Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Caffeine Allergy

I have recently become aware of the fact that coffee, tea and hot chocolate are regularly served to people living in care homes.  This has inspired me to crack on with this article about caffeine that I promised some time ago to my blog readers and a few others.

First of all, Im no stranger to the effects of caffeine on a personal level having been a regular coffee drinker most of my life.  However, I gave it up together with all other forms of caffeine including chocolate and green tea over three years ago because of arthritis.  Every arthritis self-help book I have read suggested that caffeine was best eliminated from the diet.  I also wanted to quit this habit because it tended to give me other undesirable traits which as you will read below is a sign of caffeine allergy.

Caffeine is a bitter, white crystalline xanthine alkaloid that acts as a stimulant drug which primarily affects the central nervous system.  For those who would question the meaning of drug, it is basically a substance that alters the normal functioning of the body.

(1)  is a psychoactive substance which crosses the blood-brain barrier;
(2)  constricts the cerebral blood vessels in the brain
(3)  is a diuretic even at a cellular level and taxes the kidneys;
(4)  contributes to an unstable energy level;
(5)  can negatively affect your ability to go to sleep and the quality of your sleep;
(6)  is an addictive drug;
(7)  is a toxic substance, especially to the hormonal system, and in particular, to the adrenal glands (causes a fight or flight response which stresses the body);
(8)  changes the way the brain functions from an autonomous system to an automatic system, i.e., not good for complex reasoning ability;
(9)  disrupts our equilibrium by making us more easily agitated with a smaller attention span (attention deficit syndrome); and
(10) can cause personality distortions such as depression and aggression.

Looking at the list above, you can begin to understand that caffeine is a drug that may be helpful in emergency situations, but on a daily basis puts the body, mind and soul under pressure.

Since caffeine acts as a diuretic, in other words, makes us urinate more frequently, it is especially unsuitable for people with incontinence problems.  But generally, causing the body to urinate more frequently, either with a stimulant, alcohol or even just drinking too much water, results in the body losing nutrients before they can be assimilated into and used effectively by the body.  In this respect, caffeine may contribute to developing nutritional deficiencies.

One nutrient in particular is taxed by drinking coffee as well as by eating sugary foods or just putting sugar in your cuppa, and that is magnesium.  A burst of energy is gained with the intake of caffeine and sugar, but these substances greatly deplete magnesium which is vital for health.  At least 28 (some say 56) molecules of magnesium are needed to metabolise one molecule of glucose as found in sugar and also the many ever popular processed foods.

In addition, an interesting point made in an article by Lawrence Wilson MD (2011) is that when one’s calcium stores are used up or the body is unable to utilize the calcium that is in the blood, life ebbs out of the body. He draws an analogy to calcium representing the structure that holds the etheric energy which fuels us. Without the structure intact, the etheric energy seeps out like water from a bucket with a hole in it.  Again, caffeine and sugar appear to alleviate this problem in the short term by giving the user a quick fix, but in the long-term they exacerbate the situation because the body requires magnesium to utilize calcium which may be depleted by the consumption of caffeine and sugar.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) which is published by the American Psychiatric Association and widely used around the world states: “The four caffeine-induced psychiatric disorders include caffeine intoxication, caffeine-induced anxiety disorder, caffeine-induced sleep disorder, and caffeine-related disorder not otherwise specified (NOS).”  However, caffeinated drinks are big business (120,000 tons per year was the number I got in 2011, but the reference is no longer online) and the extent of the health issues associated with caffeine consumption are not well publicized or known by the general public.

My main point in this article is that one aspect of caffeine which is little considered is the fact that it is possible to be allergic to it.  First of all, it is of vital importance to remember that caffeine is a drug.  It is well known that the longer a person is exposed to a drug, the more likely they will develop a tolerance to it.  It is also addictive.

What is perhaps not so well known is that the person is more likely to develop an allergy to the substance as well. In the case of caffeine, if an allergy is developed, caffeine can’t be properly metabolized.  This allergy to caffeine causes it to be rapidly absorbed by all organs, and distributed into intracellular compartments and extracellular water.  In other words, the body is flooded with caffeine at the same time as it becomes sensitive to it.  However, because caffeine is a stimulant, it is difficult to recognise this allergic reaction.  If you think about how your awareness is heightened by slowing down and reducing distractions, you will be able to understand how stimulants that speed things up can mask underlying feelings and reactions.

