Coffee and Caffeine Detox Update

The month is almost half over, so I thought I’d provide a quick update on My Caffeine Detox Plan. My last coffee was on September 30th. Then for a week, I continued to drink some tea. On Sunday, October 7th at Noon, I stopped consuming all tea. I’ve been 100% caffeine free since then.

First the good news. My current coffee free streak is a new all-time record, beating my 11-day streak from last year. And this year I didn’t cheat with decaf coffee. Also, my 1 week without caffeine is a new all-time record, crushing my 100-hour streak from 1997. I think I’m going to succeed in my goal of going the entire month without coffee. I’m less confident that I’ll make the 15 days without caffeine goal.

The first day I had a slight headache. Since then my head has been fine, but my mood has been terrible. My sleep is awful. I keep waking up early and unable to get back to sleep. This morning I woke up at 3:30 AM. The result is I’m dead tired all day long. I’m having difficulty concentrating. It doesn’t help that the weather in Seattle went from a long streak of sunny days to darkness and rain.

I thought this detox would get easier by day 4 or 5. It hasn’t. My productivity has plummeted. The mornings are the worst. I’m going to power through today, but I don’t know if I’ll make it 15 days. This experiment is crushing me.

Someone mentioned a concept to me called a “healing crisis“. The premise is that symptoms get worse when you first remove something your body perceives as harmful. I did some searching and found the article What is a Healing Crisis? by Dr. Stanley Bass on a site selling water ionizers. 😕 I’m at the point in my study of nutrition that I don’t believe anybody anymore. With that said, something feels right about that article. Either that or I’m so tired that I can’t determine what is credible and what isn’t.

This experiment has already taught me that my addiction to caffeine is much stronger than my addiction to coffee.

I’m actually craving green tea more than coffee. 


Add yours

  1. Remind me again why you’re doing this? to help with headaches? Coffee and caffeine are beneficial/positive (net good over bad), so I always wonder when I hear someone trying to break their coffee habit.

  2. @David – Yes, part of of this experiment is to see if there is a headache correlation.

  3. I think you should go ahead an have some green tea. I believe in listening to my body to a certain point. It usually tells me what I need. If you only drink green tea, then you may be able, at some point, to go caffeine free, or you may decide that’s not what you want. The decision to go totally caffeine free at this point in time was arbitrary, maybe it’s not the best thing.

  4. A lot of the things I have read about detox in general always warn of the “crisis” you will go through and how sick it can make you feel as the toxins are leaving your body, but that it will pass and you start seeing the positive benefits. Many recommend doing it during a period of time when off work because of the symptoms you get as your body goes through this change. Maybe you have hit this point?

  5. Wow. I’m surprised that you are still having problems. I thought healing crises usually lasted only a few days. But don’t stop now! If you can get through 30 days, you’ll have solid data and you’ll feel better for making it all the way through. (Note: I am trying and failing at eating better right now myself, but I’ve got so many other problems right now that I’m going to give myself a break and go at it later when I’m not so overwhelmed.)

    @David, I don’t know about the net positive. Coffee has always been too strong for me, and I really do do better when I stay completely away from caffeine/chocolate/other stimulants. I think it depends *a lot* on the individual.

  6. I am also surprised you are still having issues. I have read it can take a week to ten days in extreme cases, but this makes you some kind of outlier.

    You actually inspired me to try the same for experimental purposes. I planned to go cold turkey abruptly (I am stubborn) but ended up doing a 1 day taper because of strong headache.

    But now I am 14 days caffeine free. Day 4 felt much like Day 14. I realize this is highly individual and I was a light user. I also went cold turkey a couple of years ago when I had higher intake, then I had headaches for 3 days, and lethargy for about a week.

    The only benefit I notice off it, is I wake easier in the morning feeling more alert initially.

    But I do miss coffee. It is nice to have a hot drink in the morning.

    It only occurred to me recently, but I started taking BP readings in the morning, to compare with when I re-introduce coffee.

    I wonder is there anything else to objectively self test? For on/off caffeine.

    You have gone this far. Don’t crack now. The worse really should be behind you in terms of withdrawal.

