoons, are not precise enough to calculate how many milligrams of caffeine are in the dose,” the FDA noted.
To measure a safe dose, you must use a micro scale. The amount of pure powdered caffeine that is equivalent to that in one cup of coffee is only 1/32 of a teaspoon. A clinical review of evidence on the effects of caffeine found that up to 400 mg of caffeine a day — about four cups of coffee — won’t have health risks for most. But that really depends on the person. Effects of caffeine depend on your gender, age, and health condition. Women should limit caffeine to 300 mg a day during their reproductive years, say researchers at the Bureau of Chemical Safety, in Ottawa, Canada. And caffeine should not even be in childhood and adolescent diets, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics clinical report.
Use, Misuse, and Abuse
Stiner’s is not the only documented case of pure caffeine powder toxicity.
Overdose from caffeine powder caused tachycardia, seizure, and ventricular fibrillation in a 27-year-old woman, as reported in British Medical Journal Case Reports in 2013. The patient was a woman who had overdosed on drugs before and suffered from depression. She survived with serious heart and lung complications after hospital workers filtered her blood and restarted her heart repeatedly with CPR.
Evidence that caffeine can be extremely toxic comes from other rare case reports, as well. At only 31, a man intentionally took his life by overdosing on caffeine, reported Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology in April 1014. Levels of caffeine in his blood were 179 mg/liter. In two additional cases, medical reports cited fatalities from caffeine overdose with even higher levels, over 500 mg/L of caffeine in the blood. While caffeine may not be suspected at the time of heart-related deaths and is rarely measured, at least in these cases, the concentrations were fatal.
Holstege says that he has seen cases of caffeine toxicity in his own practice as recently as this year. In an extreme case he reported in 2003, a woman ate about 50 gm of caffeine in a massive overdose suicide attempt, taking 250 tablets of 200 mg each. She had multiple organ failure, but survived after emergency treatment from Holstege and his team.
RELATED: This Is Your Heart on Energy Drinks
What to Do if You Suspect a Caffeine Overdose
Caffeine is a drug, not just a food ingredient or a supplement, says the FDA’s recent advisory to consumers. You can get used to consuming certain levels of it, and you may go through withdrawal when you give it up. You can overdose and, as medical examiners’ reports continue to show, too much caffeine can kill you.
“Clinically, caffeine intoxication is associated with nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, mental status changes such as confusion and agitation, cardiac dysrhythmias, and seizures,” says Holstege.
Watch out for these symptoms of a caffeine overdose:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Erratic heartbeat
If you or someone else is having a bad reaction to caffeine, get medical care at once by calling 9-1-1, or contact a poison control center by calling 1-800-222-1222.
The FDA is collecting information about experiences consumers have had with powdered pure caffeine. You can report adverse events:
- Call the FDA at 240-402-2405
- Email [email protected]
Netflix bingers got another terrifying sniff of prison life in the newly released fifth season of Orange Is the New Black. In Episode 11 and 12 of the new season, the inmates illustrate what ill-informed lengths they sometimes go to in order to get high.
Caution: Spoilers for the fifth season of Orange Is the New Black are below.
By the end of the season, guards have been taken prisoner, and two inmates are put in charge of monitoring them. Staying awake for long stretches at a time isn’t easy, however, and they turn to chemical means in order to stay awake. Unfortunately, they incorrectly assume that snorting any energy-boosting substance is the fastest or most comfortable way to feel its effects. While that may work for isolated compounds like cocaine, snorting coffee grounds doesn’t exactly have the same effect. Ultimately, the inmates stay awake, sure, but only because all of the ground-up beans stuck in their nasal passages cause extreme pain.
“The more it hurts, the stronger the high, right?” Ouija asks after doing a line.
Insufflation offers a more direct route for drugs to reach and cross the blood-brain barrier — if they’re in the right form.
The reason so many drug users turn to insufflation — the medical term for snorting — is because it’s thought to be the fastest way to get a substance to the blood-brain barrier, where it can most quickly exert its effects. This is true for some drugs, like pure cocaine and ketamine, which, when snorted, travel up the nostrils along and through the mucus membranes, where they enter the bloodstream and quickly pass the blood-brain barrier. There, they act on receptors in the brain that cause their psychoactive effects. Insufflation makes sense with these drugs for two reasons: First, they are snorted in a relatively pure form, which allows the active ingredient to dissolve easily and pass into the blood stream, and second, they are drugs meant to act on the brain.
Coffee’s active ingredient, caffeine, also binds receptors in the brain to produce its energizing effects. But the caffeine in coffee grounds isn’t as freely available as the cocaine in, well, pure cocaine — the caffeine must be extracted somehow. Caffeine, obviously, is best leached out through water — which is why humans that want java’s jolt of energy brew their coffee instead of eating it (too dry) or snorting it (definitely too dry).
Snorting coffee grounds: a lot of pain for too little payoff.Netflix/Orange Is the New Black
When ground coffee is snorted, it’s possible that some of the caffeine will leak out and reach the blood stream if it stays in the nasal cavity long enough. (While the grounds certainly won’t dissolve, most people would probably try to blow them out ASAP, because they would hurt like hell.) Still, doing so isn’t a particularly efficient way to get a caffeine fix. Consider the amount of time and high temperature required to extract caffeine from coffee the normal way; even when coffee is made without boiling water, as in the cold brew process, producing a caffeine-filled cup can take hours of slow filtration.
If insufflation really is the goal, there is a more complex method, practiced regularly in some university chemistry courses, that could extract a theoretically snortable form of caffeine from coffee. A lab manual from Indiana State University’s Department of Chemistry and Physics outlines a process that involves,, first,, making coffee the normal way, extracting the caffeine layer using a solvent other than water — dichloromethane, in this case — and then drying the solvent caffeine solution until nothing but fine, white crystallized caffeine is left.
