Caffeine Withdrawal

Question: Can caffeine withdrawal really occur? I did not think that I was addicted to caffeine or coffee, but I’ve noticed that when I miss my morning cup of coffee, I feel really cranky and sleepy. Is this caffeine withdrawal or just the effects of breaking routine?

Answer: Caffeine is a psychoactive drug, meaning it has effects on the brain and body functions. Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive drug in the word and the only drug commonly added to foods. Because caffeine has effects on brain and body function, it can become addictive. Caffeine is generally considered harmless in moderate doses. In excessive doses caffeine may increase your risk of developing some diseases.

Caffeine raises the heart rate and slightly elevates blood pressure. Caffeine aggravates high blood pressure, contributes to osteoporosis, is associated (at low levels) with and increased risk of colon cancer, and can cause insomnia, anxiety, heart palpitations, and shortened menstrual cycles (which may be a benefit…depending on who you ask :) )

Caffeine does not act as strongly on the brain as the more powerful and dangerous drugs do, however; it is still considered mildly addictive and does produce some physical dependence. When caffeine is not available to someone who has a dependence on caffeine then caffeine withdrawal can occur.

Caffeine withdrawal can cause that grumpy, headachy feeling you get after a day or two without your “morning coffee fix.” Caffeine withdrawal symptoms vary but often include headache, irritability, sleepiness, fatigue, depression, impaired performance, and poor concentration and focus.

For most people, caffeine withdrawal symptoms usually last for a week, and although they may be very irritating, symptoms are usually not severe enough to seek medicinal attention. For a small number of people however, the depression that occurs from caffeine withdrawal can be so severe that treatment becomes necessary.

Supplements for Caffeine Withdrawal

Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that acts as a mood elevator and has been suggested as a temporary substitute to ease the effects of caffeine withdrawal. No more than 500 mg should be taken in one dosage.

Kava relieves muscle tension and nervousness.

B-complex vitamins help your nervous system adjust to caffeine withdrawal and decrease feelings of agitation.

Vitamin C, E, and other antioxidant nutrients help the detoxification process and protect the body.

Calcium and magnesium helps relax the muscles and nervous system to help control feelings of anxiety.

Spirulina is high in antioxidants and is an excellent nervous system support food.

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