Thursday, March 5, 2015

Stimulation - Body

We live in a stimulant-infused world. If the SHTF, you might want to have a plan for replacing your daily intake or weaning yourself off of normal daily dosage of your stimulant of choice. Having a supply of mild stimulants around could also be handy if you need to stay awake for guard duty or travel after dark. The local over-priced coffee shop may not be open after a hurricane or earthquake takes out the water and power supplies.

I won't cover the illegal stimulants that are available, since they are by definition illegal and I can't publicly condone illegal activity.

Image Courtesy Wikipedia
Caffeine is the most common stimulant used in America, found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, and pills. Most of the caffeine we consume comes from either coffee beans or guarana beans. The process of de-caffeinating coffee creates a supply of caffeine for use in other drinks, as well as medicines and “novelty” candies. Check the ingredients list of your favorite headache pills and you will probably find caffeine.

There is only one native North American plant that contains caffeine, cassina, which grows along the coast from Florida to Texas. There is also only one commercial tea plantation in North America outside Charleston, SC with a few smaller operations starting up in the last few years. Hawaii is the only place in the USA that grows coffee. For something that a great majority of us consume on a daily basis, the sources for it are few and far away and that could be a problem.

Having a store of your favorite form of caffeine can be anything from a nicety to a necessity depending on how long you've been consuming it and how much you consume on a daily basis.
  • Coffee is easy to store since it is normally sold in airtight containers, often under a slight vacuum. When shopping for coffee for your storage, you'll want to look for the same things you would with any other food item; study containers, long shelf life, a brand you already use (so you can rotate your stock), and price. Cheap, store-brand vacuum packed bricks of coffee would suffice for emergencies and barter items. If you can boil water, you can make coffee or tea.
  • Tea stores well in compressed form, which takes up less room than bulk loose tea or tea bags, and also offers up to 20 years of shelf life. You'll need a clean saw to break a brick down into small enough pieces to use, but once you get it into a piece smaller than your cup you can soak it for a few minutes and flake off as much as you need for a serving or two. I've used tea bricks for years for everyday use and have had good results with flavor and shelf life. A chunk the size of a deck of cards will have as much tea as at least 100 tea bags and is a lot easier to carry or store. A standard tea brick weighs about a kilogram (2.2 pounds) and fits into a gallon Zip-lock bag. 
  • Energy drinks and sodas don't store well, with a normal shelf life measured in months and never more than a year. If you are a regular user of energy drinks, you may have some on hand but I wouldn't plan on being able to find a resupply. They also last longer and taste better with refrigeration, which will be hard to find in an emergency.
  • Caffeine in pill form (No-Doze, etc.) is a handy way to store small amounts of a legal stimulant for emergency use. I've never had much luck with caffeine in pill form, but then again I don't enjoy taking pills of any sort. Keeping them dry and not loosing them in your pack may be a challenge.
While not an actual addiction, caffeine dependency can be a problem since there will be withdrawal if you stop getting the amount you are used to. Withdrawal symptoms include drowsiness, headaches, irritability, inability to concentrate, and pain in the stomach, upper body, and joints. Headaches are the most common and can last for days. In times of stress or emergency, nobody needs an extra source of irritability, pain, or lack of concentration, so keep a source of caffeine handy if you normally ingest it.

Caffeine is fairly safe in normal quantities, and the lethal dose is high enough (75-100 cups of coffee or equivalent) that you have to actually be trying in order to get a dangerous amount.

Next week I'll cover stimulation of the mind, with spirit and soul to follow in the following weeks. For those of you who have read our blog for a while, you'll recognize my classification system of body, mind, spirit, and soul for dealing with personal issues.

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