Monday, February 13, 2012

AeroShot Energy Inhaler - Too Much Too Fast?

FairWarning.Org recently reported on a new energy product that recently went on the market. This time, its not a drink or food but rather an inhalant. AeroShot, provides puffs of caffeine from a small tube. Harvard professor, David Edwards created AeroShot and claims it is safe. But many are concerned that AeroShot will allow people to consume too much caffeine too quickly. Others are worried that the product will be abused by young adults as a club drug. Wisely, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has requested the Food and Drug Administration to review the safety of AeroShot. USAToday reports more fully on AeroShot’s introduction into commerce in the article Take a Breath: You can get a caffeine fix from an inhaler.

The concern with AeroShot has to do with how quickly it will get into the bloodstream of the person consuming it. Caffeine is most commonly ingested through food or drinks. When caffeine is ingested, the caffeine enters the stomach and the blood absorbs it there. The blood then carries it to the liver and the rest of the body. The stomach absorbs caffeine more slowly than the lungs. When caffeine is ingested, the levels of caffeine in the body are lower, but the effects last longer, albeit at a lower intensity.

AeroShot, on the other hand, may allow users to inhale caffeine directly into their lungs. (See Edit below).   Inhaling is the most expedient way to get caffeine and other chemicals into the bloodstream. Our lungs are lined with millions of alveoli, the tiny air sacs where gas exchange occurs. These alveoli have an enormous surface area that is 90 times greater than that of our skin, so they make it all the easier and quicker for caffeine and other compounds to enter the body. The caffeine is absorbed by the lungs just seconds after inhaling. The effect is a much quicker and more potent stimulus. The problem is at least two-fold. First, those not accustomed to such an intense stimulant effect could suffer health consequences associated with more potent stimulants. Second, because the effects will wear off quicker AeroShot may contribute to users abusing the product in an effort to maintain their high.

There is no shortage of information on the internet related to the problematic effects of caffeine in large quantities. AeroShot will allow anyone that can get their hands on its product to get a very large dose of caffeine, quickly with little digestive breakdown. This could prove to be a dangerous recipe. I cannot yet find any reports on the efficacy and safety of AeroShot. There does not appear to be anything out there to suggest the product is dangerous. In all likelihood it is completely safe…only time will tell. But it will be interesting to monitor whether reports of ill effects linked to the use of AeroShot surface in the coming months and years. I will be keeping an eye on the FDA’s pending investigation.

EDIT:  Greghodg, in an attached comment, pointed out an inaccuracy in my post.  He indicates that AeroShot is not, in fact, inhaled.  Rather, as is noted in an Independent Business Times article titled FDA Goes After AeroShot: Are Inhalable Caffeine Canisters New Four Loko?, "To get a shot, users put one end of the lipstick-sized canister in their mouths and breathe in. A fine powder containing caffeine and B vitamins is released and dissolves in your mouth and throat, giving you an immediate burst of energy."  Point taken....however it seems a little naive to think that none of that powder if being inhaled is getting into people's lungs.  Moreover, the product still works through direct absorption rather then digestion through the stomach.

Greg also notes that AeroShot is an overpriced gimmick.  At $2.99, however, it is priced the same as any other energy drink and energy shots like 5 Hour Energy.

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  1. The following statement, is completely false, and the associated paragraph then makes all kinds of equally false statements based on the incorrect premise.

    "AeroShot, on the other hand, will allow users to inhale large amounts of caffeine directing into their lungs."

    This may be what the manufacturer is sort-of-but-not-really claiming, but it's not true. It is not inhaled into the lungs, it is a fine powder that is "puffed" into the mouth, where it dissolves in the saliva and is swallowed. The method of absorption is exactly the same as with any other caffeinated liquid or tablet, and its effect is no faster. You won't generally find this on their web site though. Part of the appeal is that it appears to be a new method of consumption, so they seems to be ok with the misinformation.

    At any rate, it's a huge gimmick, and an expensive one at that. You'll pay nearly 200 times more for this than you would for the equivalent caffeine pill, which will have exactly the same effect (200 count 100mg caffeine pills @ amazon for about $5).

  2. Thanks for the comment Greg. Please see the Edit I have placed in my post in response.