Let’s talk about the controversial new caffeine fix

There’s a new way to get your coffee fix, and it’s pretty controversial. If you don’t have time to drink an entire cup of coffee but still need your caffeine fix immediately, Eagle Energy Vapor is offering a caffeine alternative — but experts warn it’s not the healthiest option, to say the least.

Eagle Energy Vapors look exactly like a vape, because that’s what they are — except instead of the heating element that transforms active nicotine chemicals into a vapor, it transforms caffeine chemicals.

The active ingredients are guarana (an Amazonian plant full of caffeine), taurine, and ginseng. So it’s basically like breathing in a Red Bull, minus all the sugar and liquid.

But who really can’t take the time to drink a cup of coffee? Elliot Mashford, the creator of the Eagle inhaler explained, “It’s for when you’re on the chairlift skiing, when you’re hiking, when you’re driving in the car.” Hmm.

The disposable inhalers are being introduced at newsstands, drugstores, and casinos throughout the United States. Each inhaler is $8.99 and contains enough vape for around 500 puffs. There are only around two milligrams of caffeine per inhaler, compared to a typical 12-ounce cup of coffee that has around 150 milligrams of caffeine. The company says that 10 to 20 puffs would be equivalent to one cup of coffee. But how safe is it?

Dr. Donald Hensrud, an internist and the director of the Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Living Program in Rochester, Minn., told the New York Times, “Coffee is one thing, then you have your 5-Hour Energy drinks. This is next in line on the spectrum of people who want that acute buzz.”

Dr. Hensrud admitted he hasn’t actually tested the inhaler, but warned that inhaling a substance of any kind, especially a stimulant, should be concerning. Since the rate of absorption into the blood stream is much more rapid with inhalation, “the drug levels go up a lot quicker,” he said.

Ok, so we know that it isn’t healthy, but does it actually work? New York Times writer Alex Williams tested the product, and found that the vape tasted sweet like a cherry-flavored Jolly Rancher. It took him 10 hits to feel a buzz and then after that, he wrote that he craved real coffee.

But back to the health risks, because we think these are pretty important — in 2012 the FDA issued a warning letter to the makers of AeroShot, a caffeine inhaler, which included questions about the safety of the inhaler. The company states on their website that the product is intended for ingestion by swallowing, but that is contradictory to the label’s statement that the inhaler is “breathable energy.” According to the letter, caffeine is not normally inhaled into the lungs and the safety of it has not been well-studied. This isn’t good news for the Eagle Energy Vapor company.

Health experts have also expressed concern about certain caffeinated products like energy drinks and the new caffeine inhaler. According to Timeunlike coffee or soda, energy drinks and caffeine inhalers, “contain multiple stimulants aside from synthetic caffeine.” Many doctors and health professionals are dissatisfied with the way these products are regulated. Manufacturers can choose to market products as beverages or dietary supplements, neither of which require pre-market safety approval by the FDA or any other public-health agency. Yikes.

Thanks but we’re still sticking with regular coffee.

The deep, super-real struggle of a morning without coffee

All the things that only coffee drinkers understand

[Images via EagleEnergyVapor and Shutterstock]