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Coffee might be the most popular drink in the entire world with over 400 billion cups consumed every single day, but if you are experiencing some of the woes of high caffeine intake, it might be time to quit coffee for good or at least cut back.
Whether or not you’re going to quit cold turkey or just limit drinking coffee, this guide will walk you through how to do it.
Don’t worry, we also address the dreaded caffeine withdrawal symptoms that can pop up along the way.
Like millions of other people, we’re a huge fan of coffee at Breakfast Criminals. It’s delicious, and can certainly help jump start a busy, action-packed day. However, knowing that there are functional herbs, adaptogenic mushrooms, and highly antioxidant teas along with other coffee substitutions that not only boost your health, but provide sustainable energy and optimum brain wave states without the crash that coffee can induce is something we want to offer as alternatives to all you coffee drinkers out there.
In this comprehensive guide, you’ll find reasons for enjoying your morning cup as well as sound substitutes and why you’d even want to look for one (or a few).
After reading this guide, you may be convinced to quit coffee altogether, but if you still want to enjoy the occasional cup, you certainly can!
Why a Cup of Joe is Still Awesome
Research from multiple institutions from Harvard to Johns Hopkins will tell you that the right amount of coffee won’t hurt you. Not only that, it contains high levels of antioxidants and other nutritive substances that reduce inflammation, lower your incidence of heart disease, and even fortifies your immune system. Coffee has also been proven to lower incidence of kidney disease and diabetes, ostensibly because it acts as a diuretic and can help purge toxins from your body.
Coffee can also reduce breakage in your DNA strands, reduce your risk of certain types of cancers, including colon cancer, and even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and other types of dementia.
Is It Good to Stop Drinking Coffee?
“When people ask me if I drink coffee, I say I don’t do hard drugs.” – Dr. Andrew Weil
After sharing a cup of ceremonial cacao with Dr. Weil and his team at his Tucson home, we got to sit down to discuss all things wellness, consciousness and entrepreneurship. As well as Dr. Weil’s thoughts on coffee.
When you drink just one cup of coffee a day, around 50 mg, you’re getting all of those great benefits with a small dose of caffeine. Here’s the rub though, start adding additional cups of coffee and you’re frying your adrenal glands, messing up your biorhythmic physiological patterns that controls sleep and stress, (along with cortisol and adrenal hormonal flows), and also creating a caffeine addiction.
There are also studies coming out that say the energy we get from caffeine is a bit false. Caffeine doesn’t really create sustainable energy, but borrows energy from our system to ramp it up right after we drink a cup of coffee, robbing us of energy later in the day, kind of like negative interest rates at a bank for a savings deposit. When we then “recover” from that energy boost and use of resources energetically, the withdrawal can cause an increase in theta waves, while decreasing alpha brainwaves. Once you stop using coffee, or you skip a day, anxiety and sleeplessness can set in. Caffeine can also reduce low frequency delta brainwaves in your sleep. Low frequency delta brainwaves are critical for deep restoration, healing, and detoxing in the brain and body.
Are You Experiencing Coffee Woes?
Watch this video to see what you can experience when you quit coffee: Joe Rogan Interview: What Michael Pollan Learned from Quitting Caffeine for 3 Months
Your body is affected by everything in its environment, and obviously the things you eat and drink, too. Stress, on its own, won’t hurt you, but too much of it, and substances that minimize your ability to handle stress in a healthy way can be harmful to your long term health. Anytime we experience a perceived stress, either physical or mental, our bodies go through a three-stage alarm response, evolved over millennia, and called the general adaptation syndrome (GAS):
- Alarm: The trigger that we feel in our gut, or obviously in several areas of our brains that something isn’t o.k. with our world.
- Resistance: This induces us to leave said stressor, and to sleep off our initial exhaustion from fighting or fleeing. Adaptogens help us stay in resistance to stress longer so that we’re not as exhausted by internal triggers, like freaking out when your to-do list gets too long, or bigger stressors like a divorce or death. Adaptogens help us sustain our energy even when we’re facing big challenges.
- Exhaustion: From an evolutionary standpoint, exhaustion is when our body tells us we need to sleep off (heal and repair) from our initial response to stress (fighting or fleeing).
Now, if we were all enlightened monks or sages, we would never react to any stress triggers, not even death or taxes, but most of us have varying levels of stress-handling skills, and they can get depleted over time when a lot is coming at us at once.
