CAFFEINE (Addiction & Withdrawal)

Caffeine is a drug – and the most widely used one in the world. It can be hidden in chocolate bars, energy drinks or your morning beverage but the fact of the matter is – IT IS ADDICTIVE leaving you wanting to experience more of the stimulating “high” it gives you. It is also social, an excuse for a get together at the local coffee shop. Tea drinking in fact dates back to 2737 BC and coffee consumption as far back as 1000 AD where it is documented as beginning in Ethiopia.


Caffeine stimulates our adrenal glands as do Ventolin sprays, certain viruses (glandular fever is one of the worst) and stress. Our adrenal glands sit on top of our kidneys and are responsible for our “flight or fight” response. If these glands are constantly subjected to these stimuli, then they become exhausted and as a result you will feel exhausted. One of the classic end results of exhausted adrenal glands is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Once a person falls victim to adrenal exhaustion, it is only natural that they will start looking for something that can give them a “kick-start”, even if it isn’t permanent, in fact it is short lived and we quickly build up tolerance with regular use. In today’s workaholic society, we often see caffeine being consumed in place of taking a break, in order to keep us focused and thinking clearly. If you are needing numerous cups a day in order to get through it, then – you are addicted! You then run the risk of not being able to wind down at night when it is time to go to bed, which will result in loss of sleep and add to your exhaustion the next day, which then becomes a viscous circle. Don't forget it is not only the coffee that you are probably addicted to, often there is an associated "something sweet " accompanying the coffee and possibly even sugar in the coffee, which now means that if you decide to give up the coffee you are going to have to deal with the sugar withdrawal symptoms also!

Food Caffeine content

Drink/Product Size/Amount Caffeine Content

Tea (medium strength) 250 ml 10-50 mg

Cocoa 250 ml 30–60 mg


Instant (1 tsp/cup) 250 ml 60-80 mg

Drip/percolated 250 ml 60-120 mg

Espresso 250 ml 105-110 mg

Decaffeinated 250 ml 2–6 mg

Coca Cola 375 ml can 40–50 mg

Energy drink 250 ml 50–80 mg

Milk chocolate bar 100 g bar 20 mg


Caffeine is found naturally occurring in tea, cola nut, cocao pod, guarana and yerba mate with coffee containing the highest amount of caffeine. It can also be produced synthetically and added to drinks, supplements, food and medications. I had a patient present with fatigue a couple of months ago. Upon questioning she informed me that she consumed about twelve coffee a day. Her reasoning was that they were only little expresso shots – as if the size of the cup equated to the amount of caffeine contained in it! First thing I had to do before I could begin the task of healing her adrenal glands was to withdraw her from the caffeine – much to her horror!

Yes, the caffeine content of a cup of coffee is dependant on how finely the coffee is ground, how dark the roast, the brewing method used, how much coffee is used to make the drink and the type of coffee bean used BUT…the difference between an expresso shot and a cup is really only the amount of water added to the coffee.

Caffeine withdrawal symptoms include:

· Headache

· Irritability

· Difficulty concentrating

· Fatigue

· Sweating

· Anxiety & tension

SUPPLEMENTS (To aid withdrawal)

Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticossus) is for structure and function of the adrenal glands.  Unlike Guarana, you won't take it and get a "hit".  It takes about ten days usually to start to have an effect on the adrenals resulting in your energy levels starting to improve.  I like Ginseng because if you don't have adrenal exhaustion then you won't notice any difference, so all you really have to lose is the price of a two week bottle of Ginseng.  If you do in fact have adrenal exhaustion then it takes about two months of Siberian Ginseng (which is quite pleasant tasting by the way) at a once a day dose to correct the structure and function and have your energy levels back to where they should be.  Therefore, if you are considering cutting down or eliminating your coffee intake, I would consider starting the Siberian Ginseng a week before doing so, to help support the often associated fatigue.

I would definitely do some liver support in the shape of some herbs such as St Mary's Thistle (Silybum marianum), Globe Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) and/or Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale).  These herbs should help with the headaches, sweating, irritability and fatigue.  Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) and/or Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) would be good choices for the anxiety and tension and difficulty concentrating.  If you are used to having sugar in your coffee then you might want to consider some Chromium tablets which will help you utilize the sugars from your food so that you won't  miss the sugar in your coffee. 

Date posted: 2014-04-26 | posted by: debras

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