by E.C. LaMeaux
More than 90 percent of Americans consume the equivalent of two cups of coffee a day. And, according to Dr. Melissa Stoppler, M.D., withdrawal from this powerful stimulant is similar to the symptoms felt when withdrawing from other addictive substances.
According to a 1992 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, caffeine withdrawal produces real symptoms, including headaches, anxiety, depression, low energy and fatigue.
According to experts John Hughes, M.D., and Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, although caffeine withdrawal can even produce flu-like symptoms, it is not dangerous. Here are a few steps to help you detox from coffee and caffeine in general.
Step 1: Familiarize yourself with everything that has caffeine in it
A successful total detox from caffeine needs to include detox from all products containing caffeine — not just your basic cup o’ joe. Coffee, some teas, certain pain relievers, many soft drinks, cold remedies and some prescription drugs contain caffeine.
Step 2: Prepare for withdrawal
Withdrawal symptoms from a caffeine detoxification include being irritable, fatigued and restless, and having muscle stiffness, difficulty concentrating and chills and/or hot spells. According to Hughes and Griffiths, the severity of the symptoms you have when you go through withdrawal may be affected by how much caffeine you’ve been regularly ingesting.
Step 3: Detox slowly
To minimize the severity of withdrawal symptoms, Hughes and Griffiths recommend a slow caffeine detox rather than quitting cold turkey. Decide on when you will be completely caffeine-free, set up a timeline, and gradually replace coffee and other caffeinated products with caffeine-free selections.
Step 4: Treat the withdrawal symptoms
Combat fatigue with plenty of rest each night. When choosing a headache pain reliever, remember that Excedrin and some aspirins have caffeine in them, so ibuprofen and water may be your best bet, as they do not contain any. In your quest for a caffeine detox, read the labels carefully.
Step 5: Drink lots of water
When you were drinking lots of coffee or tea, even though they are considered diuretics, you were still getting some fluids into your body. When you stop drinking these caffeinated beverages, you will need to hydrate yourself another way. Mayo Clinic recommends drinking at least eight 8-oz. glasses of water per day to maintain the proper levels of hydration. Staying hydrated may reduce the fatigue and headache associated with caffeine withdrawal, as fatigue and headache are also symptoms of dehydration.