Caffeine increases the amount of adrenaline in the blood stream.  There is scientific evidence to show that this can cause delusions.  And the breakdown of some adrenaline by-products may even mimic symptoms of schizophrenia.

To the allergic person, caffeine is a highly toxic substance.  Every single cup of coffee, cola, tea, piece of chocolate and any other source of caffeine intensifies this toxicity and has a cumulative effect.

The photo of the two spider webs demonstrates the effect of caffeine on the spider's ability to make a web.  The left well formed web was made by a spider without the effect of caffeine and the spider under the influence of caffeine produced the higglety pigglety one on the right.  Scientific evidence demonstrates caffeine has a similar effect on how the human brain responds when the body is unable to metabolise this chemical.  It is sobering to note that allergies are becoming more prevalent in our society because of the leaky gut syndrome. This condition will exacerbate a caffeine allergy as well.

The mental symptoms of caffeine allergy are due to what is specifically known as cerebral allergy.  It seems that the brain cells are particularly prone to adverse reaction to this toxicity which actually causes the brain function to be altered.  Because caffeine intake is so prevalent in western societies, I find it easy to notice some of the minimal reactions even in short conversations, such as disruptions in attention, lack of focus and comprehension, lack of organizational skills, abrupt shifting of activities, and argumentativeness. 

However, psychosis is becoming ever more prevalent as well.  To keep this article brief, I would like to refer readers to an interesting article called Caffeine Anaphylaxis: A Progressive Toxic Dementia (2002) by Ruth Whalen for further details along these lines.  Perhaps more common than causing delusions and schizophrenia in the allergic person, caffeine toxicity may be mistaken for bipolar disorder or extreme mood swings.

Other less severe symptoms of caffeine allergy are chattiness, repetitive thought and action (resembling obsessive compulsive disorder, OCD), restlessness, psychomotor agitation, alternating moods, anger, impulsiveness, aggression, omnipotence, delirium, buying sprees, lack of sexual inhibition, and loss of values.

In addition, depression and anxiety which are very prevalent in our society as I explained in another blog article called B’org Mentality, as well as, nervousness, visual problems, and dizziness may be caused by an allergic reaction to caffeine.

And if that’s not enough to make you stop and think twice before making a cuppa, caffeine can cause rhabdomyolysis!  OK, I hear you say, what’s that?  This is a condition where tissues are stressed and inflamed, including brain cells, and muscle fibres are broken down resulting in discharge of a protein substance called myoglobin into the bloodstream which is known to damage the kidneys.  People who have had skeletal muscle injury, such as being in a bad car accident, are at greater risk of this condition, but so are those without a traumatic injury who just injure themselves over a long period by regularly taking caffeine when allergic to it.  Those who have been seriously injured in a car accident and drink coffee regularly afterwards will likely hinder their recovery.

Withdrawal symptoms may be present up to 12 months, or longer. These symptoms would include memory loss, confusion, tremors, agitated states, insomnia or somnolence and moodiness.  I remember how difficult it was for me.  It took about two years until I was at the point of feeling fine without caffeine and being able to recognise how it adversely affected me with an odd cup of tea.

Besides the article by Ruth Whalen mentioned above and her 52 references, I list other references below which support what I’ve written in this article.  Due to limited time to spend on this research, I have not fully reviewed them all, but list them for anyone interested in researching this topic for themselves.  There are ways to test whether you are allergic to caffeine, but as it stands, I’m more than satisfied in drawing the conclusion that anyone suffering from learning disabilities, psychological problems, old age and even physical disabilities is well advised to avoid caffeine in their diet.  In fact, I would go as far as to say that caffeine should not be used on a regular basis by anyone.  If at all, it should be used only occasionally, the opposite of what our modern civilisation condones.

Further Reading:

1. McManamy MC, Schube PG. Caffeine Intoxication: Report of a Case the Symptoms of which Amounted to a Psychosis. N Eng Journ Med. 1936. 215:616-620.