When you drink too much coffee for too long your adrenals are forced to overproduce hormones like cortisol and adrenal steroids, epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine. This causes adrenal fatigue. Signs you may be experiencing overtaxed adrenals are:
- Trouble sleeping soundly
- Brain fog
- Memory loss
- An afternoon energy “crash”
- Racing thoughts
- Achy joints
- Feeling antsy
- Inability to concentrate for extended periods
- Extreme cravings for sugar and carbs as your body seeks out a quick serotonin hit to combat your cortisol and adrenaline-induced fatigue
In brief, your body can no longer manage its hormonal systems which then impacts your neurological system, and then your parasympathetic nervous system, causing you to feel irritable, tired, hungry, dumb, and just plain worn out! Your G.A.S (general adaptation syndrome) is simply out of fuel.
While research suggests 1000 mg of caffeine daily can cause nervousness, jitteriness and other unwanted symptoms, everyone’s nervous system is different, and much lower quantities of caffeine can wreak havoc on your interdependent bodily systems. (A regular cup of brewed black coffee is around 70 to 107 mgs of caffeine depending on the type of beans used and how they are brewed). If you’re drinking several cups of coffee a day, you can see how the caffeine adds up quickly, and you can start to throw yourself out of equilibrium.
What’s more, coffee can be addictive so while you may start with just one cup, soon you’re drinking two, three or seven and not thinking anything about it, yet wondering why you feel worn down and agitated.
The 7 Very Best Coffee Alternatives
Now that you are aware of the benefits and drawbacks of continuing a coffee drinking habit, we suggest that you at least try to minimize your coffee intake and replace your morning ritual with something that won’t fry your system. Fortunately there are some really awesome substitutes. Some even taste like coffee, while others are a complete departure from your coffee ritual, but still just as enjoyable – offering sustainable energy, mental clarity, focus, added heart health, reduced depression and anxiety, and even some additional benefits that coffee alone just doesn’t provide.
Most of the coffee alternatives we list herein contain adaptogens. Adaptogens, for those of you reading this that want a deeper dive, are nature’s pharmaceutical answer to stress. Without putting a single “drug” in your body, plants that have been used for thousands of years to support human functioning to help support the endocrine system (that regulates all your hormones), your immune system, and your neuro-biology. They’re called adaptogens because they help you ADAPT to stress.
Take a look at what happens to your stress response with and without adaptogens:
As you can see from this chart, it’s kind of a no-brainer to stop stressing out your system with high levels of adrenal-frying caffeine, and to instead support your endocrine (hormonal) system with high-quality, performance enhancing adaptogens.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of adaptogenic herbs, but here are some common adaptogens:
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Named after the strength of a horse, used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, reduces stress impacts, calms anxiety, sustains energy
Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lingzhi)
Improves sleep, reduces anxiety and depression, increases immune response
American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
Calming, memory boosting, immune-fortifying, better reaction time
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris)
Increases physical and mental stamina
Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
Reverses stress related changes to neurotransmitters including dopamine and serotonin, improves sleep
Eluethero root (Eleutherococcus senticosus)
Increases memory and cognitive functioning
Jiaogulan (Gynostemma Pentaphyllum)
Known in Chinese medicine as the “immortality herb,” reduces stress and boosts immunity
Helps regulate cortisol levels and reduces inflammation caused by an overtaxed system
Cacao (Theobroma cacao)
Boosts “happy hormones” and endorphins, reduces anxiety and depression
While this isn’t a comprehensive list of adaptogens, it gives you a bird’s eye view of some of the health benefits they provide.
You can learn more about the power of adaptogens in this podcast interview with Sage Dammers, who said that “Taking adaptogens is like putting more money into your checking account.”
Now for your coffee substitutes that contain some of these incredible stress-busters:
It may look like mud, but MUDWTR is actually a coffee substitute named when the friends of the CEO, Shane Heath, started asking him what he was always drinking in a glass that looked like a bunch of dirty water after he returned from a trip to India. MUDWTR is not coffee at all, but Masala Chai tea based on an ancient tradition practiced throughout the country, plus a blend of potent adaptogens that can help with mental and physical performance, recovery and immunity, inflammation and mood.
MUDWTR has a grounding, chai-like flavor, it’s super easy to brew (just add hot water or milk of your choice), and like all of our recommendations on this list, has no added sweetener or flavors.
MUDWTR is a combination of 100% organic:
- Black tea – Full of polyphenols, antioxidant catechins that help prevent cancer and heart disease, and the natural stimulants guanine and xanthine.
- Ginger – An antioxidant-rich spice containing gingerol known to alleviate nausea, lower high insulin levels, and reduce menstrual pain caused by inflammation.
- Cardamom – A digestion-soothing spice that also helps reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure.
- Cacao – More flavor comes in the form of cacao, full of magnesium, potassium, and 40 times the antioxidant levels of blueberries.
- Cloves – A spice with one of the highest ranking antioxidants on the ORAC scale (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). For comparison, raw kidney beans rank at about 8459 on the ORAC scale, while 1 teaspoon of ground cloves ranks 314,446.
- Cinnamon – A commonly used spice with anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties. It also supports a healthy gut.
- Turmeric – The most active compound in turmeric is curcumin, with massive anti-inflammatory properties. It’s said that one of the reasons there are super low incidences of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in India is because turmeric spice is so commonly used.
- Himalayan Salt – This salt differs from regular table salt. Himalayan salt offers taste, and contains up to 84 trace minerals that your body needs.
- Lion’s Mane
MUDWTR contains about 14 mg of caffeine per cup, far less than the 95 mg in a normal cup of brewed coffee.
Purchase MUDWTR as a coffee substitute here.
A blend of 100 % organic, adaptogenic herbs, Rasa is the answer to its female founder’s inquiry into an herbal drink to replace her coffee ritual after going through enough stress-inducing events to last four lifetimes – including a death in her family, moving across the country, leaving a cult (yes, really), and having a baby.
Lopa van der Mersch (Rasa founder) just couldn’t put her adrenals under anymore duress so she partnered with an herbalist to come up with a coffee alternative that is both rich and delicious. Instead of hacking away at your internal energy, it amplifies it with the use of adaptogenic plants that support the entire body and help build what she calls “energy intelligence.”
Rasa can be a great substitute for coffee for pregnant or lactating women as well, due to its low caffeine and adaptogenic herbs that support both mom and baby (make sure you consult with your doctor first!). They have an immunity tonic, a joy tonic to support neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, an aphrodisiac sex tonic to help relax you and provide and open-hearted connection to your lover, and a restorative chill tonic to do just that – chill you the heck out! They also have the fixin’s for your cup with vegan coconut cream, a wildcrafted euphoria elixir (full of amazing adaptogens) and direct-trade vanilla.
Rasa contains a signature 12-herb blend as well as criollo cacao grown in the black soil of the Vilcabamba rainforest valley in Ecuador with only 5 mg of caffeine per 8 oz cup (that’s about 93 mg per ounce less than a normal cup of brewed coffee). All of Rasa’s ingredients are also sustainably, mindfully sourced, and the packaging is compostable.
Purchase Rasa sampler pack as a coffee substitute here.
3. Ceremonial Cacao
Cacao is said to have been originally discovered by the Olmecs in 1500 B.C. As a primary food in Mayan and Aztec cultures for centuries, cacao was used as a ritualistic and ceremonial plant and beverage.
If you’re familiar with cacao, and love a cup of the hot, smooth beverage, you may still not know about ceremonial cacao. It differs from many cacao powders and drinks you find, in that those have been highly processed and cooked at high temperature which destroy the health compounds within it. They also separate and minimize the cacao bean fat, which is a vital component that adds to its incredible health benefits.
Ancient cultures knew exactly how to prepare cacao so that all the benefits remained intact. Fortunately those practices have been passed forward, and some revere a cacao ceremony just as much as an Ayahuasca ceremony (don’t worry, unlike Ayahuasca, cacao is not psychoactive!). Because of its consciousness expanding qualities, ceremonial cacao is used in many ancient and modern cultures to induce calm, grounded, and playful brainwave state conducive to meditation or creativity.
Ceremonial-grade cacao is Criollo bean paste (a specific type of cacao bean) and while they contain a stimulating substance called theobromine, they contain a small amount of caffeine – depending on the brand, around 0.1% and 0.7% caffeine, whereas coffee beans contain approximately 1.2% caffeine. Ceremonial cacao is rich in theobromine, which unlike caffeine, is a cardiac stimulant, not a nervous system stimulant. Theobromine also offers sustainable energy without the peak and crash that many people experience when they drink coffee.
