The Effects of Stimulating Drinks on the Human Brain

15 November, 2020
Stimulating drinks have effects on the human brain. Discover them in this article!

The full effects of stimulating drinks on our brains aren’t yet known. This is a subject that’s currently being researched and, although some progress has been made, there are still many gray areas.

Even so, it’s a matter that needs our attention, because these types of drinks are consumed on a daily basis. Experts suspect that, under certain conditions, they could be potentially harmful. Because of that, we shouldn’t take this issue lightly.

Coffee and tea are stimulating drinks. However, the so-called energy drinks are on the rise and have been on the market for some time now.

Two questions that arise are: What effect do stimulant drinks have on the human brain? How can we reduce risks and problems? In the following article, we’ll try to explain these questions.

“Boys should abstain from all use of wine until their eighteenth year, for it’s wrong to add fire to fire.”

-Plato-

Coffee and tea: their effects on the body

Coffee and tea produce the basic effects of stimulating drinks on the human brain. They’re fully incorporated into the diet of millions of people around the world. In fact, many people claim that their day doesn’t start until they’ve drunk a cup of coffee.

Science suggests that a daily intake of no more than 200 mg of coffee or tea is actually good for your health. Caffeine and theine seem to slow down aging and act as a protective agent against certain types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s. Another effect of these stimulating drinks on our brain is to act on our warning mechanisms, leading us to be more alert and awake.

However, when people consume excessive amounts of these substances, adverse effects can also occur. Eventually, there’s a feeling of fatigue, tachycardia, trembling, or nausea, as well as different types of gastrointestinal effects. Caffeine and theine are addictive. If you stop taking the drinks abruptly, withdrawal symptoms are likely to appear.

Two people drinking coffee.

Strong stimulating drinks and their effects on the brain

Energy drinks, which generally contain taurine, have become a subject of study for science, as there are strong suspicions that they’re dangerous to health. This type of drink also contains high doses of caffeine, which reach the body very quickly when ingested. In the short and long term, this sudden discharge has several effects.

According to a 2014 study conducted by Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryland), energy drinks damage health in the long term. They mainly increase adrenaline levels, which also leads to an increase in heart rate. This creates higher levels of attention, but also more irritability and anxiety.

The same study noted that such drinks produce a sharp rise and fall in caffeine levels. This is why, some 12 to 24 hours after drinking it, withdrawal symptoms appear.

Another study conducted at the University of Bonn (Germany, 2013) confirms that heart contractions increase significantly and adrenaline levels rise one hour after consuming these drinks.

A man drinking an energy drink.

Disconcerting facts

A study published by the scientific journal PLOS ONE showed that serious brain damage was seven times more common in patients who had consumed five or more doses of energy drinks the previous week. Dr. Michael Cusimano, a neurosurgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital, expressed concern that brain damage is becoming increasingly common in young people.

Young people are the biggest consumers of energy drinks. It’s become common for them to drink them in times of stress or in order to improve their sports performance. We also know that people often mix them with alcohol in order to avoid their effects on the sympathetic nervous system.

Dr. Liane Schmidt and her colleagues published an article in the journal bioRxiv regarding an experiment they had conducted. In the experiment, a group of volunteers drank energy drinks and another group drank an ordinary soft drink. Although none knew what they were drinking, everyone thought they were energy drinks. After that, the researchers tested them to assess their cognitive performance. Compared to a previous test they had conducted, they all improved. In other words, there was a clear placebo effect.

The most important point here is that stimulant drinks change the way the human brain works. This is a fact we should take into account in order to moderate their consumption and, thus, avoid any undesirable effects they may produce.

  • Prada, D. B. (2005). Comentarios sobre las llamadas bebidas energizantes. Servicio de Toxicología del Sanatorio de Niños de Rosario. Argentina, 4 (53).