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Caffeine Detox Facts & Tips: How to Quit the Easy Way

person avoiding coffee

Caffeine is a sneaky substance that’s naturally found in plants and artificially in sodas and certain processed foods. While coffee, tea, and energy drinks may be the main sources of human consumption, you might not realize it could also be in other foods and drinks you regularly ingest. When used wisely, naturally derived caffeine such as the kind found in coffee and tea can increase concentration levels and may bring health benefits such as lower risk of type 2 diabetes.1

However, there are definitely negative consequences for drinking too much of any caffeinated beverage. If you find yourself getting the jitters and are wondering if you should cut back, keep reading to find out how to gradually wean off and avoid the dreaded caffeine withdrawal.

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Signs You Might Benefit from a Caffeine Detox

Our bodies can change how they process food and drink. Just as food allergies and sensitivities can develop anytime, you can suddenly become intolerant to caffeine. This can be temporary or permanent but often results from overuse. You might need to go on a caffeine strike if you notice:

  • Anxiety. You don’t feel well and there’s no apparent reason why. You may feel nervous, or experience tingling in your hands or feet. Conversely, if you have anxiety caffeine can worsen its effects.
  • Jittery. You can’t sit still. That cup that was supposed to help you concentrate is sending you reeling around your desk.
  • Insomnia. You can’t sleep, or your sleep is consistently interrupted by an hour or more of wakefulness.
  • Racing or skipping heartbeat. Your heart feels out of rhythm, and you don’t have any underlying disorders such as high blood pressure.
  • GI upset. Your stomach isn’t handling itself very well and you regularly suffer from heartburn, indigestion, or diarrhea.

*Please note that all of these things can be symptoms of more serious conditions than caffeine dependency. See your doctor if you notice other symptoms along with these, or if they do not go away within two weeks after your detox.

person withdrawing from caffeine
Image Credit: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock

How to Detox from Caffeine

You should cut back from caffeine very gradually. Otherwise, you might shock your system, leading it into withdrawal. The notorious caffeine withdrawal is why many reluctant coffee drinkers don’t want to give up the habit. It can give you grouchy moods, sluggishness, and throbbing headaches for nearly a week, and the more dependent you are, the worse your affliction will be.

Scaling back gradually should provide some relief from your caffeine dependency immediately while not sending you through bouts of withdrawal. For example, if you drink four cups of coffee every day, go down to three. Wait a few days and then cut back to two, and so on. Start replacing your caffeinated beverages with water, or find another healthy, caffeine-free drink.

If coffee is your craving, try to find a water-processed decaf. Conventional decaf coffee uses a chemical wash to separate the caffeine from the beans and may not be the wisest choice in the long term. Keep in mind that decaf coffee or tea doesn’t mean caffeine-free. A residual amount usually remains, so this is something to remember if you’re eventually going cold turkey.

Replacing caffeinated (or even decaf) tea with an herbal tea is a good choice. Herbal teas aren’t made from the leaves of the tea plant and are typically caffeine-free.

herbal tea
Image Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay

How Long Should I Detox?

The question you’re probably wanting to know before you commit to a detox is how long it’ll last? The answer varies, but largely depends on how much caffeine you were consuming. Any withdrawal or detox symptoms should be gone within a couple weeks.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t crave your abandoned drink. That’s why it’s a good idea to find a replacement that you’ll look forward to. It’s easier for your body to make the switch if you’re anticipating something better—such as a different kind of drink with no adverse caffeine reactions—than if you’re focusing on what you’re missing out on.

If your caffeine intolerance was due to overuse, you might be able to resume a little caffeine after a couple weeks of cutting back or going totally without. However, if you choose to consume caffeine again, start slowly or you might send your body right back into shock and lose your progress.

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Provided you don’t rush the process, you should experience relief from caffeine dependency by gradually scaling back. Detoxing from caffeine, or even cutting back from an excessive amount, can help your body reset itself and may allow you to enjoy your favorite beverages again without negative consequences. If you do decide you’re done with caffeine once and for all, try to find replacement drinks to teach your body to crave something new so you’re less likely to indulge your old craving.

Featured Image Credit: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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