Ceremonial cacao also contains mood-supporting and stress reducing compounds like:
- Antioxidants (15 times more than blueberries and 30 times more than red wine).
- Minerals including magnesium, iron, copper, calcium, potassium, zinc, selenium, phosphorus and manganese
- Serotonin which helps to elevate your mood, increase feelings of well being, and helps to regulate your sleep, and digestion.
- Anandamine a catalyst for mood enhancement and fear reduction and named after the Sanskrit word meaning “bliss,” so often called the “bliss molecule.”
- Tryptophan which helps to create more serotonin and can help regulate your sleep and increase feelings of well being.
- Phenylethylamine (PEA) a mood regulator that also supports endorphins like dopamine and nonadrenalin.
With about half as much caffeine as regular coffee, ceremonial cacao offers a host of health-boosting benefits to boot.
One of the reasons we LOVE ceremonial cacao is not only the impact is has on the humans who consume it, but the positive impact that supporting ethical ceremonial cacao brands has on the whole cacao supply chain (unfortunately, many well-known commercial chocolate brands still utilize child labor and unethical practices, over a decade after making a pledge to change that).
These are some of our favorite brands to purchase pure ceremonial cacao as a coffee substitute:
1. Cacao Laboratory – code BREAKFASTCRIMINALS for 15% off
2. Firefly Chocolate – code BREAKFASTCRIMINALS for 5% off
3. Keith’s Ceremonial Cacao – code BREAKFASTCRIMINALS for 5% off
4. Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee
Four Sigmatic makes functional beverages that are either low-caffeine or caffeine free. Their specialty is adaptogenic mushroom coffee that relies on Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, Reishi, and Chaga’s powerful compounds. Also called “medicinal mushrooms” because they’ve been used to heal for centuries, these adaptogenic mushrooms are full of antioxidants and offer the following positive health benefits without over-taxing your adrenals:
- Boosted immunity via a fortified gastrointestinal tract. Adaptogenic mushrooms act as a prebiotic “food” for healthy bacteria.
- An elevated mood and lowered anxiety and depression. Many people turn to adaptogenic mushrooms as an alternative to pharmaceutical medication since they help to reduce inflammation in the gut and also improve hormonal regulation (the gut-brain axis), both of which are tied to mental health.
- Improved sleep, in particular deep REM sleep required for healing and restoration of the entire body.
- Increased productivity via two special compounds that stimulate the growth of brain cells: hericenones and erinacines. Lion’s Mane in particular can help to increase communication across neural pathways in the brain by producing a bioprotein nerve growth factor (NFG) and myelin that insulates nerve fibers.
- Better memory due to a reduction in amyloid plaques that cause memory issues in those with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, but that also can just cause you to suffer from brain fog in early stages of their development.
- Increased creativity due to an overall improvement in brain functioning, lessened inflammation, in part due to a compound in Lion’s mane called ethyl acetate soluble fraction of H. erinaceus (EAHE) and increased communication across neural pathways.
- Weight loss support due to the antihyperglycemic, hypolipidemic and anti-inflammatory effects of adaptogenic mushrooms. Antihyperglycemic describes any compound that counteracts high levels of blood glucose. When your blood glucose levels spike, it causes an unfavorable hormonal cycle that can disturb your food satiety signals, and other hormones like ghrelin and leptin. The hypolipidemic effect describes the balance of your levels of lipids and lipoproteins in the blood. This can be beneficial to maintaining a good body-mass index. Finally many people who struggle to lose weight are also suffering from rampant inflammation. In fact, a recent study found that C-reactive protein (CRP), a key compound in many adaptogenic mushrooms help to lower C-reactive protein levels.
Four Sigmatic offers several types of mushroom coffee, each with their own caffeine levels, ranging from zero caffeine to about 50 mg of caffeine which is ½ the amount in a normal cup of brewed coffee.
Purchase Four Sigmatic as a regular coffee substitute.
5. Jnantik: Maya Seed
The Mayans were master cultivators once they abandoned nomadic life and brought things to our modern diet that we simply couldn’t live without today, including chia seeds, maize, and your very first coffee substitute, “Mayan seed.”
