of us depend on an early morning "Jo" to get us on the go. Some of us need
refills as the day progresses.
Still others use coffee to get over
depression or anxiety, even though caffeine can create more fight or flight
hormones and tax our adrenal glands by pumping us with adrenaline. The
adrenaline rushes lead to more retention of cortisol, leading to a vicious cycle
of more stress and anxiety.
Many of us may have to look into our coffee
drinking habits to determine whether to decrease consumption or quit altogether,
even with the threat of withdrawal symptoms.
Although caffeine is in some
foods and beverages, for example chocolate and tea, the bulk of our caffeine
consumption is carried by coffee.
The first thing to consider is whether
you can do without. If not, there is some level of addiction. There is a way to
ease caffeine withdrawal mentioned later in this article.
How coffee elevates our moods and gets us going
Caffeine is a naturally
occurring chemical stimulant called trimethylxanthine. It can be addictive and
debilitating as well as helpful, as both Bach and Beethoven, heavy coffee
drinkers, would attest. Caffeine stimulates the brain to produce the
neurotransmitter dopamine by occupying the brain's adenosine
receptors. Adenosine is what helps us feel like sleeping, but the adenosine
receptors don't discriminate between adenosine and caffeine.
elevates our moods to make us feel better and stave off depression, which is why
there is so much coffee consumption in areas that lack sunshine for extended
periods, such as the USA Pacific Northwest and Scandinavia. Dopamine also helps
create motivation and contributes toward conscious body motion.
research even points to coffee drinkers having fewer problems with depression
and Alzheimer's disease than non-coffee drinkers. While feeling better from the
dopamine, the caffeine also increases the brain's activity and neuron
This alerts the pituitary gland to release hormones that signal
the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline (aka epinephrine) for "fight or
flight." The adrenaline rush makes you more alert.
are sometimes administered to help overcome extreme breathing problems or
cardiac issues. Caffeine can help get over an asthma attack by elevating one's
mood, increasing heart rate, and dilating bronchial passages.
Coffee's adverse effects and kicking the habit
as the adrenaline
wears off toward a crash, cortisol slowly builds up. If this cycle is repeated
often enough, the cortisol builds up and creates the same effects as chronic
stress: Fatigue, anxiety, nervousness, irritability, and lowered immunity. A
recipe for disaster is working a stressful job and drinking lots of coffee to
cope with it! Adrenaline rushes can be addictive, just ask any gambler or sports
But it appears dopamine's mood elevation may be the hook that makes
it hard to kick caffeine and remove the adrenal stress that causes long term
negative health effects.
Sometimes the caffeine from drinking coffee
habitually can cause gluten intolerance or Celiac disease. Caffeine is a cross
reactive substance, meaning it can create gluten intolerance even though it
doesn't contain wheat. Ironically, wheat products usually accompany that cup of
Many experts consider the caffeine cure for dopamine deficiency the
most addictive quality of coffee drinking. Getting off caffeine slowly or
cold-turkey can create withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability, mild
depression, and mental fogginess.
Nutritional consultant and author of
The Body Ecology Diet, Donna Gates, recommends a naturally sourced
non-essential amino acid supplement L-Tyrosine to help you kick the
caffeine habit effortlessly. It is a natural precursor to the brain's dopamine
production and it helps people be alert.