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  #1  
Old 07-27-2012, 08:59 PM
Ambivalid Ambivalid is offline
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Why Does Coffee Make You Poop?

I'm guessing this topic has come up before but I couldn't find it with any cursory searches so I am asking it here: why does coffee make you poop? It can't be simply the caffeine because there are plenty of caffeinated beverages out there, some much more caffeinated that coffee (I'm thinking of you pre-workout energy), that don't trigger a BM.

My guess is that it's perhaps a combination of triggers; physical and psychological. The caffeine probably does play a role, stimulating the bowels to move in some way, and the heat of the coffee may aid in this function as well. I am also guessing that the psychological role that coffee plays in a person's life may also serve as a stimulant of sorts. Because I have found that within taking just two or three sips of my first cup I must go to the bathroom; this doesn't seem like enough time for anything physical to have occurred in my body from drinking that teensy bit of coffee.

But I leave it to more knowledgeable sources, what is the straight dope here?
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  #2  
Old 07-27-2012, 10:05 PM
Beware of Doug Beware of Doug is offline
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Coffee in itself (not just its caffeine) stimulates both peristalsis (intestinal movement) and diuresis (urine production). But that isn't saying much other than...they make you poop. And pee.

Last edited by Beware of Doug; 07-27-2012 at 10:06 PM..
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  #3  
Old 07-27-2012, 10:07 PM
griffon502 griffon502 is offline
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The caffein, I think. It stimulates bowel movement and also your metabolic rate.
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  #4  
Old 07-28-2012, 01:22 AM
voltaire voltaire is offline
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I'm pretty sure it's due to the acids in coffee. Try the special low-acid coffees and/or cold-brewing (which minimizes acid content) and you should notice much less of that effect.
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  #5  
Old 07-28-2012, 01:45 AM
dracoi dracoi is offline
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Another recent thread discusses the fact that eating (or even planning to eat) anything will tend to stimulate the bowels to move things along. Since coffee is the first thing that most people consume each day, it gets credit that any food or drink could claim.

It may also be worth noting that coffee does have some fiber in it. It's about 1-2 grams per cup, which is about 5-10% of daily RDA... and for a typical someone who's only getting half their RDA of fiber, a few cups of coffee could be a majority of their daily intake of fiber.
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  #6  
Old 07-28-2012, 05:16 AM
thelurkinghorror thelurkinghorror is offline
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Anecdote: coffee and energy drinks do it. Rockstar is probably the one I have the most experience with. Caffeinated sodas don't do it. And by "poop" you mean "horrible acid lava flow" then, yeah.

Doesn't fiber take longer? Acidity could be a factor, but I don't think coffee is much worse in that respect than many other things,
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  #7  
Old 07-28-2012, 07:07 AM
Arkcon Arkcon is offline
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Likewise, in another thread, suddenly adding warm food or drink to the stomach also stimulates a dowel movement or urination. Its a method for your body to dump (heh) excess heat.
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  #8  
Old 07-28-2012, 08:33 AM
tapu tapu is offline
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Hot water works, too. I've had kids drink a cup of hot (warm) water to get their little systems moving. Sometimes I'm feeling particularly kind and put in cocoa, but plain is best.

Last edited by tapu; 07-28-2012 at 08:33 AM..
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  #9  
Old 07-28-2012, 08:44 AM
River Hippie River Hippie is offline
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Back when I used to smoke, a cigarette would often have the same effect on me. Obviously not every time.
Let's say if I had a load staged and ready for a shipment, a cigarette would frequently expedite delivery.
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  #10  
Old 07-28-2012, 09:02 AM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arkcon View Post
Likewise, in another thread, suddenly adding warm food or drink to the stomach also stimulates a dowel movement or urination. Its a method for your body to dump (heh) excess heat.
Do the cabinetmakers know about this effect?
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  #11  
Old 07-28-2012, 11:14 AM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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Water has the same effect. I drink a 16 oz glass of water to re-hydrate when I get up in the morning. Within an hour the inevitable happens, especially if I eat something during that period.
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  #12  
Old 07-28-2012, 12:26 PM
Lanzy Lanzy is offline
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Coffee makes you poop????

Well, not me apparently.
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  #13  
Old 07-28-2012, 12:44 PM
Beware of Doug Beware of Doug is offline
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Looking back, I never had to reel off a yard in the mornings before I became a coffee drinker.

