What is caffeine?

Caffeine is a psychoactive drug which stimulates the central nervous system. Unlike other psychoactive drugs, consumption of caffeine in various forms are both unregulated and not illegal in all the countries. Caffeine is present in many seeds, nuts and leaves from a variety of plants. Caffeine has its original source from South America and East Asia. Even though caffeine is available in a number of plants, coffee bean is the most popular source. The other important sources are tea and cola. Beverages prepared from coffee bean, tea and cola are consumed by all ages of people world over.

Impact of caffeine on health

Consumption of beverages containing caffeine is found to generate both positive and negative impacts on humans. However the consumption is generally considered safe, if restricted within the prescribed levels.

Caffeine has the potential to cause drug dependence. The level of dependence liability is clinically found to be physically low to moderate and psychologically low. The addiction liability is considered low or even none.

Administration methods of caffeine are oral, enema, rectal, intravenous and insufflation.

Intake of beverages containing caffeine on a regular basis, leads to increase in the level of caffeine tolerance and eventually dependence. Such dependence on caffeine over a period of time ends up with addiction. Addiction is not a symptom by itself and it is the withdrawal symptoms that leads to the conclusion that a person is in addiction.

Withdrawal symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms are headaches, muscle pain, nausea, lethargy, stiffness and depression of the mood. While a daily intake of about 400 mg. of caffeine per day is considered safe, even 100 mg. of caffeine consumption leads to physical dependence or addiction.

It is observed only from the withdrawal symptoms noticed, that a person is addicted to caffeine. Being a natural stimulant, caffeine constricts the blood vessels in the brain. Hence where caffeine intake is withdrawn suddenly, the blood vessels tend to swell and cause head ache or even migraine. Since pain relievers also contain a small and balanced amount of caffeine, the relief provided by them is only temporary. More than that, pain relievers may cause side effects that are more harmful. Since the negatives outweigh the positives, it is better to treat the symptoms of withdrawal and prevent addiction altogether.

Natural remedies for reducing caffeine addiction

Different methods of treatments can relieve a person from addiction. Some such methods can be application of natural remedies.

Withdrawal of caffeine containing substances or beverages must be gradual spreading to over a period of weeks to ensure that the withdrawal symptoms are mild and bearable not prompting reversal of withdrawal. Conscious decrease of caffeine intake per day is the most appropriate method to prevent withdrawal symptoms. One can reduce the quantity of intake each time, restrict the number of times consumed or can substitute intake of beverages containing caffeine with other drinks like green tea  which contain much lower caffeine content.

Natural supplements

Ginseng or ginseng supplements consumption can be considered as it prevents the shocker to swollen blood vessels due to reduced caffeine intake. However ginseng is not a good remedy as it expands the blood vessel increasing the blood pressure.

Magnesium supplements are known to provide instant relief from withdrawal symptoms as caffeine depletes the magnesium level in the body. But to absorb the magnesium supplement, adequate intake of calcium is necessary. Hence both magnesium and calcium supplements are taken together for relief from withdrawal symptoms.

Ginseng root

Breathing through right nostril

Breathing through the right nostril by closing the left, increases oxygen level in the body. Consequently the blood pressure and blood glucose level are increased, and the stimulant effect of such increase fulfils the stimulant function of caffeine and prevent recurrence of the withdrawal symptoms. It must be noted that people with high BP levels should not attempt the right nostril breathing as it increases blood pressure.

Herbs

Some homeopathic herbs like Byronia Alba are available in relieving the withdrawal symptoms. Byronia Alba is a root from the plant which is compressed into tablets or in solution forms and administered. Since the plant is poisonous, dosage of medicines prepared from it must be carefully determined based on withdrawal symptoms like, extreme thirst, irritability, difficulty in moving the muscles and pain in the head and neck due to eye movements.

Vegetables and juices

vegetable juices

Intake of beverages containing caffeine reduces the pH level in the body causing headaches and other symptoms. Such reduction in pH (alkaline) level is called acidosis which lead to other health problems that are more serious.  Hence increasing the pH level to the required level is important. This can be done by consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar diluted in water.

Drinking water

Symptoms like headache, nausea and fatigue are avoided by consuming non- caffeine beverages in plenty, more particularly large amount of water.  Such water consumption keep the body well hydrated and remove toxins from the body. Symptoms of withdrawal are mainly due to release of accumulated caffeine from the liver and other tissues to maintain equilibrium. Removal of toxins by water and non-caffeine beverages prevents the symptoms due to withdrawal.

Yoga

Practicing of yoga is an excellent remedy as it relaxes the muscle and cures the muscle pain and relieves headaches and fatigue. Yoga practice rejuvenates the body by removing stress. To get rid of addiction, you can practice restorative yoga. Follow simple yoga practices depending upon your fitness level.

Ramya Srinivasan, PDGBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. As a result of her passion in native medicine, she got her Diploma in Traditional Siddha Medicine from Bharat Sevak Samaj registered under the Indian Planning Commission. She is certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.