Caffeine is a bitter white crystalline xanthine that acts as a psychoactive stimulant drug and a mild diuretic (speeds up urine production) in humans and other animals. Caffeine was discovered by a German chemist, Friedrich Ferdinand Runge, in 1819. He coined the term "kaffein", a chemical compound in coffee, which in English became caffeine. Caffeine is also called guaranine when found in guarana, mateine when found in mate, and theine when found in tea; all of these names are synonyms for the same chemical compound.
Caffeine is found in varying quantities in the beans, leaves, and fruit of some plants, where it acts as a natural pesticide that paralyzes and kills certain insects feeding on the plants. It is most commonly consumed by humans in infusions extracted from the cherries of the coffee plant and the leaves of the tea bush, as well as from various foods and drinks containing products derived from the kola nut. Other sources include yerba mate, guarana berries, and the Yaupon Holly.
In humans, caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, having the effect of temporarily warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness. Beverages containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea, soft drinks and energy drinks enjoy great popularity. Caffeine is the world's most widely consumed psychoactive substance, but unlike most others, it is legal and unregulated in nearly all jurisdictions. In North America, 90% of adults consume caffeine daily. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration lists caffeine as a "Multiple Purpose Generally Recognised as Safe Food Substance".
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