There hasn’t been a long period of time when caffeine hasn’t a part of my life.
About 90% of adult Americans consume some form of caffeine on a daily basis. That is an alarming statistic due to the fact that caffeine has many harmful effects on the mind, body, and spirit.
I have used it quite regularly to get me through times where I felt tired, or had to keep going when I wanted to rest instead. I never attributed my up and down moods to caffeine consumption, but after everything else was factored out all that remained for me was caffeine.
It wasn’t always just coffee that I consumed, but also green tea, or even white tea (thinking that these were healthy alternatives), however I soon realized as my symptoms persisted that even caffeinated teas are taxing on the bodies natural rhythms.
It’s challenging to let go of caffeine because the withdrawal is extremely difficult. It does not happen in a couple of weeks like most websites will have you believe, but it requires a long process as the body recovers and the stress hormones return back to their normal state.
This is my experience about how caffeine has affected my life in a negative way, your experience may be different. What I do know is that caffeine pumps out adrenaline from the adrenal glands and that puts the body in a flight or fight response. This may work for you for a short time, but with increased and consistent use, the body begins to break down and sensitivities to other foods and allergens increase considerably.
If you want the exact science of what caffeine does to your body I highly recommend Caffeine Blues one of the best books ever written on the subject.
My caffeine related symptoms:
- Never hungry, lost weight
- Felt panicky, never settled
- Heart raced
- Felt rushed
- Felt stressed
- Skin dry, dehydrated
- Short fuse, easily angered
- Mood swings
- Adrenal exhaustion
- Severe PMS and post postpartum depression
- TMJ, clenched teeth at night
- Digestion issues
- Felt out of my body, difficult to meditate
- Pain in my right arm, shoulder, jaw, ear
- Pain in my thyroid glands
- Racing thoughts, low focus, and concentration
- Extreme lower back pain
- Muscle and joint tension
- Nail wouldn’t grow long
- Hair would fall out
- Never slept deeply
- Never felt fully rested
- Exhausted most of the time
- Depletion of natural minerals and vitamins (intestinal tract couldn’t absorb them and digestion was poor)
- Started showing signs of aging
Since I quit almost all of these symptoms have disappeared and its only been five weeks. This may be quicker than it may take for some because I eat a very clean diet of only raw foods, for this reason your results may vary.
It’s been a little over a month and I still need a lot of rest and cannot exercise yet at my full capacity. However, all the stress, panic, low back and shoulder pain, lack of sleep, dry skin, and other symptoms have completely gone away. There are supplements that I am taking that have been recommended by the author of Caffeine Blues, he is a nutritionist and has worked with Olympic athletes to help them with their exercise performance. Since I have been taking the supplements he recommended I felt a lot better within a week. He also recommends exercise as a way to help you improve your natural energy levels and the supplements help you to feel energized so you can exercise regularly either for the first time, or again after your recovery process. I will list all these supplements at the end of this article.
Caffeine depletes your levels of magnesium, which most people are already deficient in anyway. I take a supplement of Natural Vitality Magnesium three times per day. I like getting the powder and allowing it to dissolve in water. You will feel an immediate relaxation in your muscles as well as restore our magnesium levels that the caffeine depleted from your body. Magnesium is a water soluble mineral so you cannot really take too much, but research to see what is best for you.
Next I will list the withdrawal symptoms I experienced. I am still really tired on some days and can barely do anything or think well, but as the book Caffeine Blues states you have to give it at least 60 days before you feel completely OK again. I’ve heard for some people it can take up to 6 months. In his book he gives you a complete plan so you do not experience the withdrawal symptoms, but I quit cold turkey before discovering his book.
I did a lot of research on the subject and there isn’t a lot of information out there because it is a huge industry so all you may find online is the benefits of caffeine, however I have found some sites with many comments by people who have had similar experiences and it’s good to read those too. I will list them at the end of this article.
My withdrawal symptoms:
- The first few days were a nightmare, pounding headache couldn’t move out of bed, I knew this would happen so I took some Aleve just to get through the extreme pain. If you decide to take Aleve, take it before the headache actually starts because then you wont get one, take it every four hours for a couple days just to get through the worst pain.
- The first week I felt really low energy could only do the bare minimum.
- The second week I started getting depressed. I have never been depressed in my life, even my postpartum depression was actually more like mania. It felt like I would never be myself again and never have energy. This thought depressed me a lot. This depression lasted for a couple of weeks.
- Up until the third week I slept about 12 hours per day, my body catching up on all the sleep I’ve missed.
- My normal go, go, go mindset completely left me and this made me feel very unproductive.
- My mind felt like I couldn’t think and my creativity completely vanished.
- I would get bouts of crying spells where I felt really unhappy, but this is normal as the natural serotonin and dopamine levels take awhile to balance again.
- Felt emotionless no feeling at all sometimes, but then suddenly a crying spell.
Now that it’s been over a month I am just beginning to see the wonderful benefits of being caffeine free. I am so relieved that I actually did it. I have stopped before, but never truly committed to never ingesting it again in my life. This time I was acutely aware of the process, also as I’ve gotten older I am realizing that my sensitivities to caffeine are growing so I just can’t handle it anymore. My adrenal glands were extremely overworked and stressed out.
Caffeine eventually will make your body allergic to many other foods and environmental factors because the overload of toxicity on the liver does not allow for it to function properly. You may find after stopping caffeine that your body becomes less allergic to other things which is a great benefit.
Benefits I’ve already experienced after stopping for five weeks:
- Really calm and in my body
- Can enter a deep state of rest and relaxation, meditation is so easy now
- Feel completely in the now moment
- Not concerned with past or future
- Do not feel stressed about anything at all
- Let go of a lot of control issues
- Can focus completely on the task in front of me
- Do not get upset about anything, if I cry its a release and very short term
- I am digesting my food properly and assimilating all my nutrients
- All the muscle, jaw, shoulder, low back pain vanished
- I can now enter stage 4 sleep where my body recovers much more quickly
- Signs of aging almost completely vanished, fine lines vanished and feel so much healthier
- My appetite returned, started gaining some of my weight back, you can also lose weight if you are overweight because the hormone levels are affected and depends if you have a hyper or hypo thyroid
- One of the greatest gifts so far has been my son saying to me yesterday, “Wow mom, you are so calm it is so wonderful, I am sure that it’s because you stopped caffeine.”
The recovery process is still far from over for me as I still have some bad days where I just have to rest all day. The reason I have never quit for good in the past is due to a feeling that I have so much to do and cannot take the time out to recover. To my amazement the Universe is so loving and when you do the right thing for your body and health, everything is always taken care of. So this has also been a very spiritual process and has allowed me to trust much more than before.
I’ve had to surrender and know that even though I am not able to be as energetic as usual, everything gets done. It’s amazing that our society makes us believe we have to do so much to get things done, actually the opposite is true in my experience. I do less running around and feeling hectic and instead I involve myself in activities that are more in alignment with my soul’s purpose. I do things calmly, while fully focused because I am in the now moment. It is truly a blessing.
Here is a list of the recommended supplements, book, and websites so you can do your own research.
After taking the above supplements daily for about a week, maybe a bit longer I got my energy back and was able to do yoga again and some light jogging. I would also recommend drinking a lot of water and eating many fresh fruits and vegetables during your withdrawal process it will definitely make a difference so you will feel better much faster. If you want more information on how a raw food diet can change your life you can order my eBook A Raw Food Journey.
Good luck to all of you on your journey towards health and wellness.