Printer Friendly

"Coffee and love awake." (physical effect of caffeine)

"Coffee and Love awake."

One of the nationally syndicated advisers to the public on love and family problems recently received a letter from one of her daily readers inquiring:

"Does coffee improve the sex life of the elderly?"

Her spontaneous response was:

"Of course it does! It keeps them awake."

She then proceeded to quote the result of a recent survey to the effect that 62 percent of married coupled over 60, who drank coffee, reported an active sex life; while only 37 percent of those over 60 who did not sip coffee continued this activity. Oddly, there was no differentiation between regular and decaffeinated, but credit must be given to caffeine.

It is well recognized that this business among our senior citizens requires as much mental effort as physical exertion. How then does coffee perform its cerebral effect?

Physiologically active agents like caffeine, upon ingestion, are rapidly absorbed from the stomach and enter the blood stream. They are then widely distributed through the arteries to the capillaries which deliver them to various organs and tissues. Caffeine has different actions on different parts of the body. For example, it constricts the blood vessels near the skin, reducing the quantity of flow over the body surface. This constriction after a cup of coffee can curtail normal perspiring which could cause over-heating on a hot summer day, especially while sunning on the beaches. In other body centers, caffeine may relax blood vessels, permitting freer circulation.

Cerebral effects of physiologic agents exhibit even greater differential effects. While capillaries in most sections of the body readily pass blood-born substances to surrounding tissue, blood vessels in the brain are constructed in a way that blocks most active transference. Obviously, some compounds like alcohol and caffeine cross the blood brain barrier easily, but these are the exceptions.

The blood brain barrier exists to protect the brain from fluctuating levels of physiologically active agents in the blood stream. Capillaries in the human brain have a structure that is different from these small blood vessels in other parts of the body. The cells that form the walls of capillaries in most of the body are loosely joined leaving pores through which pass most molecules. These include digestion products for nutrution and most medications. Thus blood plasma and extra-cellular fluid have essentially the same composition outside the brain segment.

The extra-cellular fluid of the central nervous system has a different composition from the blood circulating inside the brain, and the brain barrier maintains this difference. The junction between the capillary cells in the central nervous system are tightly sealed and active water soluble molecules can cross these capillary walls only through a selective, active transport system. It is a system like this that serves to carry agents like caffeine or alcohol rapidly through the blood vessel walls to effect their physiologic effect on the brain. It is very valuable in protecting delicate and sensitive cerebral tissue from toxins that we might inadvertently ingest.

Extensive research has been in progress for over a decade to discover procedures for penetrating the brain with active medications to treat infections, or to correct abnormal brain function. The HIV virus, for example, infects the brain and successful therapies for AIDS will have to pass through the brain barrier to reach these various particles. Neuro-degenerative diseases, wuch as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, require drugs that can pass the blood brain barrier.

The human brain is analogous to a giant switcheboard containing millions of cells receiving messages from both inside and outside the body; and constantly transmitting these sensations to other brain cells for interpretations, storage or action. Nerves throughout the body have two characteristics: irritability and conductivity. Change in environment irritates appropriate nerves which transmits the sensation of this change to the brain. Caffeine, when ingested, performs the function of stimulating nerve cells it contacts in the stomach and this stimulating effect in practically immediately imparted to abdominal brain cells, which in turn transmit it to other cerebral centers. In addition, as ingested caffeine is rapidly absorbed into the blood stream, it in a few seconds perfuses all bodily organs. Since it has no difficulty passing through the blood brain barrier, this becomes an additional source of cerebral stimulation.

Caffeine stimulates the total cerebral cortex - the seat of all human thought, memory and artistry. How it functions within each cell is still poorly comprehended; the more it is studied, the more we learn; but each advance indicates how complicated this intercellular process occurs and how much more there is to learn. One portrayal of caffeine activity is a lock and key mechanism. Each cell is an individual lock and the caffeine molecule is a mechanism that can unlock a broad spectrum of these cells.

Sex activity is a function of a broad range of cranial nerve stimuli: optic (pornographic images), olfactory (exotic perfume), aural (specific music), tactile, etc. Caffeine stimulates most of these neural impulses.

Although caffeine is not considered an aphrodisiac, it has a powerful effect in stimulating most of the factors that combine to create our sexual pattern. It may be contrasted to an alcoholic beverage which in Shakespeare's words: "It provokes the desire but takes away the performance."

A.E. Houseman has his Shropshire Lad cite an even better argument for the merit of caffeine-containing drinks over alcoholic brands:

"Ale, man, ale's the stuff to drink,

For fellows whom it hurts to think!".
COPYRIGHT 1990 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Lee, Samuel
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Jun 1, 1990
Previous Article:On the market.
Next Article:Coffee market in East Germany.

Related Articles
Caffeine safety.
New look at caffeine cravings.
Caffeine boosts predictor of heart problems. (Coffee Jitters).
Caffeine intake tied to miscarriage.
Sorry guys, this drug reduces senior moments in women only.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters