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AeroShot inhalable caffeine: handy boost or party drug?

AeroShot inhalable caffeine: handy boost or party drug?

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Invented by a Harvard biomedical engineer, the pocket-sized inhaler contains 100 mg of caffeine. It avoids overdosing by letting you control the dosage, but some call it a health hazard.

So, you could get coffee… or you could spent $2.99 on 100 mg of caffeine that you breath in.

Hitting stores this January, it’s a pocket-sized plastic inhaler called AeroShot Pure Energy, and it’s filled with a powdery, calorie-free mix of caffeine, B vitamins, and citrus flavors. NPR reports.

The caffeine market is already crowded with all the coffee, sodas, energy drinks, and novelties ranging from caffeinated gums to a chapstick called Spazzstick.

But Aeroshot is unique, its makers says, because it allows you to control the dosage. "We often overdose ourselves [with caffeine]," says AeroShot inventor David Edwards, a biomedical engineering professor at Harvard. That's part of what leads to the nasty spike and withdrawal cycle that leaves caffeine addicts feeling drowsy. With AeroShot, he says, you take it when you need it, and as much as you need.

It contains the same amount of caffeine as a large cup of coffee and works like an asthma inhaler: pull the yellow end to open, put the other end between your lips, and puff into your mouth. Each cartridge is good for 6 to 8 puffs.

But actually, despite the novelty of breathing in caffeine, AeroShot isn’t technically inhalable. The powder is way too big to get past the back of your throat and into your lungs, so digesting the caffeine is the same basic process for the AeroShot as it is for a beverage. (So it doesn’t get to the brain as fast as something that’s truly inhalable.)

The product will be sold over the counter without age restrictions and is touted for its convenience and zero calories. “Breathable energy. Anytime. Anyplace.”

But some aren’t convinced it’s a great idea. New York Senator Charles Schumer told the Food and Drug Administration that AeroShot could be a dangerous health hazard if it gets mixed with alcohol… like with Four Loko. “This product is nothing more than a club drug designed to give users the ability to drink until they drop.” (The product doesn’t require FDA approval.)

Caffeine has always been an addictive psycho-stimulant, and while coffeehouses are still popular, energy drinks and other caffeine products are increasingly associated with dance clubs and extreme sports. (Watch this video from AeroShot's October launch in Paris.)

The inhaler is sold by Massachusetts-based Breathable Foods Inc. and The Lab Store, in Paris.

From NPR.

Images: AeroShot

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Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure