America's Favorite Drug Habit

Caffeine is a tasteless substance and a natural constituent of a number of plants including coffee, tea, kola nuts, and mate. Caffeine is also found in products made from these plants, such as cola and pepper-type drinks. . .

-dentist in Carmichael, California at the time this article was written

Caffeine is a tasteless substance and a natural constituent of a number of plants including coffee, tea, kola nuts, and mate. Caffeine is also found in products made from these plants, such as cola and pepper-type drinks.

The amount of caffeine normally present in a cup of coffee is about 90 milligrams. The standard of identity for soft drinks provides for the presence of caffeine in cola drinks in the amount of from 20 milligrams to 36 milligrams per six-ounce serving.

Various "stay awake" preparations on the market contain caffeine as the active ingredient. Food and Drug Administration examinations of these products show that each tablet contains about 110 milligrams of caffeine. The caffeine content of each tablet thus approximates that of a cup of coffee or tea, and the stimulating effect is essentially the same.

The PDA believes that when a person is tired he should rest rather than rely on a stimulant for carrying on physical activities. The PDA has strong reservations about the use of stimulant-type preparations while driving, since such stimulants temporarily mask mental or physical fatigue. The consequences may be dangerous.

The PDA also suggests to the manufacturer of these products that their label claims be limited to indicate use for the temporary relief of drowsiness, and that the label bear a warning that the use of caffeine is not a substitute for normal rest or sleep.

Information to this effect was given us long ago: "The use of tea and coffee is also injurious to the system. . . . Tea is poisonous to the system. Christians should let it alone. The influence of coffee is in a degree the same as tea, but the effect upon the system is still worse. Its influence is exciting, and just in the degree that it elevates above par it will exhaust and bring prostration below par. . . . The second effect of tea drinking is headache, wakefulness, palpitation of the heart, indigestion, trembling of the nerves, with many other evils." 1

Coffee contains coffee oil, chlorogenic and caffeic acids, tannic acid, as many as thirty volatile ingredients, and a small percent age (1 to 2 percent) of caffeine. Caffeine seems to be the drug that provides the stimulating effect for which most individuals drink coffee and tea. It affects the heart and blood vessels as well as the kidneys and digestive tract.2

Let's consider a few facts about the effects of caffeine on the human mind and body.

Fatigue, Headache, Fever, and Nervousness

"The exciting effect of caffeine on the nerves replaces tiredness and a natural desire for sleep with abnormal mental alertness, wakefulness, and restlessness. The stimulation, which can be demonstrated by psychological tests, may produce nervous irritability and muscular tremor. Depression follows. Yet, in spite of its ability to whip the nerves to renewed activity, tests have shown that performance is lowered in work requiring fine coordination." 3

Upon observation of the afore mentioned facts, two University of Chicago doctors decided to make a study of habitual coffee drinkers. They were particularly interested in the traditional morning headache and letdown feeling from which many coffee drinkers suffer when they miss their morning cup. Caffeine was given to 20 male and two female students. When the drug was suddenly withdrawn from individuals used to caffeine stimulation daily, 55 percent developed extremely severe headaches. Another 29 percent developed definite head aches that did not require treatment. A few of those experimented on even experienced nausea and vomiting.4

It is obvious to most coffee drinkers that coffee drinking is a habit. The mental craving and nervousness when it is withheld make this fact clear. Because of its definite withdrawal headache pattern, coffee drinking has been cited by some investigators as a true addiction.5

Hobart A. Reimann is cited in Dental Abstracts as attributing low-grade fever and insomnia in some patients to a large caffeine intake. He says that in two different cases of seemingly reasonless insomnia and fever, all symptoms were stopped and patients restored to normal after caffeine intake was reduced in the diet.6

Dr. Dale C. Friend of the Massachusetts Medical Society is quoted in the Signs of the Times as saying that a person who drinks eight to twelve cups of coffee a day is a potential driving hazard because of his nervous reaction to the caffeine. He says: "Excessive use of coffee tends to make many people jumpy, jittery, and dizzy, and can become a factor in highway accidents." Two references in the Spirit of Prophecy support the validity of these discoveries. "Under the influence of these poisons [tea and coffee] the nervous system is excited; and in some cases, for the time being, the intellect seems to be invigorated, and imagination more vivid. . . . The nervous system has borrowed power from its future resources for present use, and all this temporary invigoration is fol lowed by a corresponding depression." 7

"Coffee is a hurtful indulgence. It temporarily excites the mind to unwonted action, but the after effect is sad prostration and exhaustion of the physical, mental, and moral forces. The mind be comes enervated, and unless through determined effort the habit is overcome, the activity of the brain is greatly lessened.

