Welcome to the fourth installment of things I’ve been talking about in the clinic – this month – giving up coffee!
The biggest thing on my mind this month was my decision to give up on coffee! Coffee has been a personal and close friend for nearly 30 years and although I’ve had periods of less caffeine consumption, or drinking larger amounts, I’ve never given it up!
I’m going to outline a successful strategy to help anyone else who wants to give up coffee and I’ll share some of my rookie errors.
The reason for this falling out is not for any health concerns, as there’s more evidence for it being good for most people than negative. The thing is, I no longer enjoy the experience of drinking coffee as I once used to and it’s no longer working as advertised. The main problem I have is I’m needing more and more coffee to feel a normal amount of energy. Now it turns out that this could be either desensitisation in my brain or my genes or a combination of both.
My rookie error was not doing any research on what to expect besides a headache. I was expecting one, but holy moly was it a cracker and the worst part is that it was totally avoidable. The headache was unpleasant, that included a fair amount of nausea and sharp pain. It started after just cutting down 50% of the coffee I was drinking. Then it got worse, not the headache but the rest of the symptoms. I was forgetful, grumpy and kept losing my train of thought during conversations. It was a shocking week.
Researched ensued as there was no way I was going to be able to function with giving up those final coffees.
It turns out that coffee effects dopamine, like many addictive substances. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and plays important roles in executive functions, motor control, motivation, arousal, reinforcement and reward, as well as lower-level functions including lactation, sexual gratification and nausea.
Caffeine increases dopamine production. Dopamine is made from L-Dopa, which is made from Tyrosine, which is made from Phenylalanine. Extended use of caffeine uses up your stores of Tyrosine and Phenylalanine and then to balance everything out, the brain backpedals and reduces dopamine production. Then you start craving that next coffee to increase dopamine production and the cycle continues leading to coffee addiction.
The cure to breaking this cycle is very simple and works amazingly well at getting rid of symptoms. Taking either of the amino acids L-Phenylalanine or Tyrosine gets you back to normal in days.
Tyrosine is easy to get at most health food stores in Australia, so I ran around the corner and grabbed some. I took a 1000mg that lunch time and an hour later I felt normal! It was a miracle! So the next day I stopped my coffee drinking completely and took 1000mg twice a day for two days, then 500mg twice a day for 2 days, then 500mg once a day for 2 days and then nothing……. And no symptoms. I was a little more tired than normal for a few days and now I’m back to normal.
I wish I’d known what to do before I’d cut back in the first week! Hopefully this helps any of you who’d like to give it a go.
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