This is coolbert:
From the National Geographic issue January 2005 article - - "Caffeine".
A description of a military experiment - - the goal of which is to find a "natural" stimulant - - to provide a boost for combat troops!
"Allowed just three hours of sleep in 52 hours of running, target shooting and vigilance exercises, weary soldiers in Canada's Operation Nighthawk tested chewing gum with 100 milligrams of caffeine per stick as a 'fatigue countermeasure.' Absorbed directly through membranes in the mouth, chewed caffeine goes to work three times faster than caffeine in drinks or pills."
Soldiers, deprived of sleep and put through a variety of exercises to the point of exhaustion, are given a "stimulant" [caffeine] to restore and enhance alertness and counter fatigue. Attempting to see if troops can maintain a high level of performance for extended periods of time, while getting very limited rest, given a "stimulant" [caffeine], natural in form, not addictive. An alternative to amphetamines.
Amphetamines can give a person: "a mental state of wakefulness, focus and alertness" but with very bad side effects. A more natural stimulant is desired. But "naturalness" given in what quantities and how administered is the question!
[caffeine too has drawbacks: "anxiety, jitteriness", and heart palpitations"]
Here, as researched by the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, is a possible superior alternative to caffeine.
"Yerba mate (British spelling, Yerba-maté . . . is a species of holly (family Aquifoliaceae) native to subtropical South America in Argentina, eastern Paraguay, western Uruguay and southern Brazil."
As imbibed by the gauchos of South America. A drink brewed from the leaves of the yerba mate', high in caffeine but without [high blood pressure if taken with certain other medications has been observed] any debilitating effect. NO "anxiety, jitteriness", and heart palpitations"! And also, having nutritional value as well.
"The gaucho diet was composed almost entirely of beef while on the range, supplemented by yerba mate, an herbal tea-like drink rich in caffeine and nutrients"
"Mate products are sometimes marketed as "caffeine-free" alternatives to coffee and tea, and said to have fewer negative effects."
"From reports of personal experience with mate, its physiological effects are similar to (yet distinct from) more widespread caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, or guarana drinks. Users report a mental state of wakefulness, focus and alertness reminiscent of most stimulants, but often remark on mate's unique lack of the negative effects typically created by other such compounds, such as anxiety, 'jitteriness', and heart palpitations."
"Mate's negative effects are anecdotally claimed to be of a lesser degree than those of coffee . . . Many users report that drinking yerba mate does not prevent them from being able to fall asleep, as is often the case with some more common stimulating beverages, while still enhancing their energy and ability to remain awake at will."
Yerba Mate'! The drink that does it all? Increased energy, alertness, but no side effects and you can fall asleep when you want to. Drugging the troops with amphetamines is not the way to go. Will become abused and have too many side effects to be handle responsibly. Also distort the mental processes and prevent sound decisions from being made.
[years ago at the National Training Center [NTC], U.S. Army battalions were put through two and three days of continuous field exercises [FTX] against the OPFOR. Battalion commanders thought they could go during the entire time of the FTX without sleep and remain in total control, AND STILL RETAIN THEIR FULL SENSES OF DECISION MAKING!! This was found very quickly to be not true. These commanders quite often made erroneous critical decisions in a befuddled state of bleary-eyed sleeplessness!!]
Perhaps too, some of these Zulu inyanga [witch doctors] already know about this stuff [non-debilitating stimulants] and have yet another alternative? Zulu military units did have "embedded" combat medics [inyanga] who have a formidable range of pharmaceuticals at their disposal, all enhancing the fighting ability of the troop!