PhillyRick Senior Member Joined: 17 Dec 2012 Posts: 29 Location: Philadelphia
Posted Tue Feb 25, 2014, 3:31pm Subject: Re: Can You Overdose on Caffeine?
Well, what does "overdose" mean? Some people have insomnia, or jitteriness, or palpitations after just one cup of coffee; other people drink liters of the stuff without any side-effects. The most serious "overdose" symptom is seizures, but seizure thresholds vary widely between individuals, too (epileptics use caffeinated beverages with care or not at all).
If you brew yourself consecutive pots of coffee and just keep drinking the stuff without a break, you will have "overdose" symptoms eventually; maybe after the first cup (jitteriness), maybe not until you have a seizure or heart arrhythmia after the 20th cup. Everyone's mileage varies.
"Coffee leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water." ~The Women's Petition Against Coffee, 1674
Posted Tue Feb 25, 2014, 5:19pm Subject: Re: Can You Overdose on Caffeine?
Overdose on caffeine? Sure you can do that. That's what happens with massive doses of no-doz pills, ephedra and several other caffeine related deaths. Typically you'll cause a heart attack with super high doses - like any stimulant can. As a kid I took over 20 no-doz pills at one time when I was really sleepy and 2 then 4 then 6 pills did nothing - I was really high that night and even into the next day. I slept fine though! Not something I enjoyed, nor repeated.
Overdose from caffeine in coffee? That's a whole different question. I doubt that you'd easily be able to do that.
Espresso typically has less caffeine per dose than a cup of drip coffee. Ounce per ounce espresso may be higher (although some studies question this), but a 1-2oz espresso vs 6oz drip coffee is a huge volume difference in favor of drip.
If you are getting heavy caffeine doses from your espresso machine you might be using robusta beans, as they are known to have more caffeine than arabica beans.
jpender Senior Member Joined: 11 Jul 2011 Posts: 699 Location: California Expertise: I like coffee
Grinder: OE LIDO Vac Pot: S/S Moka Pot Drip: Aeropress
Posted Tue Feb 25, 2014, 5:34pm Subject: Re: Can You Overdose on Caffeine?
The median lethal dose for a human is estimated to be 150-200 mg per kilogram of body mass. So for a typical person that's 75 to 100 tablets of NoDoz or way more coffee than you can realistically consume in a short time.
Buckley Senior Member Joined: 25 Jan 2011 Posts: 423 Location: Internet Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Tue Feb 25, 2014, 7:56pm Subject: Re: Can You Overdose on Caffeine? Yes, but snorting > drinking
All chemical compunds, organic or inorganic, have an MSDS (material safety data sheet). On caffeine's MSDS, look for the LD50. LD50 is the (in this case, oral) dose that will result in death 50% of the time. It is expressed in milligrams of dose per kilogram of body weight. Since the state of Texas does not use caffeine at Huntsville, all of the LD50 data we have is from animals, so we have to make assumptions. The LD50 in lab animals ranges from 127-224 mg/kg. Let us assume that the LD50 for humans is midrange, say 192 mg/kg. This is the LD50 for rats, which are close cousins of humans in many ways. If there is 100 mg of caffeine in a strong cup of coffee (range 75-180), one might have to drink two cups per kilogram in order to fatally poison oneself. If one has average weight, say 70 kg., this comes out to 140 cups of coffee. Of course, along the way, one may wish for death at perhaps the 15 or 20 cup mark, and there will doubtless be electrolyte disturbances due to all of that micturation. Caffeine is classified as a toxin and death has been caused by inadvertently breathing in the pure powder. There are companies whose business it is to add caffeine to foods such as sodas, salsa, energy drinks, and the like. Workers in these environments must wear full isolation suits with respirators when working with caffeine, I am told.
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