  7. For me I have gone back onto coffee and find it fixes something but also undoes other things. I get the lift but am very crabby later in the day and my sleep is disturbed. So even cutting it back to one every alternate day or 2 daily every 2 days, it still upsets something for me. So cutting it out has been very useful in finding it doesn’t agree with me. How I feel about that is another matter. I think my brain may just be very sensitive to caffeine (i drink mostly espresso shots). If you have it regularly the negatives are masked as your body adjusts (in my case) but because I have stopped having it regularly I get this clear re-action to it in my system. So I am going to try cutting it out altogether and see if I can have it occasionally as a treat. I understand where you are coming from and know personally how very difficult the addiction is. For all the pros/cons its very hard to abstain totally. But it wires me up in a way I don’t like, so the verdict is still out for me.

  8. Oh and I didn’t go totally cold turkey on caffeine (I gave up coffee and tea) but I used chocolate every day to help provide some lift through the worst and that helped with mood.

  9. MAS,
    An interesting experiment. I’ve given up coffee and caffeine for 6-months on two separate occasions, and I otherwise typically drink about four cups a day.

    The first time I did it , I experienced symptoms similar to yours. The last time I did it, I gave up coffee immediately, but did a taper on the caffeine by using Penguin caffeinated mints. Each mint has the equivalent of 1/3 of a cola, so it makes it easy to gradually taper down over a week or two in a somewhat precise manner, ending at one mint a day (1/3 a cola) before quitting. They do include an artificial sweetener though.
    Happy data collecting!!

  10. Also, with the above, I would have a cup of beef broth (inspired by you) as my morning hot drink.

  11. @All – I made it through the weekend and the streak is still alive. I’m still having sleep issues, but morning mood isn’t as awful. Still craving caffeine, just not as much as before.

  12. Ah, you are brave! I have given up coffee in the past but have always substituted it with either green tea or Guayaki Yerba Mate. I have accepted the fact that I am a caffeine addict; my brain simply doesn’t function well without some sort of stimulant and I am not willing to become a couch potato. Besides, there is something about the cold, dark, wet, Washington climate that dictates that we have caffeinated drinks to keep from going into hibernation. So I have gone back to drinking coffee…

    I’m sure there are many causes for headaches. A good naturopath or alternative medicine MD can help sort out what may be causing them.

    I used to get headaches from food allergies. Most of the food allergies were delayed IgG allergies, something that isn’t tested for by traditional allergy doctors (they check for immediate food allergies IgE). When you have a delayed food allergy it is difficult to determine what is causing your symptoms because it can take 1-4 days to get a reaction. The quickest way to test for food allergies is with a blood test. My doctor used this lab (although there are others): But you could also try the Elimination Diet if you haven’t already done so. Here’s some info on the Elimination Diet:

    I don’t mean to sound like a know it all, but I was sick for a very long time and tried just about every diet, herb, supplement, cleanse, and treatment out there. Some things I’m sure were outright quackery, but others I found to be very helpful. After many years of suffering and parading around from doctor to doctor, I found that gluten/gliadin was one of the biggest culprits.

    One of the best cleanses I have done is the Master Cleanse (aka Lemonade Diet). It’s very alkalizing and it gives your body a rest from digestion and the assault from any allergens (unless you are allergic to citrus). Because you can start to detox quickly on it, it is very important to drink the laxative tea at night and either the salt flush in the morning or another cup of the laxative tea. Getting the toxins out of your body quickly helps abate any ill feelings (“healing crisis”). Here is a link to the cleanse: I mix up a quart at a time and always seem to need 4 quarts a day.

    I should also mention that the first time I gave up drinking coffee, I switched to organic green tea. I would drink a pot a day… That was until I read that the tea tree is like a magnet for fluoride and that tea leaves contain fluoride. Then I switched to Yerba Mate tea. Too much fluoride can have negative effects on the body like “Crippling Skeletal Fluorosis (CSF)” and mottled teeth. I also met a chemist who told me that it was one of the most toxic things on the earth… Well, I still drink organic green tea from time to time (all things in moderation right?). While the following link says that “fluorides accumulate in the body”, I think it was Dr. Mercola who said that they are halogens and that they do dissipate.

