The Caffeine Conundrum

A few years ago, my doctor advised me to cut out the caffeine, as it was almost certainly a contributing factor to my general anxiety and insomnia. I immediately quit cold turkey–not one of my brightest moves, since I was rewarded with one of the worst migraine headaches I’ve ever had. Since then, I’ve cut down on the amount of coffee, tea and soda pop I drink. Even still, sometimes I drink more than other times, and I rarely get through a day without drinking some caffeinated beverage.

But I’m starting to think I’m still drinking too much. I had one 16 ounce mocha this morning and about an hour afterwards, I started feeling really shaky and on the verge of a generalized panic attack. I love coffee and tea, but I’d be happy to switch to decaf or otherwise get my caffeine intake down to nothing. But since I’m prone to migraine headaches, which can often be dealt with (or prevented) by caffeine, I’m not sure I should be cutting it out entirely. This has become a weird balancing act, a study in the alchemy of caffeine and brain chemistry.

The experiment continues…


8 thoughts on “The Caffeine Conundrum

  1. You mention a mocha, which to me connotes a high amount of sugar. Do you typically have sugar/sweetener with your java? If so, I would try cutting out all unprocessed sugar first (especially soda). I did that about a year ago and felt much better within about a week, not to mention losing about 8 pounds immediately.

    I still drink a crap-tonne of coffee, tho. I just don’t add sweetener or creamer.

  2. Oh, that’s a good point! I used to add sugar to my coffee, but now I add honey. I don’t much care for unsweetened coffee. But not ordering mochas or other coffee drinks loaded with sweetener is a really good idea. As is cutting down on soda pop.

  3. Caffeine is an anti-inflammatory alkaloid. That’s why a quick dose of strong coffee or tea is an old (and effective) remedy for an asthma attack. That’s why the relationship between headaches (including migraines) and caffeine. The problem is that caffeine has other serious effects (as you already know), including causing accelerated pulse and anxiety.

  4. Yeah, still trying to find that right balance.

  5. Addendum. Ginger root is also an anti-inflammatory.

  6. By this logic, if we have two hands and one head, we should use our hands twice as much as we use our heads. When I’ve applied this logic, I’ve gotten into a lot of trouble. I noticed this morning that I have ten toes, but only one nose…..

  7. This was a comment on two ears one mouth. It ended up in the wrong place.

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