Snorting pure caffeine would, indeed, cause energizing effects, but it is incredibly dangerous to do so. Caffeine is a very potent, psychoactive compound, and it can trigger a potentially fatal effect in humans at a dose of 5-10 grams — a dose that would be much easier to inhale rather than ingest.
By Episode 12 of Orange Is the New Black, the inmates are vomiting and shitting profusely; their bodies, obviously, are rejecting the foreign coffee grounds, especially because they’re in a place they’re not supposed to be. “When that article said that espresso was the poor man’s cocaine, I thought we could snort it?” wails Pidge. It may well be, but they would have been a lot better off drinking it instead.
What You Need to Know About Caffeine Powder
Everyone knows the caffeine in a cup of coffee or tea can offer a much-needed boost of energy. But one substance is taking that jolt to a scarier level. If you haven’t heard of caffeine powder, it’s made headlines recently after the FDA advised people not to buy it.
The statement came in response to an Ohio teenager’s death from a caffeine powder overdose in May. Eighteen-year-old Logan Stiner was just days shy of graduating high school when he was found unconscious. Investigators said Stiner had toxic levels of the powder in his system which led to irregular heartbeat and seizures, USA Today reports.
RELATED: 4 Health Benefits of Coffee
Caffeine powder is sold online as a dietary supplement and should be measured with a micro-scale because the serving sizes are so small—and potent. One serving of caffeine powder is usually about one-sixteenth of a teaspoon, which contains about 250 milligrams of caffeine or the amount in a small cup of coffee, USA Today reports.
RELATED: 11 Ways to Boost Your Energy With Food
But ingesting a little too much caffeine powder isn’t the same as drinking one too many cups of Joe. Since it’s so concentrated (it’s basically pure caffeine), even amounts that look small to you could be lethal. The FDA warns that just a single teaspoon of powder contains roughly the same amount of caffeine in 25 cups of coffee. That amount can lead to an overdose, causing severe side effects like erratic heartbeat, seizures, and death. Caffeine toxicity can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, stupor, and disorientation.
RELATED: 14 Reasons You’re Tired All the Time
The FDA says it’s considering regulating caffeine powder but in the meantime, check out these 8 tips to boost your energy naturally like working out or getting outdoors.
The Dangers of Caffeine Powder
By Lindsey Getz
Most young and older adults who want a jolt of energy in the morning or afternoon will drink a cup of hot coffee or tea. If that doesn’t pep them up, they may have a second or third cup. But those who are looking for an even stronger boost to stay alert or enhance athletic performance have turned to caffeine powder, a concentrated supplement that recently has come under fire following the deaths of two people as a result of its use.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is pursuing an FDA ban on this supplement. “Before May 27, 2014, we had never heard of ‘caffeine powder.’ Now we think about it every day.” Dennis and Katie Stiner made this statement as part of the petition to the FDA. Their son, Logan James Stiner, an 18-year-old from Ohio, died on May 27 last year as a result of using this product.
In addition to Logan, Wade Sweatt, a 24-year-old from Alabama, also lost his life after ingesting caffeine powder. According to a story published on NPR.org, Sweatt was a health-conscious man who didn’t like coffee and thought he was making a good choice by getting his caffeine boost from a supplement as opposed to sugary sodas.
Possibly Other Cases
While these two cases are known, there could be others, says Laura MacCleery, chief regulatory affairs attorney with CSPI and the author of the petition before the FDA. Because a death from caffeine powder manifests as a heart attack, an autopsy to search for substances might not be performed.
“If an individual took some caffeine powder before going to the gym and then had a heart attack while working out, that wouldn’t necessarily lead anyone to look for caffeine in the bloodstream,” MacCleery says. “That makes this even scarier. We don’t really know how many deaths it may have caused.”
So how much caffeine powder is a dangerous amount? It turns out, very little. One teaspoon of powdered caffeine is equivalent to 25 cups of coffee, MacCleery says. Two teaspoons is more than enough to kill someone. The suggested dose of caffeine powder is between 1/32 and 1/16 of a teaspoon.
“Without a microgram scale in one’s home, you’d never be able to get the correct dosing,” MacCleery says. “It’s a ridiculous serving size, which makes the drug impractical for anyone to administer safely at home.” Nor should anyone need to, MacCleery adds. There’s no reason why anyone’s diet should need to be supplemented with pure, pharmaceutical-grade caffeine. MacCleery calls it “irresponsible” that this drug could be sold legally. She believes the product is mostly available online through bulk supplement retailers and possibly in some specialty shops such as tobacco stores or directly from the gym.
What Dietitians Should Know
“What I’d like dietitians to know is that this product is out there and it’s dangerous,” MacCleery says. “Dietitians are the perfect audience for this message as some of the people who might be interested in using this product are health-conscious individuals who are struggling with energy and want to avoid caffeine through sugary drinks. But they need to know this powder is dangerous and should be avoided.”
MacCleery fears that young adults may be experimenting with this powder. Many caffeinated products, including a wide range of energy drinks, are marketed to kids as being fun ways to boost energy. Even with good intentions—such as staying up late to study—if young adults turn to a product like caffeine powder they could put their lives at risk.
MacCleery says that even though a normal dose of caffeine through sports drinks, chocolate, or coffee typically is fine, she would still urge dietitians to talk to their clients about caffeine in general.
“People just need to be aware of how much caffeine they’re consuming throughout the day,” she says. “Sometimes it’s hidden in products they don’t even realize and they may be getting more than they think.”
MacCleery adds that it’s worth having a conversation about what kinds of effects caffeine can have. Studies have shown that short-term side effects of caffeine include headaches, nausea, and anxiety. “While not harmful in small doses, caffeine can still mess with your body, such as disturb your sleep schedule,” MacCleery says, “and it’s worth paying closer attention to how much you’re consuming and what effects you might be feeling.”