Jnantik is a Mayan seed full of nutrients and adaptogens created deep in the rainforest by a 150 foot- tall tree. Our planet’s rainforests host more than half of the medicinal plants in the world, including many compounds which pharmaceutical companies try to mimic in their labs. There are still thousands of unknown plant treasures within them, but fortunately the Mayans discovered Mayan seed.
Also known as Ramon, Capomo, Breadnut or Mayan nut, it is used in Mayan cultures and by traditional healers to help with everything from infertility to every possible disease with a foundation in inflammation. Ancient Mayans lived off this seed in times of drought, it was so nutrient-dense. The seed is roasted and ground to make it edible, or in this case, drinkable.
Interestingly, this nut or seed is full of magnesium, which most Westerners have devastatingly deficient. Magnesium has significant impacts on our stress response. It blocks stimulating neurotransmitters and binds to calm, restful receptors in the brain so that we can actually relax.
Jnantik also contains:
- Antioxidants including A, B, C and E
- Tryptophan (a precursor of serotonin which helps induce calm and happiness)
- Fiber and other compounds that promote a healthy gut biome
- A natural galactogogue to support pregnant and nursing women (increases milk supplies when you are breastfeeding)
Jnantik also offers a delectable flavor, while being completely caffeine free.
Purchase Jnantik as a coffee substitute.
6. Dandelion and Root Tea (Barley, Rye, Chicory)
Though not a coffee at all, Dandelion Tea, or Dandy Blend is a combination of Dandelion greens, barley, rye, sugarbeet root, and chicory grown in Poland on certified organic farms. Yes, the “weed” that many people pull from their yards is actually incredibly good for you. Dandy Blend has a slightly sweet, earthy flavor, and though it doesn’t really taste like coffee, it is indeed an enjoyable morning beverage and a great substitute for caffeine-laden coffee.
- Dandelion greens contain a host of antioxidants including Vitamin C and Vitamin A (as beta carotene). Dandelion is also a natural diuretic, aids in digestion, and is a great liver detoxer.
- Barley, Rye and Chicory are all anti-cancerous. With Chicory root containing sesquiterpene lactones that reduce inflammation that can lead to colon cancer.
- Rye is high in B Vitamins, potassium, and folate so it is an excellent drink for pregnant or lactating women since they require high levels of folate for the healthy development of their babies.
- Chicory balances the stimulant effect of coffee and is sometimes used as a coffee additive for this reason. It has a similar taste, when brewed, to coffee. It also is a tonic to many systems in the body, easing constipation, helping with liver and gallbladder disorders, and contains prebiotic inulin which helps to promote healthy gut flora.
Dandy Blend is an excellent choice for pregnant women, and anyone wanting to avoid caffeine completely.
Dandy Blend is 100% caffeine free.
Purchase Dandy Blend as a coffee substitute.
7. Matcha Green Tea
Finally, we are absolutely in love with high-quality Matcha Green Tea as a coffee substitute. Matcha goes all the way back to China’s Tang Dynasty. In the seventh through tenth centuries it was served in tea ceremonies to the court royals, and farmed in special regions of the country. Matcha Green Tea comes from the same plant that is used in many teas. However, instead of being brewed from a tea bag it is ground up into a powder. This means that all the polyphenols and beneficial constituents of the plant end up in you, and not just a watered-down tea cup. Matcha is also often confused with Sencha tea which is not as nutrient-dense because Sencha is still brewed (not the whole plant).
High quality Matcha can have 137 times more antioxidants than a low-grade variety of tea and up to 3 times as many antioxidants as many other types of tea. The more antioxidants a substance has the more it is able to fight free radicals, and thus premature aging and disease in your body.
Some of these antioxidants and healthy plant compounds in Matcha Green Tea include four main catechins and have been used for centuries in numerous cultures around the globe for their health-boosting qualities:
- Epicatechin (EC): Benefits include increasing nitric oxide production, improving mitochondrial biogenesis and angiogenesis, decreasing myostatin, increasing follistatin, and increasing exercise performance.
- Epicatechin-3-gallate (ECG): Reduces inflammation, can help with weight loss and metabolism regulation and can help prevent both brain and heart disease.
- Epigallocatechin (EGC): Also helps to reduce inflammation and boosts gut health.
- Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) (the most active and abundant in Matcha): This single compound has antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, anticollagenase, and antifibrosis qualities.
It’s important to purchase Matcha green tea in freshly made batches since it is the whole plant, ground to a bright-green powder that you can mix into water, smoothies, or even with almond milk, coconut milk, hemp, milk or another liquid of your choice. This ensures that you get the most antioxidants and EC, ECG, EGC, and EGCG possible in every sip.
Purchase Matcha Green Tea as a coffee substitute: option 1.
Purchase Matcha Green Tea as a coffee substitute: option 2.
Get more matcha brand recommendations.
5 Days to Kick your Coffee Habit
Now that you have some solid substitutes to help you replace your coffee drinking habit, let’s dig into some actionable steps you can take to kick that habit for good. If you follow this simple 5-day plan, you’ll find that you won’t experience caffeine withdrawals and as many side effects that are common when you’ve been drinking coffee for some time and try to kick the habit, cold-turkey. How long does it take to wean off coffee? While it’s best to taper off your caffeine consumption over a 2 to 3 week period, this 5-day plan will help you jump start the process for how to stop drinking coffee.
Should You Go Cold Turkey Or Not?
Quitting caffeine cold turkey can be rough on your body if you’ve been drinking coffee for awhile. Some people experience caffeine withdrawal, tiredness, crankiness, and more. Others don’t. We made this guide with both types of people in mind and what’s most important is going easy on yourself. That’s why we address sleep, stress, and exercises to make this transition easier for you.
A Word on Sleep & Stress
Many of us turn to coffee drinking as a band aid to deal with high levels of stress and lack of sufficient sleep. It is estimated that more than 50% of the world is sleep deprived! What’s more, is that the more cortisol our bodies produce due to stress the more difficult it can be to get the sleep we so desperately need.
Sleep is a vital component of your health and without enough of it, no amount of coffee or caffeine (or their substitutes) will provide you sustainable energy. Try to practice good sleep hygiene:
- Turn off your cell phone and devices at least an hour before you plan to retire.
- Make your room as dark as possible so that your body can make natural sleep hormones that help you rest peacefully – candle light, himalayan salt lamps and red light lamps are great.
- Get sunshine during the day to help regulate the sleep-wake cycle in your body. If you work in an office building or are normally indoors, try to spend at least 20 minutes in full sun. Your body is regulated by sun exposure.
- Reduce daily stress that can lead to sleep loss by practicing deep breathing, meditation, spending time in nature, or turning off “noise” that is unnecessary. Just sitting in silence for 5 minutes can be extremely restorative.
- Try to go to sleep and wake up at consistent times every day. Notwithstanding the rare weekend sleep-in, try to keep these times consistent so that your body can get into a groove and knows “when to get sleepy.”
- If you are going to drink coffee, try to consume it earlier in the day, so that when the caffeine starts to wear off you’ll naturally be hitting your bedtime.
- Try Kava Kava, Passion Fruit or a melatonin supplement just before bed to fall asleep and stay asleep with greater ease if you have trouble sleeping soundly.
- Use earplugs if you need to cancel noise at night.
- Make your sleeping space slightly cooler. Many people wake up due to overheating while they sleep. Around 65 degrees seems to be an ideal temperature for most people.
- Naps can be a great supplement for poor sleep but limit them to 20 minutes so that you don’t interrupt your normal sleep schedule.
- Give yourself at least 30 minutes to wind down. Your brain doesn’t turn off like a switch. Either read, or do some gentle yoga stretches before bed so that you can turn off the busyness in your mind and induce relaxation, a vital component to your pre-sleep regime.
- Make a wind-down beverage, whether that’s a herbal tea or an elixir made with hot water, lemon, apple cider vinegar and honey.
When you are getting consistent sleep you’ll notice that your desire to drink coffee or caffeinated beverages won’t be as strong.
Combating Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms & How Do I Get Rid of My Coffee Addiction?
If you do experience caffeine headaches, fatigue, and other caffeine withdrawal symptoms as part of your caffeine detox, you can use peppermint oil for headaches, warm baths to help detox through your skin with lavender epsom salts, or try some natural pain relief in the form of:
- Willow bark: Contains salicin to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Turmeric: Considered as good as ibuprofen for reducing inflammation-related pain.
