Article #4: The Stimulant Delusion
Some time ago, a magazine published by a religious organization came to my desk. It contained an article which traces chocolate from seed to candy bar. It opens by saying that “chocolate in its many forms has been a taste delight of millions.” It ends by saying: “Many have come to know the nutritional value of chocolate as well as enjoy it for its taste when mixed with sugar. The Creator has thus provided for his Creatures an unending variety of foodstuffs to sustain them and gratify their varied appetites.”
In between these two asinine statements is a brief story of the planting and cultivation of the Cacao tree, the harvesting of its crops and the preparation of the cacao beans for the factories. In the whole article there is not one word said about the poisonous quality of cocoa, nor does the article even hint that the sugar with which it is mixed is white sugar.
The thought comes to me that if the Creator prepared this substance for the use of His creatures, He might well have left the poison out of it. The article does say that the chocolate is bitter, but it fails to mention the fact that, without the addition of great amounts of sugar, the stuff is so bitter that none of the “varied appetites” of man would relish it. It is only by so thoroughly disguising its true character, as manifest in its taste, that foolish men and women can get the poison substance past the sentinel of taste.
Arguments such as that given in the magazine article can be made to sustain any vice or practice to which man may be addicted. We may assume that the Creator made tobacco to satisfy the varied tastes of man, or that he made opium for the same purpose. There is actually more nutritive value in the leaf of the tobacco plant than in chocolate. People do not eat chocolate for is alleged nutritive value but for its stimulating quality. The theobromine of chocolate is identical with the caffeine of coffee and the theine of tea. It is simply a poison and there are no conditions or circumstances under which it should be taken into the human body. Theological defenses of poison vices are always misleading.
Coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate and the caffeine-containing soft drinks should be classed together and it should be fully recognized that they produce evil and evil only, when introduced into the human system. None of these vices is very old but each of them is very wide-spread. People swallow these poisons under the delusion that stimulation is somehow beneficial.
Of coffee we read in medical literature that, “While a certain portion stimulates the nervous system, a large portion acts as a sedative, so that a difference in the quantity of the potion causes a difference in the kind of its effects.” It is impossible to explain this apparently contradictory behavior of coffee on the basis of the medical theory that “drugs act.” If caffeine is a stimulant, why is it less of a stimulant in large than in small doses? Indeed, why does it not stimulate in proportion to the size of the dose—why aren’t large doses proportionately more stimulating than small doses? Why does it apparently act the exact opposite in large doses from the way it acts in small doses?
We can find our answer only if we realize that the increased action that we designate stimulation is simply the extra effort exerted by the body in expelling the poison. This being true, and it is, so-called stimulants must necessarily and inevitably deplete the body’s powers in proportion to the expenditure their use occasions. Because the sick person is already greatly depleted, he is less able to bear the losses occasioned by the use of stimulants than is the well and vigorous individual.
Of theine, it is said that when given in small doses to either animals or man, it “quickens the circulation,” and “effects some degree of mental exhiliration and wakefulness.” But the “final result” is diminished excretion of carbon-dioxide—”the flow of blood through the capillaries is retarded.” Large doses “prove poisonous, causing painful restlessness, rigidity of the muscles, and general exhaustion.”
Thus, theine is pictured to us as a stimulant in small doses, a “poison” in large doses. What is there in the size of dose to change the character and quality of the substance? In what way does the size of the dose alter its relation to the vital structures? As soon as it is realized that stimulation is excited action in resisting and expelling the small dose, it will be recognized that the drug is a poison in doses of any and all sizes.