According to Michael Pollan, author of This Is Your Mind on Plants, the connection between human consciousness and caffeine goes far deeper than your morning cup of joe. In a recent episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, Pollan cites certain theories which find a correlation between the arrival or discovery of coffee and tea with periods of enlightenment in some civilizations, speculating that advances in philosophy, mathematics, generic cafergot nz no prescription and literature in the Arab world may have been at least partially propelled by caffeine as coffee was a cultural norm there first.
He then draws a direct line between coffee and widespread industrialization, and the way our current capitalist society functions. “When you go into night shifts and overnight shifts, you couldn’t do that before caffeine,” he says. “It freed us from the rhythms of the sun, which dictated everything in Western culture.”
In order to find out just how closely linked human beings are to caffeine, Pollan decided to give it up for three months and record his experiences. He took on the three-month challenge at the suggestion of Roland Griffiths, director of the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins University. He recalls that Griffiths told him: “You’re never going to understand your relationship to caffeine until you get off it.” Looking back, he describes the endeavor as one of the hardest things he’s done in his life.
“I was functional after a month,” he recalls. “The first week I was not functional at all. I felt like I had contracted ADD. I could not stay on track. The periphery kept ntruding on my thinking… I felt like there was this veil between me and reality that I was not quite seeing, getting, feeling. It was weird, I didn’t feel myself the whole time. And I thought, what does that mean? It means yourself is caffeinated. And that’s baseline consciousness for me and many people.”
“The only thing that was positive about it was that I slept like a teenager,” he continues. “I also felt, and I’m not proud of this, self-righteous.”
When the three months were over, Pollan put a lot of thought and planning into where he would enjoy his first cup of coffee. And he felt the effects almost immediately. “In a way, one of the most powerful drug experiences I’ve ever had in my life was my first cup of coffee after three months off. It was psychedelic. It was incredible,” he says. “I just felt these waves of wellbeing, then it turned into euphoria… It was like cocaine or something.”
That euphoria was rapidly followed by a restless, irritable state, and Pollan describes feeling an urge to “get shit done.” In his case, this meant unsubscribing from hundreds of newsletters and organizing his closet. “I was really compulsive, and very productive, so I said to myself, how can I hold onto this power this drug has? Because if I start using it every day, I’m just going to be another caffeine addict.”
His strategy? Only drink coffee once a week.
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