What’s better than starting the day with a steaming cup of coffee or stopping for a quick cup of tea for an afternoon pick me up? ☕️❤️
Whatever the form of caffeine, an estimated 90% of the US population regularly consume caffeine, a stimulant that has been enjoyed for thousands of years. It’s hard not to indulge in, as caffeine can be found everywhere within our food supply, from beverages to chocolate. It can be difficult to wind down at night when you drink 3 or more cups throughout the day (it can stay in your system for up to 12 hours!)
"Caffeine is the most commonly consumed psychoactive drug," says Mary M. Sweeney, ofJohns Hopkins ✨ "When we consume caffeine, it has positive effects on mood and alertness, and people like these beneficial effects." Seriously, caffeine is a drug.
But isn't coffee healthy?
Although we know it can be counted on for a pick-me-up, more and more research is revealing the other health benefits of caffeine, including improved memory, enhanced athletic performance, beneficial effects on liver health and possible protection against Parkinson's disease.
That said, the Mayo Clinic reports that up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. That's roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola or two "energy shot" drinks.
After the safety limit, caffeine can pose problems such as gastrointestinal disorders, trouble sleeping, nervousness, anxiety, irregular heartbeat or excessive urination. Also, as caffeine can aggravate and accelerate our heart rates, it can be a problem for those with an existing heart condition (or sleep problem), according to Dr. Vince Bufalino, a spokesman for the American Heart Association. So – you’re thinking of doing a caffeine detox. How should you start?
Should You Quit Cold Turkey or Gradually?
There are two schools of thought about the best way to beat a caffeine addiction — quit suddenly or quit gradually. The key to deciding is knowing yourself and how you normally respond to these kinds of challenges. From a neuroscience perspective, taking small steps gives you time to actually rewire your brain to create new, healthier habits.
However, some people are excited by big goals — like quitting cold turkey. Setting bold goals provides a nice boost of the neurotransmitter dopamine, known as the “motivation molecule.”
Minimize Symptoms of Caffeine Withdrawal with The 25% Solution
However, Johns Hopkins researchers, who have studied caffeine withdrawal in depth, endorse a gradual approach to minimize withdrawal symptoms. Here’s a simple plan to quit drinking coffee gradually by swapping out 25% regular coffee with decaffeinated coffee each week for one month.
This plan can be adapted to any other caffeinated beverage that has a decaffeinated option as well. One of the advantages of this stepped plan is that you don’t need to make any other behavioral changes to succeed.
Week 1: Drink 75% regular, 25% decaf.
Week 2: Drink 50% regular, 50% decaf.
Week 3: Drink 25% regular, 75% decaf.
Week 4: Drink 100% decaf.
Easing the Symptoms of Caffeine Withdrawal
Whether you decide to quit immediately or gradually, here are a few things you can do to make your journey to caffeine-free easier and ultimately more successful.
Maintain Your Rituals
Daily rituals are important to continue for success on this detox. Feller stresses the important of maintaining your routine, with healthier alternatives, to make the transition easier. For example, if you love enjoying the a bit of bubbly with a can of soda in the afternoon, do the same thing with seltzer. That way you get the satisfaction of the can pop and the carbonation without the harmful caffeine or added calories. Another solution, for nighttime coffee drinkers, is to keep your routine but swap out coffee for chicory root. This herbal mix tastes like coffee without the caffeine so you can still enjoy your cup before bed without negative side effects.
Supplements for Caffeine Withdrawal
While there isn’t much scientific evidence that supplements are helpful with caffeine withdrawal, here are some that are anecdotally reported to be helpful:
- vitamin C and B complex
- minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc
- amino acids tyrosine or phenylalanine
A group of herbal remedies known as adaptogens can be useful for caffeine withdrawal. Adaptogens mitigate the effects of stress while bringing the body into a state of balance — simultaneously calming and boosting energy without being overstimulating. Some adaptogens to consider are ginseng, ginger, ashwagandha, Bacopa monnieri, and Rhodiola rosea. We loved the ones from Four Sigmatic- they really helped boost energy without caffeine but instead helped balance energy levels with reishi and chaga.
Essential Oils for Caffeine Withdrawal Headaches
Another natural way to treat caffeine withdrawal headaches is with essential oils. Try rubbing a bit of our Midnight Shift Overnight Facial Oil on your skin. Lavender, amongst other essential oils, have been scientifically proven to relieve headaches and anxiety.
Amazingly, rosemary essential oil even helps with the symptoms of opium withdrawal, so it should be helpful for caffeine withdrawal as well.
Other essential oils known to reduce headache pain include: