Pure caffeine powder: the lethal potential of the fitness supplement
One teaspoon of pure caffeine powder, which you can easily buy online or at many fitness supplement stores, is equivalent to consuming 60 cans of Red Bull at a time.
The unlimited availability of the substance and its growing popularity as a training and dietary component means that there is a risk that Australians will die or suffer from serious health complications, an expert has warned.
Lachlan Foote was just 21 when he collapsed on the floor of the family home in Blackheath on New Years Day in 2018, a day before his birthday, after suffering a heart attack.
The gifted musician had made a protein shake using caffeine powder, not knowing how powerful and dangerous it was, and suffered acute toxicity that quickly killed him.
“These kinds of stories don’t particularly surprise me, I’m afraid,” Dr Ian Musgrave, molecular pharmacologist and lecturer at Adelaide Medical School, told news.com.au.
âThe idea that you can just buy pure caffeine and pour it in without instruction or warning is horrible.
âIt’s crazy that it’s so easily accessible. You can buy this stuff from anywhere.
News.com.au calls for pure caffeine powder to be banned in Australia for personal use, in light of Lachlan’s sudden and senseless death.
Death from caffeine toxicity is rare, as one cup of coffee contains around 80 mg of caffeine and the average adult consumes between 110 and 260 mg per day.
âOne teaspoon of pure caffeine contains about four grams of caffeine, which is in the zone where one can expect toxicity,â said Dr. Musgrave.
It’s like drinking 50 cups of coffee at a time, or 60 cans of the highly caffeinated Red Bull energy drink.
âSymptoms of caffeine toxicity at the lower end of the scale include palpitations, restlessness, gastrointestinal issues, and they generally resolve well,â said Dr. Musgrave.
âFrom there you could see dizziness, nausea and anxiety. Towards the upper extremity, convulsions and cardiac arrhythmia may occur. And in the worst case, as we have seen, death from heart attack or stroke. “
RELATED: Father of Young Man Who Dies of Caffeine Toxicity Talks About His Son’s Final Hours
The problem with pure caffeine powder is the lack of awareness of its potency and the fact that those who contain it in protein shakes do not have specific measuring equipment, such as an electronic scale.
This means that overdosing could be very easy, especially in bodybuilders who tend to have “a more cavalier approach to supplementing use,” said Dr Musgrave.
“I think in many ways we are fortunate that we haven’t seen more deaths from caffeine toxicity.”
The United States Food and Drug Administration has restricted the sale of pure caffeine powder in large quantities for personal use after a series of fatalities and near misses.
“The difference between a safe amount and a toxic dose of caffeine in these pure powdered products is very small,” he warned.
The sale of pure caffeine powder is not regulated in Australia, and fitness enthusiasts use it as a pre-workout to boost energy, as well as a dietary supplement to suppress appetite and boost metabolism.
“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” said Dr Musgrave.
âWe tend not to view sports supplements or workout supplements as potentially harmful. But if you cook your own and use any old kitchen spoon, we can see all kinds of trouble coming up.
“If people are not aware of the risks and do not take the appropriate action, we are going to end up with another tragedy like this,” he said.
âWe need proper warnings and labeling on these products. People probably use these compounds without knowing the safe dosage and without knowing the risks.
âAgain, this doesn’t happen very often and I don’t want to trigger mass panic, but people need to be aware of the lethal potential of caffeine in high concentrations. And people with health problems could be at risk at low levels. “
Lachlan was fit and healthy, and a toxicology report revealed that there was no other substance in his system.
His family believe he had no idea how powerful and dangerous the powder is and are calling for pure caffeine products to be banned or at the very least seriously restricted.
Labor spokesperson for health Chris Bowen called for the issue to be urgently addressed by authorities at all levels.
“Reports that people are dying from toxic levels of caffeine powder purchased on an unregulated market are deeply concerning and sad,” Bowen told news.com.au
“I urge state and federal health ministers to prioritize addressing this issue through COAG processes as soon as possible.”
Proper therapeutic administration places restrictions on caffeine-containing drugs, and its product registry does not contain any pure caffeine powder supplements.
âAs such, it is illegal to sell these products in Australia if they make therapeutic claims,â a TGA spokesperson said.
But as long as pure caffeine powder isn’t specifically marketed as a health product or medicine, it can be sold in Australia without regulation.
The sale of large quantities of pure caffeine powder for personal use is legal in this country.
“The dose for adults and children 12 years of age and over of preparations containing caffeine to be used as a stimulant or alert agent should be as follows: 100 mg per maximum dose, which may be repeated at intervals of three hours (and) should not exceed 600 mg in 24 hours.
In 2014, Ohio high school student Logan Stiner died just days before graduation after collapsing at home due to a heart attack caused by caffeine toxicity.
The 18-year-old champion wrestler, talented student and popular local used the powder, which he bought on Amazon, in a protein shake.
A few weeks later, Wade Sweatt, a recent Georgia State University graduate, brewed a drink with caffeine powder. The 24-year-old overdosed, fell into a coma and later died.
US authorities have banned the sale of dangerous pure caffeine products directly to consumers after the deaths.
“It is inherently irresponsible to market such a potentially dangerous product,” said Michael Taylor, deputy food commissioner at the DFA in the United States.
“I hope people understand that they should just stop selling it and that the agency will pursue all legal options against those who don’t.”
Several people have survived close calls with caffeine toxicity.
Kevin Carley, a man from Wisconsin, collapsed on a treadmill after taking a pre-workout caffeine supplement after suffering a heart attack.
He was placed in an induced coma for several days but miraculously survived.
And a woman in Portugal who mixed the spoons she used to measure protein powder and caffeine powder was hospitalized with symptoms of toxicity but survived.