- Cloves: A powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
- Acupuncture/Acupressure: excellent at reducing pain and fatigue.
Also be sure you stay hydrated with lots of purified water and you can even use a cool ice pack across your head if your withdrawal headache is intense.
If your caffeine habit is extreme, you can expect to feel flu-like symptoms or even mood swings, so try to be patient with yourself. You’re kicking a likely long-formed habit and a nervous system stimulant, so your body may rebel a little as it gets healthier. It will be worth it though, when you discover you are clearer headed, have tons of energy, sleep better, and are not full of anxiety and depression as you adopt newer, better habits.
Now for your 5-day plan.
Because you may experience withdrawal symptoms depending on the severity of your caffeine addiction, it might be good to choose a time to reduce your caffeine intake when your life circumstances are supportive of this change (on a retreat or a relaxing vacation is ideal, but any time when you can put yourself first is ideal.)
Ideally, you’re going to reduce your caffeine intake about 10-30 mg every three days until a zero daily caffeine amount is achieved.
If you find you can still tolerate a small amount of caffeine, you can stick to Great Tea, Ceremonial Cacao, MudWTR, or Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee. If you have a ZERO caffeine tolerance due to pregnancy, health concerns, or you just want to go 100% caffeine free, then you’ll step down your caffeine intake until you are only drinking purified water, green juices, and Jnantik, Dandelion tea, or for a very small amount of caffeine (only 5 mg per cup), Rasa.
Mix and match beverages from the suggested list based on what you have available and are called to purchase – you don’t need to be jumping into all the coffee alternatives at once.
Have a ¼ cup of your regular, preferred coffee, optionally mixed with hemp milk, almond milk, oat milk, or coconut milk. To get a healthy morning charge, try practicing this pranayama (yogic breathing exercise) celebrated for its effectiveness in building alertness, vitality, and abundant energy.
NADI SHODHANA (ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING)
Alternate nostril breathing helps to clear out the emotional and mental gunk that normally weighs us down and makes us feel unenergetic. To practice, sit in a cool, caol, quiet place. It’s great to practice right after you get out of your morning shower, when your air passages are open from the steam.
You will be closing off one nostril at a time, and gently forcing air through one passageway on both an exhale and inhale. To begin:
- Place your index and middle fingers of one hand over your third eye (in the middle of your forehead just above your brows). There is an acupressure point there that, when pressed, helps to calm the mind of its business.
- Take two slow breaths in and out through your nose with your eyes closed, through both nostrils.
- Use your thumb to gently cover your right nostril closed and inhale as you silently count to four.
- Close off the left nostril with your ring finger so that both nostrils are closed. Hold the breath for a count of two.
- Release the right nostril and exhale for the count of six.
- Inhale again through the right nostril and silently count to four. Gently close the right nostril so that both nostrils are again closed and hold the breath for the count of two.
- Release the left nostril and exhale for the count of 6.
- Inhale through the same nostril for the count of 4.
- Repeat for a 10 minute session.
If you find you can change your ratio of breath in 4 to hold 2 to exhale 6 from 5 to 3 to 10, then try to progressively extend your respiration lengths, but only do so if it is comfortable. If you like, this is a great preparatory practice for a morning meditation to set your intentions and goals, mindfully for your day.
Breathing practices like these can also help reduce the symptoms of withdrawal from caffeine.
Have a ceremonial cacao followed by a walk in nature. Many of the sounds and stimulations of city living can deplete your energy. The compounds in cacao will provide you calm, feel-good energy, and the walk in nature will compound those benefits. Find a park, forest, or a body of water to have a quick morning walk. If you can ground while you walk (allowing your bare feet to touch the ground and absorb negative ions that provide energy, even better).
However, simply being in nature restores energy, reduces depression and anxiety, and charges you up. A recent study found that adults can reduce their blood pressure by walking in a park or natural setting for just 30 minutes a week, and people who walk in nature over two consecutive days experience an increase in cancer-fighting cells called NK cells of 56 percent!
What’s more, if you have time for a longer walk, you can lower your cortisol levels (an energy stealer) and boost your immune system too. Just 40 minutes of walking in nature provides these benefits according to research conducted in Japan.
Repeat your alternate nostril breathing practice and replace your regular cup of coffee with MUDWTR, or Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee. Hit the gym and create some natural endorphins to help you get the kick-start you need that is normally sought in a cup of caffeine-laden coffee.
