By Army News Service

AR NewsMembers of the Victory detachment of the Rapid Equipping Force-Iraq, try military caffeine gum Jan. 13. Each piece of the gum contains 100 mg of caffeine, which is about the amount found in a six-ounce cup of coffee.
Capt. Patrick McNutt

FORT DETRICK, Md. (Army News Service, Jan. 17, 2006) – The Army recently finished testing military caffeine gum caffeine gum as a countermeasure for fatigue and the new product is now available through military supply channels.

 Gum 5 times faster than coffee

Each piece of military caffeine gum contains 100 mg of caffeine, which is about the amount found in a six-ounce cup of coffee.

“Because it’s chewed, it delivers caffeine to the body four to five times faster than a liquid or pill because it’s absorbed through tissues in the mouth — not the gut, like in traditional formulations,” Dr. Kamimori, a behavioral Army researcher, said.

A sleep researcher, he learned of the idea of delivering caffeine through gum in 1998. Congress funded the first study on the gum a year later.

When the study validated how fast the caffeine was absorbed in the body, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command began developing and testing military caffeine gum for use in sustained or continuous military operations when Soldiers typically don’t get enough sleep.

Study finds caffeine safe

A report from the Committee on Military Nutrition Research on “Caffeine for the sustainability of mental task performance” published in 2001 also lent more support for the product. Included in the report was a review of the detrimental effects of sleep restriction and sleep deprivation on mental and physical performance.

The report concluded that caffeine was safe and effective and supported developing the caffeinated chewing gum.

Kamimori’s staff has validated the gum’s physiological effects in both single and multiple doses. The staff was also able to determine the best dosing regimens for Soldiers who, because of their mission, aren’t able to go to sleep.

“We’ve also evaluated the effects of habitual use of the gum and determined the effects of caffeine administration on the subsequent ability to sleep in Soldiers who were kept awake for 36 to 77 hours straight,” Kamimori said. “They were able to sleep just as well as the groups that received placebos.”

Gum keeps troops alert

Researchers have also conducted studies with colleagues from Defense Research and Development Canada–Toronto and the New Zealand Defense Forces, with promising results, Kamimori said.

“In three studies, using multiple administrations of caffeine with, they (Soldiers) military caffeine gum reported that alertness, marksmanship — both simulated and live fire — vigilance on observation and reconnaissance tasks and physical performance during simulated operations were either maintained or improved as compared to those Soldiers who received a placebo chewing gum,” he said.

Gum part of SOF rations

The Department of Defense Combat Feeding Program of the Natick Soldier Center in Massachusetts also tested and approved the gum to become a component of the experimental “First Strike Ration.” The lightweight ration is designed for Special Operations Forces.

Three hundred cases of the military caffeine gum went to Soldiers in the field in 2004.

“What we’ve heard from troops using the product both in the U.S. and in the Middle East has been positive,” Kamimori said.

military caffeine gum has a National Stock Number (NSN #8970-01-530-1219) and is available to all military personnel.