— Lindsey Getz is a freelance writer based in Royersford, Pennsylvania.
It’s Not Just Chocolate Powder. You Shouldn’t Be Snorting Anything, Doctors Say
Coco Loko, a new product containing chocolate and energy-drink ingredients all ground into a powder, was made to be snorted. According to the website, doing so gives the user a “steady rush of euphoric energy and motivation that is great for party goers to dance the night away without a crash.”
Not surprisingly, doctors are warning against using the product—which is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because it is marketed as a supplement, not as a food or drug—because they don’t know how the human body will respond to snorting the ingredients in the powder. “It sounds like a terrible idea,” says Dr. Richard Lebowitz, an associate professor at New York University’s Department of Otolaryngology.
But chocolate powder isn’t the only potentially dangerous thing to snort. According to Lebowitz, any type of powder can cause adverse reactions to a person’s nasal passage. “You have to really look at effects on the nose itself, not just the effect of the medication.”
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Snorting appeals to some people because taking medicine through the nose is a fast way to deliver drugs—legal and otherwise—into the bloodstream. “Things are very well absorbed through the nose,” Lebowitz says. “They aren’t broken down by the stomach, so it’s a great way to get into the system.”
But the human nose is not designed to snort powder. Snorting powder of any kind can lead to inflammation of the nasal lining, infection in the lungs and blockages of respiratory tracts and nasal airways. This occurs because powders are particle materials and can often have additional materials mixed in them that cause further deterioration, Lebowitz says.
Some drugs can safely delivered through the the nasal passages. Nasal sprays and other inhalation solutions—which are regulated by the FDA—are not as risky to the nose because they contain liquid, which is gentler on the naturally moist nose, Lebowitz says. “It’s a liquid, so the nose doesn’t see it as a foreign body and absorbs it better.”
The damaging potential side effects don’t stop some people from snorting all kinds of powders. Throughout his career, Lebowitz has seen patients who have snorted illicit drugs, such as cocaine, heroin or prescription medication like Oxycodone or Ritalin. He says it’s not often the drug itself that causes problems when snorted: it’s extra stuff added to the drugs that do the real nasal harm. A person who often snorts something like cocaine can get holes in their septum or crusted skin inside their nasal passage, often because of a powdered material that is added to the drug. Impurities added to cocaine can include powdered laundry detergent, caffeine and laxatives, according to the American Addiction Centers.
“The inside of someone’s nose who has done a lot of cocaine is a big mess,” Lebowitz says. “It’s more from the impurities.”
Destroyed or permanently damaged nasal airways have long-term consequences, because the nose filters air as it goes into the lungs. “The nose conditions the air you breathe in, in addition to cleaning it,” Lebowitz says. “If it’s not doing its job, the air you breathe into your lungs isn’t as good for you.”
Nick Anderson, owner of Legal Lean Co., which makes Coco Loko, says snorting the powder is safe as long as people follow the product guidelines: be age 18 or older, and don’t snort more than the 350 milligrams in each packet.
“If anybody is concerned, I just say, do things in moderation,” Anderson says. To health professionals cautioning against Coco Loko, he says: “They just gotta do more research. Things aren’t always what they seem.”
Coco Loko isn’t the only recent powder to hit pop culture. In the latest season of Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, prison inmates decide to snort coffee in an effort to stay awake. (It doesn’t go well: they end up violently ill and unable to sleep.) Lebowitz does not know anyone in real life who has snorted coffee, but says it would be more useful to “just drink a Red Bull.”
Write to Mahita Gajanan at [email protected]
From that article,
> The threshold of caffeine toxicity appears to be around 400 mg/day in healthy adults
That’s only about 4 cups of coffee, man! Or just two “NoDoz”.
The article does not mention snorting caffeine. It seems reasonable to me to predict that if people starting snorting caffeine in an effort to get greater neuropharmacalogical effects, it would be pretty easy to go over 400mg.
There are few (if any?) documented deaths from caffeine overdose from drinking coffee (or even energy drinks), probably because the delivery mechanism means you need to drink a lot of beverage to get that much caffeine (8+ cups of coffee is really gonna fill up your stomach etc.). There ARE documented deaths from caffeine overdose from caffeine pills etc. though. Mechanism of delivery matters. The range between usual caffeine dose and an amount that can be dangerous is smaller than most people think (in that respect similar to aspirin and acetaminophen).
I am not sure what you mean by “to the point of effect”, but I don’t believe the literature you cite supports your claim that “You can snort caffeine to the point of effect and healthy individuals will be fine.” Method of delivery does matter, in part because it effects practical dosages.
In fact, we don’t need to guess, while as far as I know nobody’s snorting it, highly-concentrated caffeine in powder/granule form (presumably similar to what we’d hypothetically imagine people snorting) _is_ documented as dangerous:
> “FDA Warns Consumers About Pure and Highly Concentrated Caffeine”
> “The FDA advises consumers to avoid pure and highly concentrated caffeine sold in bulk as powdered and liquid dietary supplements.”
> “It can be extremely difficult to accurately measure pure and highly concentrated caffeine, and you can easily consume a dangerous or even lethal amount.”
> “Dietary supplements consisting of pure or highly concentrated caffeine are potentially dangerous, and serious adverse events can result, including death.”
> “On May 27, his brother found him unresponsive on their living room floor. In an effort to increase his energy, Mr. Stiner had used caffeine powder a friend had purchased on Amazon, but miscalculated the dosage, overdosed and died. The medical examiner said the cause of death was “cardiac arrhythmia and seizure, due to acute caffeine toxicity due to excessive caffeine ingestion.””