The more active you are, the more mitochondria your body creates. Mitochondria are tiny cell organelles that generate most of the chemical energy you need to power your cell’s biochemical reactions. Chemical energy produced by the mitochondria is stored in a small molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Trust us, once you’ve got mitochondrial energy, caffeine won’t seem nearly as necessary!
Have a cup of Matcha Green tea and listen to some uplifting music. Have fun with this one!Matcha will provide a boost of antioxidant-rich energy with about half as much caffeine as a normal cup of coffee, and your favorite music will motivate you to get your day started right. They’re the perfect pairing.
Marisabelle Diaz-Falcon, a music therapist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital says that listening to music can provide support on the days you need it the most.
Music can also improve your memory, help your workout, and even help you heal faster!
Have a cup of Jnantik or Dandelion tea (both zero caffeine) and make sure you stay hydrated with water throughout the day. Caffeine and coffee can tend to dehydrate you. When you’re dehydrated you will likely suffer from low energy! Dehydration causes fatigue because it affects the flow of oxygen to your brain and causes your heart to have to work much harder to pump oxygen to all of your bodily organs, basically tiring you out and leaving you with less energy to do other things that require your mental or physical energy.
If going caffeine free on day 5 of your coffee detox is too fast, then try adding an 8 ounce cup of MUDWTR or Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee before 2 PM so that you don’t interrupt your healthy sleep cycles.
To develop more natural, sustainable energy, you can add the practices mentioned above into your daily routine. Along with solid sleep and a healthy diet, you can expect to kick your caffeine habit with limited discomfort, and look forward to soaring energy and mental clarity.
You can also turn this 5-day plan into a 10-day plan by just doubling each practice. For example, Days 1 and 2 you would have your ¼ cup of regular coffee accompanied by alternate nostril breathing. Day 3 and 4 you would enjoy a cup of ceremonial cacao and a walk in nature, and so on.
With seven solid choices to lessen or completely stop drinking coffee and lowering your caffeine from your morning ritual, there’s no reason not to rely on the powerful health-boosting benefits of adaptogens so that you can lower your stress, sleep better, move better, and generally function as nature intended you to. For a quick reference guide for those needing a 15-second guide to purchasing a coffee substitute check out this comparison chart and choose a health-enhancing coffee substitute today:
|Coffee Substitute||Caffeine Level|
|Rasa||5 mg of caffeine per 8 oz cup|
|Jnantik||100% caffeine free|
|Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee||Ranges from zero caffeine to about 50 mg of caffeine per 8 oz cup (about ½ the amount in a normal cup of brewed coffee)|
|MUDWTR||14 mg of caffeine per 8 oz cup|
|Ceremonial Cacao||Approximately quarter the caffeine or less compared to an 8 oz cup of regular brewed coffee|
|Dandelion and Root Tea (Dandy Blend)||100% caffeine free|
|Matcha Green Tea||Around 70 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce cup in comparison to coffee which has 70 to 140 grams, depending on the type of beans you choose and how they’re brewed.|
All that’s left to do is enjoy the recovery of your tired adrenals, the restoration of your stress-management system, the improvement of your mood and sleep, better immunity, more longevity, and the joy of knowing you did it all just by changing your morning drink!
Here’s to kicking that coffee habit. You got this!
Check out these posts and recipes from Breakfast Criminals to make the most out of your morning.
What Is Cacao Ceremony?
Ceremonial cacao is my favorite daily ritual that helps me nourish both my physical and energetic body.
In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about cacao, cacao benefits, cacao ceremony and how to make ceremonial cacao.
Here, I share my all-time favorite matcha recipes from my archives and from around the internet, but first… Why is matcha good for you, how is it different from green tea powder, and what are some fun way to eat and drink it?
My Healthy Morning Routine: 7 Rituals That Change Everything
I believe that how you start your day is how you live your life. By spending your first waking moments intentionally, you get a chance to create your day instead of going through life on autopilot. Following a morning routine makes me present, productive and connected to what’s important.
Medical disclaimer: This content is intended for informational purposes only and not intended to serve as professional medical advice. No information on this site should be used to determine diet, exercise, medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment for a medical condition. Please consult a qualified health care professional and your own body to determine what works for you.