What was that noise? Did you see that shadow? Is your house, school, place of employment the home of all manner or paranormal entities? Or is it possible you have just had to much caffeine?
Caffiene – that glorious substance that helps wake us up in the morning in a cup of coffee or gives us that extra boost through an energy drink at the end of a long day at work. We consume caffiene in many ways. Coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, even chocolate has it. Did you know that caffiene, although it is completely legal and unregulated is actually a psychoactive drug?
According to recent studies in both Australia and the UK, high levels of caffiene use have been linked to auditory and visual hallucinations. According to researchers at La Trobe university as few as 5 cups of coffee a day can cause auditory hallucinations. This was determined through a study of 92 non-clinical participants measuring high levels of caffiene and high levels of stressful life events.
Durham University in the UK conducted a similar study with 200 non smoking students. Students were asked about their caffiene intake including coffee, tea, energy drinks, chocolate and caffiene tablets. Stress levels and incidents of hallucinatory experiences were assessed as well. Seeing things, hearing voices and sensing dead people were among the things reported.
The possible explanation is that caffiene has been found to exacerbate the physiological effects of stress on the body.Stress causes the body to release a hormone known as Cortisol. Studies have shown more of this hormone is released in response to stress in people who have recently consumed caffiene. There is a possible link between this increase in Cortisol release and hallucinations according to study leader Simon Jones.
Since Jones and his collegues believe that psychotic experiences, including hallucinations exist in the healthy population as well as the mentally ill the study was conducted on subjects with no known mental illnesses or antiphsycotic medication use. According to Jones. Hallucinations are not necessarily a sign of mental illness. Given the link between “food and mood” he and his collegues feel that the link between nutrition and hallucinations is a sensible area to study. This research is ongoing.
According to the FDA and most experts consumption of up to 300mg of caffiene (the equivelant one to two 12oz cups of coffee or 6 to 8 12ox sodas a day) is within the “safe” range. According to Jack Bergman, a behavioral pharmacologist at Harvard Medical school , overdose of caffiene can produce a myriad of adverse effects including hallucinations. He also noted at that it is important to remember that hallucinations can be simply defined as sensory disturbances. There are many reports that extremely high intakes of caffiene can produce complex sensory disturbances. Another thing to note is that overdose of caffiene in some people can also produce paranoia which intesifies the sensory disturbances.
Given all of this data I would conclude that when one is experiencing a sudden onset of hearing, seeing or sensing things it would be prudent to examine that individuals caffiene intake. This information will certainly have me thinking twice before reaching for that third cup of coffee.