You'd be hard pressed to find something tasty and popular in the drink aisle that isn't stuffed to the gills with high fructose corn syrup and/or caffeine. Sodas like Mountain Dew and Coca Cola (in their near infinite varieties) have their fair share of this stimulant, and it can be found in larger doses in energy drinks like Monster or Red Bull which have carved out their own share of the drink market. Even tea and coffee, two of the most popular drinks in the world, have caffeine in them. It should be noted that while the world of cubicles and office work would no doubt grind to a halt without caffeine, science has proven that caffeine can be used as a medicine as well as a quick pick me up.
Some of its uses include...
A Cure For What Ails You
If What Ails You is a Headache
The most basic thing caffeine is used for is a headache cure; especially headaches resulting from hangovers. When you have a hangover it's often because the blood vessels in your head have swollen, causing pain and pressure. When you drink caffeine to counter the problem the stimulant narrows your blood vessels and because it can caffeine it also reduces pain. If you combine caffeine with aspirin, which is essentially what many over-the-counter medications do, you're creating a headache cure on steroids. Not literally of course... that effect would be something else entirely.
If you're looking to take things up a notch though...
Caffeine Treats Asthma and ADHD
No Seriously, It Does
Caffeine has been shown to work as a treatment for ADHD. That condition, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder for those who don't recognize the acronym, is the technical term for those children and adults who bounce around with a lot of energy but who are often unable to focus that energy towards a single task. ADHD medications like Adderall have often been called cheap speed because they're especially powerful stimulants. The nervous receptors in the body where this condition is present treats them differently though, creating a calming effect instead of giving the user more energy. In many cases caffeine has been used instead as a gentler, less expensive stimulant to help those with ADHD control their symptoms. Some scientists have even suggested that the continued use of caffeine into adulthood is responsible for many situations where symptoms lessen and go away as the sufferer grows.
While we're on the subject of illnesses often associated with childhood, caffeine has also proved a viable treatment for asthma. Asthma is a lifelong disease, but it only becomes really inconvenient when the airways contract and the sufferer can't breathe. Most people refer to this as an asthma attack, though people on the receiving end may refer to it as a near death experience. One of the drugs used to help control asthma is theophyline, and it's the first cousin of caffeine. As such more mild asthma attacks can be controlled with a popped top of soda, or even more mild medication that has caffeine as a main component.
Also Referred To As The Mad Science Method
Though not last on the list of achievements, caffeine has also been used to try and help those fighting cancer. In the spirit of throwing science at the wall and seeing what sticks researchers introduced caffeine into treatments for cancer. Patients who were under the effects of the stimulant showed better progress and results during radiation therapy and anti-tumor drugs. By itself, caffeine has been shown to help halt the spread of cancer, which is more than most drugs with names three times caffeine's length can do.
That isn't some exotic sort of coffee only found in magical groves on Ecuadorian mountaintops, by the way. Just your run-of-the-mill cup of brown joy from Folders you can buy at the super market.
The list of uses continues, though. Caffeine has been used by elite military units like the U.S. Special Forces and the Navy Seals because it can make you sharper and faster, fighting off sleep with no ill effects as long as the supply keeps coming. It's been used as a dietary supplement to suppress the appetite, and it's even been used as a cure to fight the common cold. It's also a gentle diuretic, for those who need to make sure their body's don't hold onto too much water. In fact it's almost easier to list the things that caffeine doesn't help (in the proper dosage, of course) than those it does.