3 tried-and-true tips to help you kick the caf­feine habit

Amazing Wellness - - CONTENTS - By Emily A. Kane, ND, LAc

Quit­ting Caf­feine 3 tried-and-true tips to help you kick the caf­feine habit.

Much of what we know about caf­feine comes from early mil­i­tary re­search on stim­u­lants pur­ported to in­crease men­tal en­ergy and stamina de­spite sleep de­pri­va­tion and ex­treme en­vi­ron­ments. And in the case of men­tal en­ergy, caf­feine def­i­nitely works. Be­cause it con­stricts blood ves­sels in the brain, caf­feine throws the brain into overdrive, which sends a sig­nal to your adrenal glands to pro­duce adren­a­line and starts a fight-or-flight cas­cade. This is why caf­feine gives folks a jolt, or even the jit­ters.

Most peo­ple can han­dle this short-term. But long-term, day af­ter day, in­gest­ing caf­feine is like “whip­ping a tired horse.” Your blood pres­sure and choles­terol go up, your risk for os­teo­poro­sis in­creases, and your blood sugar con­trol is com­pro­mised. Plus, caf­feine is ex­tremely de­hy­drat­ing. Caf­feine de­hy­dra­tion is com­pounded by an adren­a­line re­ac­tion that con­trib­utes to sodium de­ple­tion through ex­ces­sive ex­cre­tion of our most abun­dant min­eral. Folks with adrenal fa­tigue typ­i­cally crave salt. The first part of the fix is to ditch the caf­feine.

Caf­feine is a vaso­con­stric­tor, mean­ing it nar­rows the blood ves­sels, es­pe­cially the tiny ones in the brain, kid­neys, retina, and ex­trem­i­ties, thus in­hibit­ing op­ti­mal blood flow and oxy­gen de­liv­ery to tis­sues. Caf­feine can also in­crease your risk of de­vel­op­ing di­a­betes. Con­sum­ing caf­feine along with car­bo­hy­dra­terich foods can dou­ble the im­me­di­ate in­crease in blood sugar lev­els com­pared to con­sum­ing carbs alone.

Re­search on cof­fee does come up with some pos­i­tives, but this has noth­ing to do with caf­feine. Cof­fee’s ben­e­fits are all about the an­tiox­i­dant con­tent of the darkly pig­mented beans.


If you’re think­ing about giv­ing up your morn­ing brew, you will likely get with­drawal headaches (from the re­bound va­sodi­la­tion—too much blood flow to the brain as the vaso­con­strict­ing ef­fect wears off) for 3–10 days. Dur­ing this time, stay ex­tra-hy­drated with wa­ter (the best drink), her­bal teas, and bone broths. You can also chew on mint leaves, suck on gin­ger root, sprin­kle cayenne pep­per on ev­ery­thing ( 1/ tsp. max per drink or meal

8 serv­ing), ex­er­cise more, or lie down in a dark room with an ice pack wrapped in a towel un­der the back of your neck. Here are some more tips to help you kick the caf­feine habit.


B vi­ta­mins are won­der­ful for nour­ish­ing jan­gled nerves, so try tak­ing a qual­ity B com­plex with 1,000 mcg of methy­lated B (methyl­cobal­amin) and

12 about 50 mg each of the other num­bered, wa­ter-sol­u­ble Bs. Take it twice daily, with food, but not af­ter 4 p.m. Some folks find B vi­ta­mins over­stim­u­lat­ing when taken too close to bed­time.

Cho­line, lecithin, and in­os­i­tol (all “fatty” B vi­ta­mins) are also very help­ful. I like to put a heap­ing ta­ble­spoon of lecithin on steel-cut oats, and add some nuts, seeds, and re­hy­drated dry fruit (raisins, cran­ber­ries, apri­cots) for a nerve-sooth­ing and fill­ing break­fast.

Vi­ta­min E is very sup­port­ive to the en­docrine sys­tem, and most use­ful in the 400–800 IU

range, es­pe­cially if you are over age 40. The ner­vous sys­tem is con­nected to the en­docrine sys­tem most vividly in the stress re­sponse, so both nerve and hor­monal sup­port will help you tran­si­tion off caf­feine.


My fa­vorite her­bal tea to sip when you’re quit­ting caf­feine is chamomile. Con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, strongly brewed chamomile is ac­tu­ally a mild stim­u­lant (as op­posed to weakly brewed chamomile, which helps us re­lax at bed­time). So make a strong pot in the morn­ing (5 teabags to 4 cups of hot wa­ter), put it into a ther­mos, and sip through­out the day. Chamomile is also an amaz­ing nerve-nour­ish­ing plant that can help re­lieve the drowsi­ness and shak­i­ness that ac­com­pa­nies caf­feine with­drawal.


Caf­feine with­drawal headaches are caused mostly via va­sodi­la­tion, but they can also be ex­ac­er­bated by re­ab­sorp­tion of tox­ins if caf­feine with­drawal causes con­sti­pa­tion. So it’s im­por­tant to eat plenty of fiber-rich veg­eta­bles and fruits, along with whole grains and high-qual­ity cold-pressed oils. Be sure to drink at least 8 cups of wa­ter daily. And use a light, senna-based her­bal lax­a­tive if needed.


Once you’ve kicked your caf­feine habit, it may be pos­si­ble to use it very oc­ca­sion­ally—if, say, you need to drive when tired or study for an exam. But re­mem­ber that gen­tler meth­ods of main­tain­ing good en­ergy lev­els—such as get­ting enough sleep—are al­ways prefer­able. And if you find that you miss the “rit­ual” of the morn­ing cof­fee, be as­sured that a ro­bust tea, such as Rooibush or Roas­taroma, can be­come equally sat­is­fy­ing over time.

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