Last edited by Beware of Doug; 07-28-2012 at 12:46 PM..
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  #14  
Old 07-28-2012, 12:47 PM
johnpost johnpost is offline
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it's good to the last plop.
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  #15  
Old 07-28-2012, 12:54 PM
Happy Lendervedder Happy Lendervedder is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by River Hippie View Post
Back when I used to smoke, a cigarette would often have the same effect on me. Obviously not every time.
Let's say if I had a load staged and ready for a shipment, a cigarette would frequently expedite delivery.
Back when I used to smoke, if I was feeling a bit backed up, I'd stand outside my bathroom with a cup o' joe in one hand and a smoke in the other. Oftentimes just the aroma of the coffee and cigarette smoke would be enough to get the soldiers marching.
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  #16  
Old 07-28-2012, 03:33 PM
Ike Witt Ike Witt is offline
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Originally Posted by Happy Lendervedder View Post
Back when I used to smoke, if I was feeling a bit backed up, I'd stand outside my bathroom with a cup o' joe in one hand and a smoke in the other. Oftentimes just the aroma of the coffee and cigarette smoke would be enough to get the soldiers marching.
My aunt used to make a joke about her morning coffee and smoke.
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  #17  
Old 07-28-2012, 05:15 PM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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It can't be the caffeine, because Sanka is famous for helping old people poop without keeping them awake.
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  #18  
Old 07-28-2012, 05:28 PM
Morgenstern Morgenstern is offline
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Originally Posted by Chefguy View Post
Water has the same effect. I drink a 16 oz glass of water to re-hydrate when I get up in the morning. Within an hour the inevitable happens, especially if I eat something during that period.
You have a period?
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  #19  
Old 07-28-2012, 05:31 PM
needscoffee needscoffee is offline
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Man walks into a diner, tells the hostess "I'll have a bran muffin, prunes, and a cup of coffee."
"Will that be for here?"
"No, it's to go."
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  #20  
Old 07-28-2012, 05:37 PM
Ambivalid Ambivalid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dracoi View Post
Another recent thread discusses the fact that eating (or even planning to eat) anything will tend to stimulate the bowels to move things along. Since coffee is the first thing that most people consume each day, it gets credit that any food or drink could claim.

It may also be worth noting that coffee does have some fiber in it. It's about 1-2 grams per cup, which is about 5-10% of daily RDA... and for a typical someone who's only getting half their RDA of fiber, a few cups of coffee could be a majority of their daily intake of fiber.
nm

Last edited by Ambivalid; 07-28-2012 at 05:38 PM.. Reason: asked for cite but found it myself
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  #21  
Old 07-28-2012, 05:39 PM
etv78 etv78 is offline
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It may also be because most people drink coffee at breakfast, and have last night's dinner in their system.
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  #22  
Old 07-28-2012, 10:09 PM
tadtooornamental tadtooornamental is offline
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I don't experience the poop effect from coffee (unless I've had more than a few cups), but it, or any hot beverage for that matter, will have me taking pee breaks every 15 minutes for at least the next hour and a half.
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  #23  
Old 07-28-2012, 10:32 PM
Ambivalid Ambivalid is offline
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Originally Posted by etv78 View Post
It may also be because most people drink coffee at breakfast, and have last night's dinner in their system.
Yes. But there is also a definite psychological component involved as well because I often only need literally a sip or two of my first cup before I'm off to the shitter. There's just no way anything is making it's way through my digestive system that quickly.
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  #24  
Old 07-29-2012, 12:40 AM
RearEchelon RearEchelon is offline
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I don't have what you'd call a regular bowel... sometimes I'll shit 2-3 times a day, sometimes every other day. I drink at least 20oz of coffee every morning. So whatever its effect, I would say it doesn't work on me.
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  #25  
Old 07-29-2012, 12:50 AM
thelurkinghorror thelurkinghorror is offline
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And it's likely the OP would stop being affected if he toughed it out and drank coffee every day. Whether he wants to bother getting to that point is another matter.

Morning shits are common. But I agree, sounds like there is a psychological component.
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  #26  
Old 07-29-2012, 01:09 AM
Ambivalid Ambivalid is offline
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Originally Posted by thelurkinghorror View Post
And it's likely the OP would stop being affected if he toughed it out and drank coffee every day. Whether he wants to bother getting to that point is another matter.
This is a honest-to-goodness, in-all-sincerity question meant with no snark or sarcasm: did you actually read this OP of which you speak? Because I am a bit more than perplexed as to how you arrived at this response if so.

