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Sunday, January 20, 2013

I Quit Coffee!

I Quit Coffee!

Hey y'all! Get ready for another Bluebonnet Natural Healing Therapy info bomb! This one is on the benefits of quitting caffeine, getting off coffee, breaking the coffee addiction, any other way you want to quit drinking coffee! I did it, and so can you! On to the good stuff...

As promised, I want to share with you a bundle of information on coffee and caffeine in general, for those who are addicted to Cokes as I once was (Dr. Pepper in my case- I still like it) and energy drinks (oh boy!).

First, some amazing graphics, which are health lectures in themselves:

Image courtesy of

Consumer Reports states that an 8 oz. cup of coffee has roughly 100mg caffeine in it. However, this depends on how the coffee is brewed. Consumer Reports measured 8 oz. Starbucks coffee and discovered their brews average 165mg caffeine.

Now consider that many of us own coffee cups that hold 12 or even 16oz. coffee at once. We call that a "cup of coffee," and we may be drinking two mugs of coffee every morning. I did. So if I had two 12 oz. mugs of coffee every morning with a semi-strong brew, I was most likely ingesting 375mg caffeine in the morning alone. 

I never got a small coffee at Starbucks. The 8 oz. "short" cup at Starbucks has to be ordered by name. Starbucks doesn't even list "short" on the menu. If you want a small coffee off the Starbucks menu, you will get their medium size, a "tall," which is 12 oz. So a tall Starbucks brew delivers closer to 250mg caffeine per "cup."

Consumer Reports sets 400mg as the safe adult limit for caffeine consumption. For pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, it's 200mg, and for children , it's 45-85mg, depending on the weight of the child.

What happens when a person overdoses on caffeine? 

Image by wiki

If you ever experience any of these symptoms, think about how much coffee, black tea, Cokes, and energy drinks you have been consuming.

Even though this post is about breaking a coffee addiction, you may want to inform yourself about the hazards of energy drinks.

Caffeine's effect on mental disorders

In 2010, the Journal of Alzeimer's Disease published an interesting study which questioned the effects of caffeine on people with and without mental disorders. While the benefits of mild caffeine consumption  are scientifically documented to include increased alertness, mood elevation, longer attention spans, and better cognitive function, an overdose of caffeine can induce both psychotic and manic symptoms. In addition, higher doses of caffeine can cause anxiety and panic attacks. patients with panic disorder and social anxiety disorder (SAD) are quite sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

Cambridge University strongly suggests that people with anxiety disorders abstain from coffee.

Let me offer you some scientific facts on coffee and caffeine.

  • Caffeine in small, intermittent amounts acts as a pain reliever. However, consuming caffeine/coffee regularly can cause what Current Pain and Headache Reports calls daily "analgesic-overuse" headaches. It also causes a physical dependency, because caffeine is a drug. When people quit coffee and caffeine, the experience withdrawal symptoms with headaches being the dominant symptom. Caffeine, in the doses most people consume acts as a potent nervous system blocker for adenosine receptors. This translates to rapid heart rhythm (tachycardia), decreased dopamine levels (a pleasure or reward-seeking neurotransmitter), increases in Parkinson's disease- like symptoms, an increase in ADHD symptoms, and restless leg syndrome.
  • Caffeine does improve sports performance, but not very significantly, according to several studies, including the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.
  • While coffee consumption is linked to a lower risk if certain kinds of cancer,  drinking too much coffee increases the risk for bladder cancer, especially in men.
  • As far as dehydration goes, coffee is dehydrating if a person does not drink it daily However, medical science has proven that coffee is no more dehydrating than water in habitual coffee drinkers.
  • Medline Plus offers an informative list of symptoms of caffeine overdose. Interestingly, the website calls caffeine a "medication," and lists the emergency contact number for Poison Control.
  • While it is virtually impossible to drink enough coffee to acquire a lethal dose of caffeine, patients who are on prescription SSRI antidepressants such as Luvox or fluoroquinolone antibiotics such as Levaquin or Tavanic are at risk of feeling the effects of caffeine at five times normal levels, according to Forensic Science International and other resources.
  • There is a link between caffeine consumption and osteoporosis, but not to the extent that some might believe, according to American Family Physician. Vitamin D and calcium therapy (natural, of course) counters the effects of caffeine on bone tissue.

"Caffeinism" and the road to adrenal exhaustion

"Caffeinism" is a term coined by Stephen Cherniske in his book, Caffeine Blues. Cherniske explains how caffeine is a drug which causes neurons in your brain to begin firing, which triggers your pituitary gland to secrete the hormone which causes your adrenal glands to produce adrenalin. Adrenalin is the source of the "fight or flight response." Once the adrenalin high wears off, you feel exhausted, irritable, confused, and you get a headache. The more coffee sodas, or energy drinks you consume the more you keep your body in a constant state of unnecessary stress. It's like being on call for a fire emergency as a fireman or a soldier ready to be called to front line duty.

You can actually burn out your adrenal glands doing this. This is why people drink pots of coffee and six packs of sodas every day. Because caffeine is a physically addicting drug, it takes more and more caffeine for them to feel the stimulation they used to feel when they first started drinking coffee. Eventually, to be without this drug for even a small amount of time causes withdrawal symptoms. 

How to quit coffee naturally

I quit coffee cold turkey. I just said, "I'm quitting now," and I have not had a drop since. I drank copious amounts of distilled water for a couple of days, either plain or in an organic herbal tea which did not contain any caffeine at all.

The first day was the roughest. I noticed a slight headache, but my primary symptom was fatigue. I fell asleep at my computer multiple times, and finally took an hour-long nap. I went to bed early, sleeping for nine hours.

My bowel elimination schedule was off, since coffee stimulates bowel activity. It took a few days to get back on a regular schedule.

On the second day,  I felt much better, but I became irritable over minor issues. I told my family I was getting of coffee, and asked them to forgive me when I got crabby.

On the third day, all physical symptoms were gone. I just felt an ill-defined sense of loss or lack of fulfillment, like a flat Coke. It felt strange to let go of something that has been a part of my signature for decades.

By the fourth day, I really did not miss coffee. I did notice an increase in appetite, especially in the morning when I woke up. Since this is a normal neurotransmitter response, I knew this was a good thing. I also knew I would most likely need to either increase my plant fiber intake or take an herbal supplement to retrain my intestines in how to function properly without coffee. I also think I will do a really good kidney cleanse a few times to get the residual coffee out of my kidneys and bladder.

Other ways to get off coffee naturally

  • Kola nut- if you prefer to wean slowly off caffeine, kola nut contains some caffeine but is not addictive the way coffee is
  • Cayenne- stimulates the cardiovascular system in healthy ways
  • Ashwangandha- the primary herb for restoring adrenal function
  • St. John's Wort- the famous herbal antidepressant may help to keep your mood elevated until your body restores its own brain chemicals
I would love to hear your own stories about coming off coffee! Please leave any helpful comments below!

P.S.: Bluebonnet Natural Healing Therapy is now on Facebook! Be sure to like us!

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