Snorting Chocolate Powder Not a Smart Thing to Do
Snorting this product (or other foreign substances) can lead to obstruction of the nasal and sinus passages, which can cause infection.
If the powder makes it farther down into the throat and lungs, this can lead to other complications, including pneumonia, granulomas, and bronchitis.
Put simply, the nose is not designed to snort foreign substances.
Particulate matter can have an eroding effect on the septum, the soft piece of cartilage that separates the two nostrils. This can result in a deviated septum or even a collapsed nasal passage in some users.
“The things that you inhale into your lungs aren’t expelled like when you eat something, they are actually filtered out … they never really leave the body, so to speak,” Wu said.
For people with asthma, it may exacerbate symptoms or bring on an attack.
It is also worth noting that sharing bills, straws, or other accessories to snort drugs puts users at risk of certain blood-borne illnesses, including hepatitis C and HIV.
Wu also cautioned that, as with any dietary supplement, Coco Loko may have unforeseen interactions in those who are taking medication or have preexisting medical conditions.
Both prescription drugs, most commonly steroid allergy sprays, and illicit drugs can be consumed through snorting because the mucous membranes will absorb them into the bloodstream.
However, with an unregulated substance, there is significantly more risk involved.
Urging the FDA to investigate
New York Congressman Chuck Schumer voiced concern this week, asking the FDA to launch an investigation into the product.
“The math for the FDA is clear: This suspect product has no clear health value,” Schumer said. “It is falsely held up to be chocolate, when it is a powerful stimulant. And they market it like a drug — and they tell users to take it like a drug by snorting it. It is crystal clear that the FDA needs to wake up and launch a formal investigation into so-called Coco Loko before too many of our young people are damaged by it.”
A spokesperson from the FDA informed Healthline that they were “not prepared to issue a determination regarding whether and how this product is subject to FDA jurisdiction at this time. In reaching that decision, FDA will need to evaluate the product labeling, marketing information, and any other information pertaining to the product’s intended use.”
The product’s website states Coco Loko is for adults, and advises that it is not recommended for children or pregnant women. However, some critics, like Schumer, believe customers under the age of 18 are the real consumers.
Coco Loko was created by Legal Lean, a Florida-based company that sells other legal highs, including its flagship product and namesake.
Legal Lean seemingly attempts to mimic the look and effects of codeine cough syrup, a commonly abused form of opioid pain medication.
For a simple buzz, it just doesn’t make sense to health experts.
“One of the things that baffles me is that the reason why people are doing this is to get a buzz or a caffeine high. Why would you deprive yourself of eating a chocolate or having a cup of coffee? It seems strange to me,” said Wu.
When Davis Cripe died in his South Carolina classroom last May, it was a shock to everyone who knew him. He was just 16, and healthy. His death made no sense, especially when the coroner said that he’d been killed by a substance most of us consume daily: caffeine.
It’s well-known that caffeine can, in extreme cases, be deadly. About 10 grams of the stuff will kill most people, making caffeine powder an easily accessible (albeit incredibly uncommon and likely painful) choice for suicide. But a typical cup of coffee has less than 100 milligrams—or just 0.1 grams—of caffeine. In other words, you’d need to drink 100 cups of coffee in rapid succession to hit the deadly dose.
For people without underlying medical conditions, it’s exceptionally hard to die from drinking caffeinated beverages because of how (relatively) little caffeine they contain. This is something King Gustav III of Sweden found out in the 18th century, when he conducted an experiment to see whether tea or coffee kills faster. Both test subjects lived well into old age, far outliving King Gustav and the researchers conducting the experiment.
Alexander Roslin / Wikipedia Sweden’s King Gustav III, an early caffeine skeptic.
The local coroner said his staff determined Cripe had died from a “caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia.” It wasn’t from downing a succession of caffeine pills; it was, the coroner said, because Cripe drank a combination of a large Mountain Dew, some unknown energy drink, and a cafe latte within a few hours.
There’s little scientific evidence suggesting that even high amounts of caffeinated beverages can cause heart arrhythmias. A 2016 study found that patients at high risk for arrhythmias could imbibe 500 mg of caffeine in a five-hour span without raising their risk of irregular heartbeat. And a meta-analysis of previous studies found no evidence outside of animal studies, where the animals were given exorbitantly high doses—on the order of 35 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. That would be the equivalent of about 2,550 mg—or 25 cups of coffee—for a 160-pound (73 kg) adult.
Scientists and medical professionals concerned about caffeine generally focus on energy drinks, since they’re wildly popular but contain lots of ingredients that interact in unknown ways, or on combinations of caffeine and alcohol, which get people drunker even as they continue to feel sober. But while energy drinks may be a relatively new concoction, coffee and tea and other traditional caffeinated beverages are not. And there’s extensive research showing it’s wrong to suggest typical caffeine consumption is dangerous.
How caffeine affects the body
When you drink a caffeinated beverage, the chemical immediately dissolves and spreads through all the fluids in your body. The caffeine crosses into the brain within minutes, where it latches onto proteins that normally receive adenosine, a chemical that makes you drowsy.
David Elmenhorst / Journal of Nuclear Medicine Caffeine blocks receptors in the brain that would normally attach to adenosine, an enzyme that makes you drowsy.
Caffeine reaches its peak blood concentration between 45 and 60 minutes after you drink it. As time goes on, your liver degrades the caffeine in your blood, meaning there’s less and less to elbow out the adenosine molecules that make you tired. So before too long, you start to get sleepy again. In three to five hours, about half the caffeine from that cup of morning joe will have degraded, so it might feel like time for a refill.
In addition, your brain receptors for adenosine are linked with receptors for dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical. Coffee makes you chipper not just because it’s fighting off drowsiness, but also because it makes it easier for dopamine to do its job, which in turn increases your feelings of pleasure.