Last edited by Ambivalid; 07-29-2012 at 01:11 AM..
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  #27  
Old 07-29-2012, 01:50 AM
thelurkinghorror thelurkinghorror is offline
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WTF? The OP contains no information relevant to that. If you are offended by the "tough it out" part I am sorry, but I wasn't suggesting you were a wimp or anything like that. It means: continue drinking despite the problems.

The response is completely to RearEchelon. S/he drinks a good amount of coffee. You were not a topic of the post except as an acknowledgment as the person who started the thread. If you only drink it a couple times per year when a free pot is out (you do not say how much you drink). It is very likely that anyone with poop-related problems will find that it lessens if they keep drinking it despite the gastric issues, and eventually their body will get used to it.
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  #28  
Old 07-29-2012, 04:56 AM
dtilque dtilque is online now
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Nicotine definitely stimulates peristalis. Some people who quit smoking have trouble moving their bowels because they've become dependent on nicotine for that stimulation.

Fiber does not stimulate peristalis. Instead, it softens the stool and makes it flow through the system easier.
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  #29  
Old 07-29-2012, 10:00 AM
lance strongarm lance strongarm is offline
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Originally Posted by voltaire View Post
I'm pretty sure it's due to the acids in coffee. Try the special low-acid coffees and/or cold-brewing (which minimizes acid content) and you should notice much less of that effect.
I only drink cold-processed coffee and I can tell you it still works.
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  #30  
Old 07-29-2012, 10:01 AM
lance strongarm lance strongarm is offline
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Originally Posted by RearEchelon View Post
I don't have what you'd call a regular bowel... sometimes I'll shit 2-3 times a day, sometimes every other day. I drink at least 20oz of coffee every morning. So whatever its effect, I would say it doesn't work on me.
Do you drink more coffee during the day though?
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  #31  
Old 07-29-2012, 02:18 PM
Ambivalid Ambivalid is offline
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Originally Posted by thelurkinghorror View Post
WTF? The OP contains no information relevant to that. If you are offended by the "tough it out" part I am sorry, but I wasn't suggesting you were a wimp or anything like that. It means: continue drinking despite the problems.

The response is completely to RearEchelon. S/he drinks a good amount of coffee. You were not a topic of the post except as an acknowledgment as the person who started the thread. If you only drink it a couple times per year when a free pot is out (you do not say how much you drink). It is very likely that anyone with poop-related problems will find that it lessens if they keep drinking it despite the gastric issues, and eventually their body will get used to it.
Oh, then don't refer to RearEchelon's post as the "OP" and you won't get this sort of confusion in the future. By doing so, I thought you were referring to the actual OP.

Last edited by Ambivalid; 07-29-2012 at 02:20 PM..
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  #32  
Old 07-29-2012, 05:58 PM
california jobcase california jobcase is offline
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Dracoi, I have a hard time believing there's 1-2 g of fiber in a cup of coffee- regular filtered coffee anyway. I guess there could be some in French press or or other unfiltered types.
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  #33  
Old 07-29-2012, 06:24 PM
Ambivalid Ambivalid is offline
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Originally Posted by california jobcase View Post
Dracoi, I have a hard time believing there's 1-2 g of fiber in a cup of coffee- regular filtered coffee anyway.
That's because there isn't nearly that much in regular coffee. The actual amounts vary from 0.47 grams/0.75 grams per 100 milligrams of coffee (a cup).

Last edited by Ambivalid; 07-29-2012 at 06:26 PM..
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  #34  
Old 07-29-2012, 06:29 PM
Southern Yankee Southern Yankee is online now
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I'm with the OP. I drink coffee daily. I usually only drink it in the morning, before eating anything. I drink it strong (typical drink is 4 shots of espresso over ice.) Within 10 minutes of my first sip, the engine is churning. If I miss my morning coffee for some reason, all I need to do is have it at a later time to start the process. It's quite useful, actually.
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  #35  
Old 07-29-2012, 08:25 PM
RearEchelon RearEchelon is offline
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Originally Posted by lance strongarm View Post
Do you drink more coffee during the day though?
No, just in the mornings. Mon-Fri I have a 20oz travel mug which I fill at home and take to work, and that's all the coffee I'll drink that day. The rest of the day I'll drink water or gatorade or iced tea or water, and then maybe a beer or three when I get home. On weekends I'll drink half a pot at least, but still, only in the mornings.
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  #36  
Old 07-29-2012, 09:12 PM
california jobcase california jobcase is offline
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Ambivalid, 100 mg of brewed coffee would be a few drops. Perhaps you meant milliliters?

