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Quitting Coffee Again

I've done it enough times that I sort of enjoy the cycle. Normally I start drinking coffee during final exams, because I find it does help me study with more energy and focus. And after finals, generally I wean off it. This summer I kept drinking coffee because I knew I'd be visiting Suzanne and many other friends who are regular, daily, lifelong coffee drinkers. I get it, I really enjoy coffee. I love the smell, the warmth and earthiness, the bitterness and richness. It rivals chocolate as a sensory experience.

Coffee also motivates my bowels, and causes reliable diuresis. It irritates my bladder, sending me to the restroom more frequently than normal. It kills my appetite for the entire morning. If I drink too much, it upsets my stomach and gives me the off-the-wall jitters, anxiety, tachycardia and tremor. Coffee is a powerful drug. It squeezes my adrenals for a goodly burst of cortisol, and if I use it to activate when I am tired, it will leave me exhausted. That is why I stop it from time to time. To let my body find its own rhythm without the strong drug, to let my adrenals rebuild. I'm not a tee totaller by nature. I think that we should be able to experiment with most of the substances available to us without permanent harm, provided that our use is not constant or extreme. There are a few substances that I have never tried, because I know too much about their dangers. We each make our choices about where we won't go.

I had been off coffee for many years when I found out that my iron levels were high. I started drinking it again because it interferes with iron absorption in the gut. Everything has its uses.

Stopping coffee drinking is not so hard for me. Yes, I enjoy it, but I am not dependent. If I were to stop cold turkey, without tapering down, I'd have a terrible afternoon and evening headache on day 1, and lesser headaches on days 2 and 3. With tapering I have no such issues. Usually I mix decaf into my grounds in increasing fractions, but this time I just started diluting the coffee more and more, less brew more water each time. The point comes when the coffee doesn't taste good to me--I like it strong--and then I switch to black tea. I really like black tea too, and it helps me use up the last of the organic half and half. Then from black tea to yerba mate or green tea.

I love green tea. It makes me feel so good. From it I can transition to caffeine free herbal teas and have no caffeine withdrawal symptoms. I esp like warm earthy drinks on winter mornings, so I came up an herbal mix that replaces coffee. I enjoy all these beverages so much that it is not that hard to give up coffee---I get to have other wonderful things! People can be so habitual but I'm one of those who thrives on variety.

Yerba Mate is a long term favorite of mine. It is a South American beverage that contains some xanthines (caffeine is one), and has a warm earthy flavor. I blend it with roasted dandelion root and licorice tincture for my most standard beverage. A little chicory is good too, and sometimes I'll mix in other alteratives/bitters and balance the bitterness with honey and licorice. I used to drink mate every day but then I read a study about long term users developing liver cancer, and I decided that I must cycle away from mate as well. Everything in its season, moderation in all things; this trite wisdom is still true.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 1st, 2010 12:44 am (UTC)
This reminds me of maybe another part of the reason I've been feeling ill lately...I'm not drinking coffee nearly as much (actually not at all so far) in my abstinence from COE and before I was up to drinking coffee on average every day. I've been wanting to avoid caffeine as I think it worsens my anxiety and IBS issues...I have switched to herbal teas as well! Yum!
Sep. 1st, 2010 01:01 am (UTC)
Withdrawals from coffee shouldn't last more than about 3 days.....
Sep. 1st, 2010 01:11 am (UTC)
oh good to know, well then that's probably not adding to my distress now!
Sep. 1st, 2010 12:52 am (UTC)
I wonder how much coffee it takes to be addicted to the caffeine? I drink one cup of coffee a day, and usually one cup of tea, both in the morning. I had none today because of my illness and I don't have a caffeine headache. I'm surprised.
Sep. 1st, 2010 01:03 am (UTC)
At one cup a day you may not have withdrawal symptoms when you stop. And one of the best ways to reduce symptoms (of just about anything) is to fast. Nothing like a totally empty gut to clear your head. =-]
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )



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