2. Cherniske, Stephen. Caffeine Blues: Wake Up to the Hidden Dangers of America's #1 Drug. New York: Warner. 1998.

3. James, Jack E. Understanding Caffeine: A Biobehavioral Analysis. California: Sage. 1997.

4. Huxley, Aldous. The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell. New York: Harper & Row. 1954.

5. Spiller, Gene A., ed. The Methylxanthines Beverages and Foods: Chemistry, Consumption, and Health Effects. New York: Alan R. Liss Inc. 1984.

6. Sheinken, David, Schachter, Michael, Hutton, Richard. The Food Connection: How the Things You Eat Affect the Way You Feel-And What You Can Do About It. New York: Bobbs-Merrill Co. 1979.

7. Arieti, Silvano. Interpretation of Schizophrenia. New York: Basic Books, Inc. 1974.

8. Lukas, Scott. The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Drugs: Amphetamines: Danger in the Fast Lane. New York: Chelsea House. 1985.

9. Ruden, Ronald. The Craving Brain. New York: Harper Collins. 1997.

10. Fisher Scientific Corporation. Material Safety Data Sheet: Caffeine. NJ: MDL Information Systems. 1984. (Rev. 1995).

11. Nehlig, A. Are We Dependent upon Coffee and Caffeine?: A Review on Human and Animal. Neurosci and Biobehav Reviews. 1999. 23:563-576.

12. American Psychiatric Association. Caffeine-Induced Organic Mental Disorder. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual III-R (DSM III-R). 1987 and 1994.

13. Rapp, Doris. Is This Your Child?: Discovering and Treating Unrecognized Allergies in Children and Adults. New York: William Morrow & Co. 1991.

14. Crothers, T.D. Morphinism and Narcomanias from Other Drugs. Philadelphia: W. B. Sanders & Co. 1902.

15. Shen WW, D'Souza TC.Cola-induced psychotic organic brain syndrome: A Case Report. Rocky Mountain Med Journ.1979. 76: 312-313.

16. Snyder SH, Pamela Sklar. Psychiatric Progress Behavioural and Molecular Actions of Caffeine: Focus on Adenosine. J. Psychiat. Res.1984. 91-106.

17. Greden JF. Anxiety or Caffeinism: A Diagnostic Dilemma. Amer Journ Psychiatry. 1974. 1089-1092.

18. Lee MA, Flegel P, Greden JF, Cameron OG. Anxiogenic effects of caffeine on panic and depressed patients. American Journ Psychiatry. 1988. 145: 632-635.

19. Clementz GL, Dailey JW. Psychotropic effects of caffeine. Amer Fam Physician. 1988.37: 167-172.

20.Boulenger JP, Uhde TW, Wolff EA 3rd, Post RM. Increased sensitivity to caffeine in patients with panic disorders. Preliminary evidence. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1984. 41:1067-1071.

21. Bruce MS, Lader M. Caffeine abstention in the management of anxiety disorders. Psychol Med. 1989. 19: 211-214.

22. Lin AS, Uhde TW, Slate SO, McCann UD. Effects of intravenous caffeine administered to Healthy males during sleep. Depress Anxiety. 1997. 5: 21-28.

23. Nickell PV, Uhde TW. Dose-response of intravenous caffeine in normal volunteers. Anxiety.1994-1995. 1: 161-168.

24. Walsh, William E. The Complete Guide to Understanding and Relieving Your Food Allergies. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2000.

25. Neurology Department. New England Medical Center. Boston. 2001.

26. Meltzer, H. Muscle Enzyme Release in the Acute Psychosis. Arch General Psychiatry.1969.21: 102-112.

27. Meltzer, HY. Neuromuscular Abnormalities in the major mental illnesses .I. Serum enzyme studies. Res Publ Assoc Res Nerv Ment Disor. 1975. 54:165-188.

28. Crayton JW, Meltzer HY. Serum creatine phosphokinase activity in psychiatrically hospitalized children. Arch Gen Psychiatry.1976. 33: 679-681.

