Zero calorie, inhalable caffeine
Ever wish you could mainline your coffee? Well, here’s the next best thing: AeroShot, a new product that delivers “inhalable” caffeinated puffs… and from the same man who gave the world ‘Le Whif’, inhalable chocolate.
Time reports that AeroShot’s delivery system is a light, plastic inhaler that shoots lime-flavoured puffs of powdered caffeine to the tongue, where they are instantly absorbed. Each inhaler contains three puffs, providing a total of 100mg of caffeine — about as much as in a large cup of coffee.
The product also contains 100% of the recommended daily allowance of niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. It’s sweetened with stevia, the herbal sweetener that is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar and has no calories.
AeroShot was invented by Harvard biomedical engineering professor, David Edwards, who previously created a no-calorie inhalable chocolate product called Le Whif.
“I have a background in developing inhaled drugs and vaccines and I was fascinated about bringing that idea to a new way of eating,” says Edwards. “That’s how it began.”
The Time reviewer says it took him a few tries to get the hang of using the inhaler, but once successful, he found his heart rate and mood lifted in the familiar, caffeinated way — but faster than with coffee.
“Frequently, the first time people do it, they laugh,” says Edwards. “There’s something funny about the act, how it happens in your mouth.”
Since caffeine is a legal substance in foods, as are the included B vitamins, AeroShot did not require FDA approval. It will be sold as an energy supplement. The label says it is “not intended for people under 12, sensitive to caffeine, allergic to ragweed, taking medications, who are pregnant or who have a serious medical condition.” It also warns against using more than three AeroShots a day.
So, what’s the best and safest way to use caffeine? And does it really improve performance?
A 2010 Cochrane review of multiple studies of caffeine’s effect on shift workers found that it did indeed reduce the number of errors people made in tasks like driving or operating a flight simulator.
It also improved memory, reasoning, perception and attention, compared with placebo. [Sadly for writers, however, caffeine did not seem to affect verbal functioning or language skills, at least in the studies included in the review.]
Other research suggests that frequent dosing, with about 20mg of caffeine an hour, is an efficient way to counter the effects of sleep deprivation and improve brain processing speed. If you’re using coffee, adding sugar may also help: one study found that it boosted performance more than caffeine alone.
As for the overall health effects of caffeine and coffee, that’s been debated for years. On balance, the research seems to find more benefits than harms associated with drinking coffee, including reduced risks of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and depression.
Is caffeine addictive? Certainly, it produces tolerance and withdrawal symptoms if it is stopped abruptly. But even though it is the most widely used drug in the world, few caffeine users exhibit signs of serious addiction — namely, compulsive drug-related behaviours despite negative consequences. That could be in part because caffeine is legal and easily and cheaply obtained. Or, it could be because the effects of caffeine use — especially in a hyper-efficient society — are generally positive.
So, while previous products, like inhalable aerosolised alcohol, led to bans in multiple states, AeroShot seems more likely to generate praise.
The new product will reportedly hit stores in New York City and Boston in January and will be available online in several weeks. The retail price is expected to be $2.99 per inhaler — cheaper than a Starbucks latte.
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