  13. Good luck, you sound like you are well on your way! The first week is the hardest, my partner regularly goes off coffee every six months or so. I don’t know how he does it but he has done it a few times and just knows it will be a hammering for a week or so and then things improve a lot, his mood is more even and he sleeps better. He has been off coffee for a month or so now.

  14. @Kat – I have read the green tea fluoride stuff on both sides and am not concerned. The alarmists failed to make their case. Getting a shower filter seems to be the number one way to reduce fluoride exposure.

    I wonder if I could try the Master Cleanse with molasses instead of maple syrup? I don’t think I need a cleanse, but I am willing to experiment.

  15. @MAS – They don’t put fluoride in the city water where I live so that’s not a problem. But they do put chlorine in the water so I use a shower filter to help remove that.

    I like to do a 10 day cleanse 2 – 4 times a year whether I feel healthy or not. Because you are getting calories, vitamins, & minerals from the lemonade it’s not a true fast, but it does give your body a rest from constantly having to digest food, and it gives your body a chance to do a little house cleaning. Nowadays we are all exposed to various pollutants.

    I always feel really good and energetic while on a cleanse and it helps me shed any excess weight I may have gained. The only thing is that it is hard for me to do the cleanse during cold weather because it’s hard for me to retain body heat.

    I don’t see any reference to molasses being used as a substitute in Stanley Burroughs “The Master Cleanser” booklet, but I heard that it has been used. On some websites it is recommended for diabetics to use instead of the maple syrup. If you try molasses, it should be blackstrap molasses from sugar cane (not GMO sugar beets). I tried using blackstrap molasses ONCE and it tasted so bad I never tried it again.

    Stanley does list “freshly extracted juice from the sugar cane (or pure sorghum but with less benefits than pure maple syrup. Good luck finding those…

    If money is tight, realize that you will be eating nothing other than lemon or lime juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper for 10 days. Then you will switch to oranges for a couple of days, then salad or the special soup. I order my Grade B maple syrup from Miller’s Purely Maple in Pennsylvania. It’s $40.00 a gallon, but with shipping it’s probably closer to $50.00.

    So with the cost of the lemons or limes (limes are generally cheaper & especially when I get them from my fruit stand, otherwise I buy the 5 lb bags from Costco), maple syrup, cayenne, and laxative tea, and some oranges, the cost is around $80.00 for 12+ days. I don’t think that’s too bad considering you won’t be paying for other food during that time.

    You can use Grade A maple syrup (like from Costco), but it doesn’t have as many minerals. I wouldn’t do more than a 10 day cleanse with the Grade A though. Also, you are going to pay as much as more for the Grade A as you would by ordering Grade B direct from the farm.

  16. @Kat –
    “ will be eating nothing other than lemon or lime juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper for 10 days. Then you will switch to oranges for a couple of days, then salad or the special soup.”

    Thanks for the details., but I require A LOT OF CALORIES. There is no way I could do anything even close to this, so I am going to pass. Plus I loathe oranges.

  17. Well suit yourself. I’m sure there is something else you could transition into besides oranges if you wanted to. But some people just can’t handle the idea of going without food and think that they will collapse or die without it for a few days.

    The person who told me about the Master Cleanse is very athletic. He works out with weights regularly, walks at least 10 miles a day, and continues to do these things while on the Master Cleanse. One of his cleanses that lasted over 20 days, and on the last day he walked about 50 miles. He said he felt very energetic and the walk was almost effortless.

    I can also attest to the fact that I don’t feel like I was starving to death and that I have had a lot more energy while on a cleanse. Since you aren’t spending energy digesting food, it is available for other things. If I got hungry, I just had more lemonade.

    But the cleanse can be an inconvenience, especially for someone who works, because drinking so much fluid requires frequent trips to the bathroom.

    Anyhow, I’m not going to try to convince anyone who isn’t open to the idea of a cleanse.

  18. My friend, the reason you must to kick this addiction is precisely that you feel like sht.

  19. @Txomin – I’ve learned a lot this month. Even though I will hit my goal of 15 days caffeine free in 5 hours, I plan to extend the caffeine test longer. Thanks.

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