But dopamine is also the key ingredient to addiction; drugs like cocaine and amphetamine flood parts of the brain with it to hijack the brain’s reward system—the mental circuitry of motivation. After getting flooded with those feelings of pleasure, you’ll naturally seek those good feelings over and over again. Motivation is important to keeping you alive, like when your brain is making you eat. But it’s not so good when it’s making you snort just one more line at 4am when the bar is trying to close.
Caffeine addiction…or not
If you focus just on dopamine, caffeine looks sort of like really weak cocaine. It’s clear caffeine has reinforcing effects; drinking coffee makes you want to drink more coffee. What isn’t clear is whether it’s truly addictive.
“Caffeine-use disorder” is mentioned in the fifth and latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the professional bible for identifying and categorizing mental health issues. But caffeine-use disorder isn’t a fully recognized diagnosis in the DSM-5; it’s a proposal, currently under consideration for further study.
DSM–5 / American Psychiatric Association The proposal for “Caffeine use disorder” in the DSM-5, where it’s included as a possible diagnosis that demands further study.
It’s a contentious topic. If caffeine-use disorder became a recognized diagnosis, it would appear alongside opioid-use disorder, tobacco-use disorder, and other often-deadly addictions. This could “minimize the severity of other substance-use disorders,” says Maggie Sweeney, a psychiatry instructor at Johns Hopkins University. Others agree. “It really trivializes other known addictions, such as smoking—we know those are clear addictions,“ says Marilyn Cornelis, an assistant professor at Northwestern University. “If we were to ask someone to cut out smoking and they gave that up for a week, they might still crave it…. Coffee’s a little different. You can think about someone cutting back on their coffee, and they’ve been able to do it for a month. I don’t think they’re going to go crazy if they walk into a room with a bunch of coffee drinkers.”
Addiction is typically understood to be the result of exposure to a substance that increases dopamine in particular brain structures. Caffeine makes the brain more sensitive to dopamine, but it doesn’t actually increase levels of the chemical in the brain. In a 2002 study, scientists at the US National Institute on Drug Abuse gave caffeine to rats and then looked at the key brain structure involved in dependence. They found an increase in dopamine. But a team of European researchers could not replicate the results, and concluded in 2007 the American team had misplaced their caffeine tube in the test rats. Then in 2015, a US National Institutes of Health team undertook a similar experiment but on humans, and found no dopamine increase. For some scientists, this is clear evidence that caffeine is not addictive.
Astrid Nehlig, a research director at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, points out that addictions, by definition, negatively impact people’s lives, but caffeine generally does the opposite. “You get dependent on caffeine, but why do you like caffeine?” says Nehlig. “Because it wakes you up, it increases your well being, in addition to helping you be productive, etcetera. And it’s also very often drank in social conditions. You meet with people, you have a coffee. So it’s also part of a kind of ritual.”
The benefits of caffeine
Caffeine’s short-term benefits are obvious. But studies show coffee does far more than help you focus and improve your mood.
For example, lifelong coffee drinkers are less likely to have Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s diseases. In addition, if you consume caffeine in the morning, it can help maintain circadian rhythms, keeping your body’s 24-hour internal clock consistent. When your circadian rhythms get out of whack, you’re at risk for all sorts of sleep disorders, as well as weight gain and mental health issues. (Of course, caffeine’s ability to affect your body’s internal clock is also why it might be bad to consume caffeine at night.)
In fact, some researchers suggest we should be drinking three or four cups of coffee a day, if we want to reap the full benefits of caffeine without losing sleep or feeling agitated. That said, everyone handles caffeine differently; for some people four cups in a day might keep them up all night. This, it turns out, is coded into your genetics.
In the past few years, researchers have identified specific variations in the human genome that enable certain people to metabolize caffeine faster. That explains why everyone’s experience with caffeine is different, and why any one-size-fits-all recommendation for caffeine is misguided. “For someone who can’t metabolize caffeine very quickly…one or two cups of coffee per day…might be equivalent to someone drinking eight cups a day,” says Cornelis.
Caffeine isn’t dangerous for most people, since we naturally stick to our limits
In a 2016 study, researchers discovered that people who drink the most coffee are also the people whose bodies have the genetic code to break caffeine down faster. In other words, the study sample population was already doing a good job self-regulating their intake. This suggests caffeine isn’t dangerous for most people, since we naturally stick to our limits. So when you get jittery or have trouble sleeping, you’ll simply take that as a sign to drink a bit less in the future. And meanwhile, you’ll be getting the daily benefits of caffeine, and perhaps even building up your body’s defenses against neurodegenerative disease.
In addition, it’s very uncommon for people to have trouble cutting back on caffeine, if they do it gradually—say, foregoing that sixth cup of coffee, giving their body a week to re-equilibrate to five cups, then undergoing the same experience to get down to four cups a day and settling there.
The one caveat is that this research applies to the way most adults consume caffeine—namely, drinking coffee to fight drowsiness or withdrawal-like symptoms. Children often react very differently to the drug, likely due to a number of factors: their brains are still developing, they’re consuming different types of caffeinated beverages, and they’re drinking them for different reasons.
Caffeine’s effect on children
Until recently, not many scientists focused specifically on how caffeine affects children. A little over a decade ago, Jennifer Temple, now director of the State University of New York-Buffalo’s Nutrition and Health Research Laboratory, noticed how scant the research was on the topic, and started conducting caffeine studies on adolescents, She discovered that young people, ages 8-17, consume caffeine less consistently than adults, but more importantly (pdf), they consume it for entirely different reasons than adults.