29. Meltzer, HY. Serum creatine phosphokinase in schizophrenia. Amer Journ Psychiatry.1976. 192-197.

30. Cohen DJ, Johnson W, Caparulo BK, Young JG. Creatine phosphokinase levels in children with severe developmental disturbances. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1976. 33: 683-686.

31. Faulstich ME, Brantley PJ, Barkemeyer CA. Creatine phosphokinase, the MMPI, and Psychosis. Amer Journ Psychiatry. 1984. 141: 584-586.

32. Balaita C, Christodorescu D, Nastase R, Iscrulescu C, Dimian G. The serum creatine-kinase as a biological marker in major depression. Rom Journ Neurol Psychiatry. 1990.28: 127-134.

33. Swartz CM, Breen KJ. Multiple muscle enzyme release with psychiatric illness. Journ Nerv Ment Disor.1990. 178: 755-759.

34. Nastase R, Balaita C, Iscrulescu C, Petrea A. The concentration of serum-kinase in manic attacks of primary affective psychoses. Rom Journ Neurol Psychiatry. 1993.31: 97-103.

35. Blumensohn R, Yoran-Hegesh R, Golubchik P, Mester R, Fluhr H, Hermesh H, Weizman A. Elevated serum creatine kinase activity in adolescent psychiatric inpatients on admission. Int Clinic Psychopharmacol. 1998. 13: 269-272.

36. Berkow, Robert , ed. Sixteenth Edition. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy. NJ:Merck Research Laboratories. 1992.

37. Craig, Sandy. Rhabdomyolyis. Emergency Medicine. May, 2001.

38. Davidson, Israel, and Henry John Bernard, eds. Todd-Sanford Clinical Diagnosis by Laboratory Methods. 15th Edition. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders. 1974.

39. Widmann, Frances K. Clinical Interpretation of Laboratory Tests. Philadelphia: F. A. Davis Co. 1983.

40. Richards, Jr. Rhabdomyolsis and Drugs of Abuse. J Emerg Med. 2000.
19: 51-56.

41. Wrenn KD, Oschner I. Rhabdomyolysis induced by caffeine overdose. Ann Emerg Med. 1989. 18: 94-97.

42. Lucas PB, Pickar David, Kelsoe, John, Rapaport Mark, Pato Carlos, Hommer, Daniel. Effects of Acute Administration of Caffeine in Patients with Schizophrenia. Biol Psychiatry.1990. 28: 35-40.

43. Jefferson, JW. Lithium tremor and caffeine intake: two cases of drinking less and shaking more. Journ Clin Psychiatry. 1988. 49: 72-73.

44. Mester R, Toren P, Mizrachi I, Wolmer L, Karni N, Weizman A.Caffeine withdrawal increases lithium blood levels. Biol Psychiatry. 1995. 37: 348-350.

45. Tondo L, Rudas N. The course of a seasonal bipolar disorder influenced by caffeine.Journ Affect Disor. 1991. 22: 249-251.

46. Headlee, Raymond, and Wells, Bonnie Corey. Psychiatry in Nursing. New York: Rhinehart & Co. 1948.

47. Shiozaki T, Sugiyama K, Nakazato K, Takeo T. Effects of tea extracts, catechin and caffeine against type-I allergic reaction. Yakugaku Zasshi. 1997. 117: 448-454.

48. Shin HY, Lee CS, Chae HJ, Kim HR, Baek SH, An NH, Kim MH. Inhibitory effects of anaphylactic shock by caffeine in rats. Int J Immunopharmacol. 2000. 22: 411-418.

49. Massachusetts Poison Control System. Caffeine. Clinical Toxicology Review. Nov. 1994.

50. Hatta K, Takahashi T, Nakamura H, Yamashiro H, Endo H, Fujii S, Fukami G, Masui K, Asukai N, Yonezawa Y. Abnormal physiological conditions in acute schizophrenic patients on emergency admission: dehydration, hypokalemia, leukocytosis and elevated serum muscle enzymes. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 1998. 248: 180-188.

Photos credit: 1,3,7-trimethyl-1H-purine-2,6(3H,7H)-dione, 3,7-dihydro-1,3,7-trimethyl-1H-purine-2,6-dione, and effect on spiders.