Energy drinks have exploded in popularity during the past 10 years. Most of these products include a proprietary blend of ingredients. Some drinks come in a beverage can, whereas others such as Liftoff come in a tablet form. According to the Herbalife website, Liftoff contains substances known to enhance mental performance and boost energy. While often effective, these ingredients can cause allergic reactions in some people. Speak with a licensed physician before consuming a large quantity of energy drinks.
Most energy drinks contain caffeine -- a substance known to increase performance and alertness. Ingesting this stimulant provides benefits to athletes in both individual and team sports, according to a December 2010 review in "Sports Medicine." Yet, caffeine can also cause side effects. An article published in the 2011 volume of the "Polish Heart Journal" describes some of these effects. Large doses can elevate blood pressure and cholesterol count. Pregnant women should also avoid the stimulant. It can have adverse effects on the growth and heart of the fetus.
The Paullinia cupana plant -- better known as guarana -- remains popular despite safety concerns. Guarana has a protective effect on your body as habitual users appear less likely to develop diabetic symptoms, according to a February 2011 report in "Phytotherapy Research." Many over-the-counter supplements adversely affect the kidneys. A case report presented in the March 2007 issue of "Orvosi Hetilap" suggests that long-term use of guarana leads to organ damage. Years of supplementation caused kidney failure in a 30-year-old female patient. This damage disappeared when the women stopped taking guarana.
Ginseng can slow the aging process and improve thinking, according to a December 2009 review in the "Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine." These benefits may come at a price as ginseng can also cause allergic reactions. A clinical trial described in the July 2004 edition of the "Annals of Medicine" discovered a potential drug interaction associated with ginseng use. Participants taking warfarin, a blood-thinning drug, also received ginseng for three weeks. Relative to baseline, ginseng significantly reduced the effectiveness of warfarin. This change could prove fatal in some cases.
Beverage makers often add the organic acid taurine to their energy drinks. This substance reduces fatigue and enhances performance, according to a February 2004 article in "Amino Acids." Taurine also helps the body process sugar. A study published in the 2011 volume of "Biomedical Research" showed that its antioxidant effects protect the body from diabetic damage. Yet, these beneficial effects can cause problems as well. A February 2002 report in "Platelets" indicates that taurine reduces blood coagulation by about 10 percent. This change could prevent wound healing in susceptible people.
The Ginkgo biloba tree provided traditional societies several medicines. Modern researchers have obtained documentation for some of these alleged effects. Ginkgo improves symptoms of dementia, according to a 2011 paper in "Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment." It might also relieve ear ringing in patients with hearing loss. Effective in the short-term, the long-term safety of ginkgo remains unknown. A review published in the January 2008 issue of the "Journal of Food Science" described several possible side effects of ginkgo. Most reactions are mild, but some can be severe. Doctors, for example, have observed near fatal cases of internal bleeding following extended ginkgo use.
- Herbalife; Liftoff: Product Details
- "Sports Medicine"; Dietary Supplements and Team-Sport Performance; David Bishop; December 2010
- "Polish Heart Journal"; Coffee and Caffeine -- Enemies or Alliantes of a Cardiologist?; Wojciech Dworzanski, et al.; 2011
- "Phytotherapy Research"; Habitual Intake of Guarana and Metabolic Morbidities: An Epidemiological Study of an Elderly Amazonian Population; C. Costa Krewer, et al.; February 2011
- "Orvosi Hetilap"; Acute Renal Failure Caused by Plant Extract; Katalin Vagasi, et al.; March 2007
- "Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine"; New Achievements in Ginseng Research and Its Future Prospects; Shi-Feng Chu and Jun-Tian Zhang; December 2009