“It’s less about combating fatigue and more about things like, ‘I use it to study for a test, or I use it to be better at playing video games, or I use it to feel high,’” Temple says. “They use a language that’s much more about performance-enhancement or mood-elevation, whereas in adults, the language…is much more centered on withdrawal reversal—‘so I wake up in the morning, I don’t want to get a headache, I don’t want to feel sluggish, I’ll drink my coffee.’” Temple says there’s no evidence that small-to-moderate doses of caffeine are dangerous for 8-17 year-olds, but she generally recommends children avoid caffeine entirely, because they don’t need it to be functional day-to-day, and it can interfere with their sleep.
“It’s less about combating fatigue and more about… performance-enhancement or mood-elevation”
Animal studies, though, suggest caffeine could harm children in ways that go beyond disrupting sleep. Scientists found rats that began consuming caffeine as adolescents develop more anxiety, and exhibit stress-hormone levels reminiscent of people with PTSD. They didn’t find the same effect for adult rats that consumed caffeine. In one study from 2014, scientists found that adolescent rats exposed to caffeine become more sensitive to cocaine, suggesting caffeine might be a risk factor for hard-drug abuse later in life.
“I wouldn’t go as far as say it’s a gateway drug,” says Casey O’Neill, the lead author of the 2014 study, and currently at the Medical University of South Carolina. “I don’t think there is such a thing as this gateway effect.” However, O’Neill adds, if caffeine consumption makes people more sensitive to cocaine, they may be more likely to enjoy their first bump. And that could increase their odds of getting addicted.
Rats aren’t perfect analogs for people. The rodents metabolize caffeine exceptionally fast, so researchers have to give them extremely high doses of caffeine to mimic levels typically consumed by humans. And without human studies, it’s impossible to fully substantiate claims that caffeine is actually harmful to children, or to confirm suspected health benefits. If you really wanted to determine whether caffeine is dangerous for children, you’d need to give kids consistent doses of the drug for months or years—which would be an ethical (and logistical) nightmare.
That leaves an information gap where tragedies like Davis Cripe’s death take on more meaning than they probably should. It remains unclear why exactly Cripe died. But even if caffeine did play a role in Cripe’s death, it was likely a one-in-a-billion case, or the result of an unidentified interaction between some of the many substances he consumed so quickly. For nearly everyone on the planet, the level of caffeine Cripe consumed would have been innocuous. In reality, it’s impossible to make general claims about the dangers of caffeine based on one boy’s death—particularly when, for so many people, caffeine appears to be beneficial.
Turbo Snort Energy Nasal Spray
Caffeine Level 1mg Serving Size 1 spray Caffeine StrengthCorrection? Send Feedback
On spray of Turbo Snort Energy Shot Nasal Spray delivers 1mg of caffeine through the nasal membranes. This method has a high absorption rate which therefore results in fast effects despite the small dosage.
Each spray also delivers an amino acid blend. Turbo Snort is spearmint scented and also helps to clear sinuses.
There are 223 metered sprays per bottle and the recommended dose is 2-4 sprays per nostril.
Brandon was sent a bottle to try. Here’s what he had to say.
I gave myself 2 good sprays in each nostril and got a very refreshing peppermint scent although it did make my nose run a bit. My nasal rush lasted me about two and a half hours before fading out with no crash.
This is pretty impressive since he only received a mere 4mg of caffeine.
Where To Buy Turbo Snort Energy Nasal Spray
Turbo Snort Caffeine Energy Nasal Spray
Available from Amazon / Greensations
Turbo Snort Caffeine Energy Nasal Spray – 3 Bottle Deal
Available from Amazon / Turbo Snort
Turbo Snort Caffeine Energy Nasal Spray – 2 Bottle Deal
Available from Amazon / Turbo Snort
Turbo Snort Caffeine Energy Nasal Spray – 3 Bottle Deal by Turbo Snort
Available from Amazon /
Ingredients in Turbo Snort Energy Nasal Spray
Caffeine, Creatine, Glutamine and Taurine
Turbo Truffles 150mg
How Does It Compare With Other Foods?
Caffeine per Item 200180160140 120100806040 200 Nasal Spray of Turbo Snort Energy Nasal Spray No Doz Awake Chocolate Hershey’s Special Dark Bars Jolt Gum Data Sources: http://www.greensations.com/Turbo-Snort-Energy-Shot-Nasal-Spray-p/turbo.htm
What Is Snorting Cocaine?
Cocaine is a stimulant originally harvested from the Coca plant in countries like Peru and Bolivia. It can be ingested in many ways, but the most common is snorting a powdered form. Injection and smoking crack are also common, but their more invasive and involved nature leads to snorting being more popular. Small amounts of cocaine are called “bumps”, which are commonly snorted off of keys or long finger nails. Larger amounts of cocaine are usually arranged into straight lines to be snorted, usually through a straw shaped implement, often a rolled up bill. These doses are usually referred to as “lines” or “rails.”
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Cocaine came into medical use when doctors discovered its anesthetic properties in an era with few other forms of anesthesia. It has since been phased out in favor of more effective and less dangerous drugs. Cocaine paved the way for anesthetic research and use, leading to many drugs derived from cocaine like lidocaine, ropivacaine, and more. With very few current practical uses in modern medicine, cocaine became an extremely popular drug. Illegal use hit stratospheric heights in the 1980s and 1990s alongside crack cocaine, but has since decreased. A national survey by the Delphi Health Group found that in 2017 5.9 million people admitted to having used cocaine within a year of the survey. Adults from 18 to 25 represent the largest group of cocaine users in the United States.
Why Do People Snort Cocaine?
Snorting cocaine is not the fastest way to absorb it and feel the high. Though it’s not as fast as smoking or injecting, the drug’s effects can be felt for longer when it’s snorted. In order for the cocaine to take hold, it must enter the bloodstream and flow to your brain. As you inhale the cocaine, it coats the soft tissues in the nose and gets absorbed into the blood stream. To make it to the brain, the cocaine flows in the blood it’s been absorbed into, first traveling to the lungs. The lungs incorporate oxygen into the blood and send it to the heart to be pumped to the brain and the rest of the body.