Last edited by california jobcase; 07-29-2012 at 09:13 PM..
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  #37  
Old 07-29-2012, 09:18 PM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is online now
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Lance years ago I had irregularity, sometimes only one bowel movement in a week. I drank plenty of coffee. Dr. advised me to sit at table when I drink my coffee, good posture and relax, maybe read the paper but no TV, I did that and it worked the first time and every time since, takes me just about 1 full cup of coffee or a tad more when I refill but always works.
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  #38  
Old 07-31-2012, 04:37 AM
benbo1 benbo1 is offline
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Originally Posted by River Hippie View Post
Back when I used to smoke, a cigarette would often have the same effect on me. Obviously not every time.
Let's say if I had a load staged and ready for a shipment, a cigarette would frequently expedite delivery.
Cecil covered the nicotine effect here. Strange, we have cells in the stomach whose purpose is to respond only to nicotine:

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/...o-the-bathroom

For what it's worth, I doubt caffeine is to blame - I drink decaf and it works. I also have a few squares of chocolate daily, which don't make me have to go (chocolate has caffeine as well). Finally, spicy foods (especially with capsaicin, which I think is regarded as a stimulant) don't automatically make me go either - so the caffeine being a stimulant probably ain't a factor. Coffee has been proven to have some antioxidant compounds, so maybe 1 of these works on the sphincters - I read somewhere there are 3 involuntary & 1 voluntary. Possibly just the right substance making those sphincters vibrate does the trick.
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  #39  
Old 07-31-2012, 05:01 AM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is offline
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For heaven's sake people... it's the damned caffeine. http://www.livestrong.com/article/41...wel-movements/

It's no kind of logic to say soda doesn't work or chocolate doesn't work, because these things have tiny (<30mg) amounts of caffeine. A cup of coffee has at least 200mg. And FWIW, caffeine works for me.

Anything you drink, eat, or read first thing in the morning is likely to be followed by a bowel movement. See if you can spot the common factor in the previous sentence.
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  #40  
Old 07-31-2012, 05:57 AM
benbo1 benbo1 is offline
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So people who don't drink caffeinated coffee don't poop? What happens, they hold it in til they explode?
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  #41  
Old 07-31-2012, 06:36 AM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is offline
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Originally Posted by benbo1 View Post
So people who don't drink caffeinated coffee don't poop? What happens, they hold it in til they explode?
Yes, in exactly the same way that if you never own a car, you will never leave your house. Stunning logic there.
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  #42  
Old 07-31-2012, 07:07 AM
kayaker kayaker is online now
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Originally Posted by HMS Irruncible View Post
For heaven's sake people... it's the damned caffeine.
Might wanna switch to decaf.
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  #43  
Old 07-31-2012, 09:51 AM
lance strongarm lance strongarm is offline
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Originally Posted by HMS Irruncible View Post
Anything you drink, eat, or read first thing in the morning is likely to be followed by a bowel movement. See if you can spot the common factor in the previous sentence.
I just noticed that I often open a newspaper in the morning and read about what Mitt Romney has said and then promptly poop.
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  #44  
Old 07-31-2012, 10:14 AM
thelurkinghorror thelurkinghorror is offline
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Originally Posted by benbo1 View Post
Cecil covered the nicotine effect here. Strange, we have cells in the stomach whose purpose is to respond only to nicotine:

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/...o-the-bathroom
Yes, but not only nicotine. They are made to respond to acetylcholine, a common neurotransmitter, and are found in many places in the body. It was discovered that they respond strongly to nicotine, while another type of receptor doesn't respond well but does to muscarine - the muscarinic receptor (yep, mushroom juice). Other drugs can affect it as well, like Varenicline (Chantix), and Epibatidine from the secretions of poison dart frogs.

Caffeine also affects acetylcholine, among other things. I don't know which receptor prefers it, though.
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  #45  
Old 07-31-2012, 10:55 AM
kcor1953 kcor1953 is offline
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Originally Posted by Tom Tildrum View Post
It can't be the caffeine, because Sanka is famous for helping old people poop without keeping them awake.
This one's my favorite, altho the typo with "dowel" was fun too.
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