"In some cases it is as difficult to break up this tea-and-coffee habit as it is for the inebriate to discontinue the use of liquor." 8

Genetic Damage

According to Dr. Wolfram Ostertag, a German geneticist, coffee, tea, and certain soft drinks that contain caffeine may cause miscarriages and also may be passed to the unborn baby, causing mutations in its cells. Dr. Ostertag says that the possibility exists that caffeine is one of the most dangerous mutation-causing agents in man "since it is known that caffeine penetrates to the human germinal tissue and through the placenta! barrier to the human fetus." 9

Prof. Henry Eyring and Dr. Betsy Stover of the University of Utah propose the idea that caffeine damages the chromosomes also. Their statement is a bit more frightening to the normal man be cause it is a threat not to the unborn, but to the living. They tell us that this chromosome breakage may actually cause the body to degenerate and grow older sooner. 10

Stress and Coronary Disease

Dr. Samuel Bellet, of the Philadelphia General Hospital, has studied stress, its causes and its effects on the human body, for nearly thirty years. It is his belief that heavy caffeine consumption is inadvisable because of its stress-causing factors. 11

In recent years, a correlation be tween excessive coffee drinking and coronary disease has been reported. 12 One study made in 1963 by Dr. Oglesby Paul and associates at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago involved Western Electric Company employees between the ages of 40 and 55. Of the 1,108 men involved, 54 suffered coronary attacks during the four-year period studied. Nineteen per cent of the coronary victims were heavy coffee drinkers who consumed more than 200 cups of coffee a month. Of those who stayed healthy, only 7 percent were heavy coffee drinkers. 13

It has not been stated by any scientist that coffee or caffeine causes heart disease, but Dr. Samuel Bellet has found that caffeine is an extremely stressful substance. Dr. Bellet did some studies on this and found that caffeine, particularly when consumed in black coffee, is associated with an increase of "free fatty acids" in the human body. 14 The liver turns these freed fatty acids into another form of fat triglycerides and sends them back into the blood stream. Triglycerides, like cholesterol, are thought to increase one's susceptibility to coronary attack.


Dr. J. L. A. Roth, of the Graduate School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, says: "Caffeine is a potent and prolonged stimulant of hydrochloric acid in the duo denal patient and it also potentiates free acid response to all other known stimuli." 15

According to Dr. Roth, two small cups of coffee (10 1/2 ounces) will cause an increase of hydrochloric acid in the system of a normal individual for an hour, and in a person with a duodenal ulcer this effect may continue for more than two hours. Dr. Roth and his associates believe that coffee can be an aid to ulcer production, aggravation of an existing ulcer, and an interference to an ulcer under treatment. 16

Dr. M. I. Grossman, of the Veterans Administration Center, Los Angeles, says that caffeine is capable of producing high levels of gastric secretion without the buffering action of food. For this reason, he counsels all ulcer patients to permanently ban all caffeine-containing beverages from their diets.

"In relation to tea, coffee, tobacco, and alcoholic drinks, the only safe course is to touch not, taste not, handle not. The tend ency of tea, coffee, and similar drinks is in the same direction as that of alcoholic liquor and tobacco, and in some cases the habit is as difficult to break as it is for the drunkard to give up intoxicants." 17


1. Testimonies, vol. 2, pp. 64, 65.

2. Mervyn G. Hardinge, "Coffee Friend or Foe?" Review and Herald, July 2,1964, p. 2.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid., p. 3.

6. Hobart A. Reimann, "Caffeinism," Dental Abstracts, June, 1968, p. 373.

7. Child Guidance, p. 403.

8. Counsels on Health, pp. 441, 442.

9. "Caffeine and Babies," Signs of the Times, March, 1968, p. 4.

10. "Does Caffeine Speed Aging?" Today's Health, December, 1971, p. 7.

11. The National Observer, December 1,1969.

12. Ibid.

13. Hardinge, loc. cit.

14. The National Observer, December 1, 1969.

15. Hardinge, loc. cit.

16. Ibid.

17. Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 430.

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-dentist in Carmichael, California at the time this article was written

July 1975

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