Once in the brain, cocaine binds to certain receptors and guarantees that dopamine (the feel-good chemical) isn’t being removed as it normally would be. The body naturally creates dopamine when you engage in activities it enjoys like getting exercise, eating food, and having sex. The end stages of your body’s use of dopamine include specialized proteins which remove it from your brain’s receptors in order to recycle it. Using cocaine essentially blocks those recycling proteins from accessing the dopamine, causing its effects to continue. This interaction creates the “euphoric” effect cocaine exhibits upon use. The way the body processes cocaine may seem complicated, but it only takes minutes to fully absorb the drug and feel its effects.
Snorting cocaine in its powdered form and coating the upper nasal cavity.
Once coated, the sensitive mucous membranes in the nose will absorb the cocaine into the blood stream.
Cocaine binds to neural receptors increasing dopamine production and reducing the body’s ability to recycle excess dopamine.
The nose is a complex and important part of our body. It’s home to 400 different types of receptors responsible for distinguishing smells, and humans can tell the difference between 1 trillion different scents. The nose also helps us taste food and, to some extent, it filters the air we breathe. As air comes in through the nostrils, it flows past small hairs and mucus membranes which act together to catch and lock down particles like dust and dirt that don’t belong in the lungs.
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Dangers of Snorting Cocaine
First Signs of Damage
Though they can all lead to overdose, each different method of ingesting cocaine carries its own set of risks. Snorting, in particular, affects the tissues in the nose directly. If cocaine use becomes regular, soft tissue damage will progressively worsen. An early symptom is a runny nose, indicative of sinus infection, which can be a result fo the drug itself, or dirty environments and tools used when snorting cocaine.
While unpleasant, a sinus infection poses no serious threat, but when snorting cocaine more regularly, the nose will not have time to heal. Chronic irritation leads to serious issues on its own, but cocaine is also known for its ability to greatly reduce blood flow to an affected area. To heal an infection or irritation, the body needs to circulate blood to the area, but if the cocaine is restricting access to the damaged tissues, they will eventually die.
Life Changing Repercussions
The soft tissues in the upper nose and palette will suffer first, causing holes to appear throughout the nasal cavity, which will cause further issues. A frequently cited effect of cocaine abuse is the eroding of the septum (tissue separating your nostrils), which causes the ridge of the nose to buckle. This damage is known as the saddle nose deformity and it means that soft tissue and now cartilage are being destroyed. As issues in the nose worsen, they can often spread to nearby organs. In cases of severe abuse, the untreated sinus infections spread to the eyes, which can permanently damage vision, cause infection of the brain and spine, and even result in hearing loss. The head groups a number of important organs together, and regularly snorting cocaine can cause issues that spread from the nose to all other parts of the head.
Help is Available
Are you or a loved one suffering from an addiction to cocaine? Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help today. Professional help is available and ready to help you on the road to recovery.
In college, I used to measure out small amounts of caffeine powder on a milligram scale, put it in a gel cap, pop, and repeat throughout the day. A two-inch tall mountain of the dusty substance sat Scarface-style on a piece of paper atop my then-boyfriend’s desk next to the scale and alongside a baggie of caps. I was dosing on average 30 or so milligrams a piece, three to four times daily, whenever I began to feel sleepy. Periodically, the caps would open before I swallowed and my mouth would be filled with the harsh, bitter taste of powdered caffeine.
When I moved back to Brooklyn after graduating, I quit cold turkey without giving it any thought —unlike its liquid equivalent, there is virtually no routine in terms of powdered caffeine consumption; it is to coffee what Soylent is to food. I didn’t even realize I had been hooked until I came down with the cold sweats, migraines and body convulsions a few days after being caffeine-free, as I went through withdrawal from my 120-ish mg daily caffeine habit. I was able to find a $10 bottle of 100 200 mg capsules (so, roughly five cents a pill) in the supplement section at a local pharmacy, and my body was immediately appeased. From then on, I stuck to pre-capped caffeine over the powdered stuff, for no reason but ease (though there are safety reasons to make this switch too—more on those later). In powder more than liquid form, caffeine is powerful stuff: here’s what to know before you dose, for coffee haters and lovers alike.
The Basics of Caffeine Safety
Caffeine is the most commonly used psychoactive legal drug in the world. More than half of American adults consume over 300 mg of caffeine a day, making it America’s most popular drug by a significant margin, according to Villanova University. Your average 8 oz cup of coffee probably has around 100 mg of caffeine; a 20 oz venti Starbucks Blonde Roast has 475 mg; a can of Diet Coke has 76 mg; a shot of 5-hour Energy has 200 mg, all according to this chart from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
There are an infamous number of contradictory health studies proclaiming various pros and cons of caffeine: it causes cancer, it cures cancer, it shortens your lifespan, it’ll make you live longer, etc. One thing health professionals are generally in agreement about, though, is that moderate caffeine consumption is not a health risk. In the shorter term, it’s important to be aware that there is such a thing as ingesting a dangerous and even fatal amount of caffeine.
From liquid caffeine alone, it is hard to OD – you’d need to drink tens of cups of coffee one after the other. When severe caffeine overdoses do happen (and they are quite rare, especially for such a universal drug) they are obvious: vomiting, abdominal pain and seizures are all symptoms, according to Vox. Always call 911 for seizures or other serious symptoms. For a mild overdose, when your symptoms are just the jitters, you’re probably fine to stay calm, drink some water, and wait it out. For anything in between, or if you’re not sure, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or use their online tool.
Here’s some basic caffeine safety info:
- A healthy adult is recommended to take no more than 400 mg a day of caffeine.
