In the vein of weird stimulants added to weird products, I have a new one to throw out: caffienated soap! Lots of people don’t like coffee (not me, I love love love it), but still want that delectably artificial pick-me-up in the morning. What are they to do??
Caffeine soap to the rescue!
The soap, called Shower Shock, supplies the caffeine equivalent of two cups of coffee per wash, with the stimulant absorbed naturally through the skin, manufacturers say.
“Tired of waking up and having to wait for your morning java to brew? Are you one of those groggy early morning types that just needs the extra kick?” ask the makers, thinkgeek.com.
Supposedly the soap is very quick-acting; within 5 minutes you’ll feel the buzz. “Serving size” is 200 milligrams of caffeine per use, although I guess if you were really dirty you’d get quite a bit more. So you might wanna keep that old bar of Irish Spring around for evening showers, else you might have a few sleepless nights. From what I read, a cup of coffee contained about 40 mg of caffeine, so the 200mg soapy-dose is more like 5 cups of coffee or 2.5 Red Bulls! Yikes!
As we all know, caffeine is a nervous system stimulant. As you may not know, its the world’s most commonly used psychoactive drug, and 90% of North Americans consume caffeine in some form ever day. Caffeine evolved as a defense mechanism for plants. Insects eating a caffeinated plant become paralyzed and die, making it an effective pesticide. Global consumption of caffeine is around 120,000 tons.
Caffeine affects other species too (as mentioned above it was an insecticide), for example, caffeine administration in arachnids results in abnormal web patterning. This was described by NASA in a Tech Brief.
To the right: (top) normal web pattern by a spider never exposed to caffeine; (bottom) web pattern is disrupted in spiders after the administration of caffeine.
Now, quite interestingly, this NASA tech brief wasn’t limited to caffeine. The researchers gave these poor arachnids Benzedrine, marijuana, and chloral hydrate too. The point of these studies was to develop a technique for assessing chemical toxicity which bypassed expensive mammalian testing. According to the NASA brief (which is not much like a scientific paper at all), the degree to which the web is “messed up” reflects the degree of toxicity of the administered substance. However, one cannot assume that the biological, metabolic, and chemical reactions to such drugs are equivalent to what mammal’s reactions would be, therefore the rating system is probably largely arbitrary (yet still interesting).
Below: webs spun by spiders following the administration of several chemical types.