HEALTH

Just Because You Can Vape Caffeine Doesn't Mean You Should

Some people just drink it.

01/06/2016 8:52 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:53 PM AEST
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Actor leonardo Dicaprio vapes at an awards ceremony, and a man drinks coffee, the old fashioned way.

Move over organic cold-drip soy latte, there's a newer, more obnoxious way to consume caffeine -- vaping it.

Vancouver-based company Eagle Energy is launching in Australia this month, selling an e-cigarette-style "electronic caffeine delivery system allowing consumers to inhale their caffeine without any calories or sugar".

The product, which also contains taurine and ginseng, will be available at more than a hundred retail locations including IGA and some BP service stations in Australia from June 15 but here's a question: just because you can vape caffeine, should you?

According to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, caffeine isn't a scheduled substance. All products containing the stimulant need to label it as such, but there's currently no recognised health-based limit for caffeine intake.

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The manufacturers say 10-20 puffs is equal to the roughly 95-200 milligrams of caffeine found in a single serving of black coffee.

But does your body take in caffeine differently when it's inhaled as opposed to drunken like a normal person?

Deakin University PHD student studying energy drinks Nicolas Droste told The Huffington Post Australia there were a lot of unknowns.

"It strikes me as trying to tap into the same market as energy drinks but because it's a new way of consuming it, we don't know how caffeine will be received by consumers," Droste said.

"When you have coffee or an energy drink, your stomach feels full so you stop, but if you're inhaling it, is there anything to stop you from ingesting too much caffeine?"

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Droste said caffeine stayed in the blood stream much longer than nicotine.

"When you ingest caffeine, it takes roughly 40 minutes to reach peak blood levels but I imagine inhaling is much, much faster because there will be a direct osmosis into the blood stream via the lungs," Droste said.

"While nicotine smoked or vaped will stay in the bloodstream for one to two hours, caffeine will still be in the bloodstream six hours later, so if you're vaping caffeine like you would nicotine, there's potential to ingest a large amount of caffeine."

Accredited Practising Dietitian Lauren McGuckin agreed, saying said there was little if any evidence-based understanding of the effects of inhaling caffeine.

"I'm worried that if these things become popular we'll see a lot more people 'overdosing' on caffeine and ending up having heart attacks or the likes," McGuckin told HuffPost Australia.

Eagle Energy founder Elliot Mashford told HuffPost Australia vaping caffeine had a "more immediate effect on the body" disuading people from having too much, too quickly.

"Since the caffeine is inhaled and absorbed at a faster rate than ingestion, the effects of the caffeine are felt within minutes," Mashford said.

"Likewise, the body metabolizes the caffeine at a faster rate via inhalation, making it virtually impossible to consume too much at once."

As for how the product feels, The Huffington Post's U.S. team gave it a go in 2015 and here are highlights of their reactions:

  • "Oh my God, my heart is racing so fast. Am I going to die?" Sports Editor Maxwell Strachan wrote , four minutes after taking his first puff. He later added, "If I die I'm going to die smoking vape pen because it tastes delicious." He was seen puffing on the stick five hours later.
  • "I don't feel exhausted anymore," said Business Editor Catharine Smith, after about 10 puffs. "It feels like having a cup of coffee, but too quickly."
  • "I love this thing! I feel so good," wrote Community Manager Joey Mejias after continuously puffing on his vaporizer for 10 minutes. He contributed to Eagle Energy's 2015 crowdfunding campaign after 15 minutes of further research into the product, and finished an entire vaporizer over four days.
  • "If you blow it out your nose, it tastes just like Red Bull," Associated Sports Editor Justin Block mused (a little too) happily.
  • "The Eagle Energy has successfully replaced my morning coffee and is definitely better for focusing," wrote Multimedia Fellow Jake Reeves. "Downside, it feels like I'm smoking at my desk, which is definitely considered 'rude' in the office space."

If all this talk of caffeine is turning you off regular, liquid state cuppa' joe, then here's what happens to your body when you quit coffee.

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