- An 8 oz cup of coffee usually has about 100 mg or less caffeine.
- 10,000 – 14,000 mg of caffeine is considered to be a lethal dose by the FDA.
Today, my plastic container of Nutricost caffeine pills sits in the corner of my medicine cabinet. It is labeled “Dietary Supplement” in small print and decorated with a blue metallic stripe and the molecular structure of trimethylxanthine, the chemical compound which composes pure caffeine. The container initially contained 50,000 mg of caffeine—enough to constitute a fatal dose for at least three people, based on the FDA’s lethal caffeine estimate of 10,000 to 14,000 mg per full-grown, healthy human. I generally limit my own consumption to one 200 mg pill every morning—well under 400 mg a day (the equivalent of four or so 8 oz cups of coffee), the maximum recommended amount for a healthy adult. While bottles of 100 mg caffeine pills are available, it’s rare to see smaller doses.
Stick to Pills, not the Powder
In response to the 2014 deaths of 18-year-old Logan Stiner and 24-year-old James Wade Sweatt due to excessive caffeine ingestion, the FDA banned some pure caffeine products this April. This comes less than three years after the FDA issued warning letters to some caffeine powder producers in 2015. “It should be as illegal as heroin,” the mother of Stiner told NBC of caffeine powder in an interview following his death.
In a press release, the FDA made clear that it sees adulterated and poorly labeled bulk powder products as the main products posing health risks. At one point in the release, the FDA very specifically calls out the issue of caffeine packaged “with tiny measuring scoops” purporting to constitute a single dose because, when the caffeine is shared among “multiple people living separately,” some consumers are deprived of “the benefit of the measuring scoop.”
A quick search on Amazon reveals the unclearly worded, immediately effective impact of the FDA’s ban: powdered caffeine not pre-packaged into individually dosed pills and tablets has been virtually illegalized, relegated to eBay and other second hand retailers in terms of online purchasability.
One favorite fact thrown around in headlines is that a “teaspoon” of pure caffeine powder can be fatal. This is true, but more importantly it elucidates that most people are so unfamiliar with proper caffeine dosage that they are literally eyeballing the quantity they consume, or using kitchen utensils to measure it out. The difference between a deadly amount of powder and the amount in most cups of coffee is not visibly that different—a properly calibrated scale is necessary for any level of precision. Bottom line: powdered caffeine is increasingly difficult to come by, and requires extra tools and precision to consume in safe doses, so for both convenience and safety’s sake, you’re much better off sticking to taking it in pill form.
You’ll be saving money—and the environment
The reason I prefer pills to coffee is simple, if sacrilegious: I don’t like the taste of coffee. Also, I enjoy the hyperawareness verging on mania which comes from taking a full dose at once. This is obviously not for everyone, and when I have taken too much caffeine, and breached the 400 mg recommendation, I’ve become predictably frantic and fidgety, had heart palpitations, experienced clammy palms and heightened anxiety. Being addicted to caffeine pills and disliking coffee is also quite unintentionally antisocial. In liquid form, the drug constitutes one of humanity’s most unifying routine experiences. The way I take it, I’m usually dry swallowing a small white pill in silence.
There are some bonuses to caffeine pills, though, for those who prefer them, including price and environmental impact. My caffeine addiction costs under $50 annually, while the average American worker spent $1,100 a year on coffee in 2012, according to one report at the time. Additionally, while I recycle two or three plastic bottles a year, there is much waste involved in the coffee industry, with K-Cups and other single-use coffee pods frequently slammed and banned for being un-recyclable. The vast majority of coffee cups are still disposable and bad for the environment, as well. Another plus: caffeine pills have no calories (although the label on my bottle does list gelatin, rice and flour as additional ingredients) and don’t present an opportunity to serve as a vessel for creamer and other sugary sweeteners. And by all accounts, caffeine pills are better for you and less dangerous than energy drinks, which often combine large doses of caffeine with lots of sugar and are sometimes ill-advisedly mixed with alcohol. If we as a society learned anything from original recipe Four Loko, it is that humanity blindly trusts widely distributed branded cans, even when they contain more or less literal poison. The safety of combining caffeine and taurine, an ingredient which energy drinks often contain in large doses, is still in question. The consumption of energy drinks by minors is not: it’s bad, and yet there are no age restrictions when it comes to purchasing energy drinks (in this country).
There’s no evidence that quitting is a much different experience for consumers of caffeine in its liquid versus its pill form, although the sterilized experience of popping your daily cup of joe means there isn’t much routine and no sugar to miss. Tolerance build-up, too, is more or less the same: the chemical of caffeine is no more addictive as a powder than it is as a drink – to achieve the same effect, you’ll always need more and more, no matter the form you’re ingesting caffeine in.
Looking to switch? Firstly, know that everyone will think you are a monster. The social stigma is easily the most difficult part. Finding the pills is easy: most chain stores with a pharmacy section (Target, Walmart, Rite Aid) carry them, as do some local pharmacies, and they are of course available online, which is unfortunately the best place to buy if you are picky about which brand you prefer. As with most things in life, if you buy in bulk, it’s cheaper. When consuming, do be very be mindful of the 400 mg a day recommendation—two to four pills per day, depending on the brand and dosage. Surpassing it is quite uncomfortable for many, and you’ll feel more jittery and anxious than awake. Despite being much more similar to caffeine powder than coffee, pre-packaged caffeine pills are not very dangerous unless you are a literal child or take a handful at once.
The undesirability of caffeine pills and the appeal of coffee are difficult to argue against. One has a reputation for being a study drug to fuel all-nighters, the other for being a vital pleasure of adult life. While the environmental, cost and calorie impacts of society switching its preference to caffeine pills would be very real, if you’re making the leap, be prepared for the fact that you’ll likely be making it alone.