For Starters - Fatigue, Irritability, and Anxiety

Do you cherish a pot of coffee? Do you punctuate your day with a soda, which combines a sugar blast with a caffeine fix? You are not alone, and you may have discovered that caffeine shoots your blood sugar up like a rocket, giving you a temporary blast of energy. It is not unusual to find clients recovering from chemical addictions caught in this cycle.


What Caffeine Does To Your Body

Caffeine stimulates your adrenal glands to release adrenaline into the bloodstream. Never mind that your real level of energy is nil. Repeatedly doing this to your adrenals is akin to beating a dying horse. Adrenaline circulating your bloodstream makes you irritable, anxious, shaky, and restless. Your heart may pound, and you may even have panic attacks. Over time quick surges of energy fade to nothing more than short respites from ongoing fatigue. All stimulants, not just caffeine, take the adrenal glands for a ride and leave you in the dust. The way to get back on your feet again is to give up the caffeine along with the other stimulants. In time, as your adrenals start to build back up, the joy of living without ongoing fatigue and dis-stress will return.


How Caffeine Messes With You

Technically speaking, caffeine blocks receptors in the brain for a chemical called adenosine, which blocks the release of the motivating neurotransmitters dopamine and adrenaline. In other words, adenosine puts the brakes on dopamine and adrenaline so they don’t go too high. But when you block adenosine receptors with caffeine, you “disable the brakes” allowing these powerful motivating neurotransmitters reach levels that really get the brain jumping. You feel more alert and motivated to get something done, (at least in the early stages you’ll feel like that). After awhile the brain and body become insensitive to their own natural stimulants (dopamine and adrenaline), so just to feel normal you’ll need more stimulants. More and more caffeine is needed to push the body to produce more dopamine and adrenaline. The end result is adrenal exhaustion and an impaired inability to produce these important chemicals of motivation and communication. Apathy, depression, exhaust and the inability to cope.


Irritability and Anxiety

Adrenaline is a stress hormone; when it is released your body goes into stress mode along with irritability, anxiousness, being shaky, and also restlessness.

Joan Mathews Larson Ph.D. wrote this case study about a client and caffeine,

Neal, a young carpenter, told me that no woman cared to date him for long because of his wild bursts of temper and mood swings. He was drinking a six-pack of Mountain Dew on the job every day, and needed a pot of coffee every morning “to get going.” After I convinced Neal to give up his caffeine ‘fix’ and to follow a sugar free diet his disposition slowly mellowed, and his tremors and snappishness disappeared. No longer “wired,” he has finally been able to sustain a caring relationship, and his life has turned around.

Ingesting caffeine regularly alters how your body functions. It changes your mood and influences how you function on a daily basis. 


How to Reduce Your Caffeine Intake

While coffee and sodas may seem innocent, the caffeine they contain is not. Caffeine is a very addictive drug and does have side effects when you try to quit using it.

If you are drinking several cups of coffee or caffeinated colas daily, don’t try to stop cold turkey, or you will go into withdrawal from this addictive drug. You will get a powerful headache, and feel listless and jumpy for days. The better approach is to cut your intake over a week’s time. Trade caffeinated beverages for herbal teas, or just drink sparkling water with lime or lemon.

Your reward for dumping caffeine will be evident in your increased energy levels and reduced sugar cravings.