caffeine blues

Okay, I know this article won’t be popular. Most of us are so addicted to caffeine that we don’t want to know anything about it. I’m writing this because when Stephen Cherniske MS’s “Caffeine Blues” came out, I knew I had to read it. Several years ago I began to realize that coffee was much worse than we had been told, because I realized that I had arthritic pain in my wrist within ten to twenty minutes of drinking a cappuccino.

This book not only told me how bad coffee was, it told me how GOOD I would feel once I was totally caffeine free for two months. Somehow this book convinced me to give it a try. And he was right! For example, I no longer have the feeling of exhaustion that I sometimes had in the morning.

This is one of the best health books I have ever read. It is written by Stephen Cherniske, who is a clinical nutritionist. “Caffeine Blues” is incredibly easy to read and compelling. After reading it I realized that caffeine does NOT give us energy. In fact, it is one of the main CAUSES of LACK of energy. However, he explains that this drug is so powerful that one needs to go from three weeks to two months without caffeine before noticing a difference. And how many of us have ever done that? Almost nobody.

As Cherniske reviewed tons of information on caffeine, he began to see that, consciously or unconsciously, almost all researchers start with the assumption that caffeine is okay. Why? Probably because they themselves were dependent on caffeine.

Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, cola, lollipops, many soft drinks, some drugs, most ‘energy’ drinks, and guarana.

One 6 oz cup of:

Filtered coffee has around 120mg of caffeine.

Black tea has around 70mg of caffeine.

Green tea about 35 mg of caffeine

Leading Cola 45mg Caffeine

Mountain Dew 54mg Caffeine

The brewed decaf has 5mg of caffeine.

Milk chocolate has 6 mg per ounce

Baking chocolate has 35 mg per ounce.

Caffeine is produced by more than eighty species of plants. The reason may well be survival. It turns out that caffeine is a biological poison used by plants as a pesticide.

Caffeine is considered harmless simply because it is used so much.

There is a brochure available in hospitals and other related medical areas: “What You Should Know About Caffeine” published by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) in Washington DC. After many phone calls, Cherniske finally obtained a list of IFIC ‘supporters’. The list included Pepsi, Coca-Cola, M&Ms, Nutrasweet, Nestl√© and Hershey, all of which have caffeine in their drinks and foods. IFIC ‘partners’ included groups such as the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and the Better Business Bureau Inc Council Children’s Advertising Review Unit. This brochure states that “Caffeine is normally excreted several hours after consumption.” In fact, only 1% is excreted. The remaining 99% has to be detoxified by the liver.

It can take up to 12 hours to detoxify a single cup of coffee.

Many studies related to coffee and hypertension were flawed, because the test studies left coffee alone for a week or two. It takes many more weeks for the body’s stress hormone levels to return to normal.

The ‘half-life’ of a drug is the time it takes the body to eliminate half the dose. Caffeine is a drug. The half-life of a single dose of caffeine ranges from three to TWELVE hours.

Caffeine puts your body under stress. A single 250-milligram dose of caffeine (the equivalent of about 2.5 six-ounce cups of coffee) has been shown to increase levels of the stress hormone epinephrine (adrenaline) by more than 200%.

Caffeine triggers a classic fight or flight reaction. The fight or flight response was designed for events that occurred occasionally (like a lion chasing you). Now, we put our bodies in fight or flight every day with caffeine! Since we are in society, we do not respond in a fight or flight manner. Instead, other things can happen. For example, sugar and fat are dumped unused into the bloodstream. Sugar creates more stress. Fat clogs arteries. The digestive system slows down or shuts down.

Caffeine is not only addictive, but also encourages other addictions to substances such as nicotine.

Caffeine doesn’t give you energy. Stimulates the nervous system and adrenal glands. That’s not energy, that’s stress. Imagine going to a bank to ask for a loan. The loan officer agrees to your loan. But when he leaves the bank, he realizes the fine print: the loan has to be repaid at 75% interest! The ‘energy’ you think you get from caffeine is really just a loan from your adrenal glands and liver, and the interest you have to pay is very high.

Stress is an important factor in disorders such as anxiety, insomnia, depression, ulcers, rheumatoid arthritis, headache, hypoglycemia, asthma, herpes, hypertension, and heart disease. And yet hospitals provide coffee and tea, which stresses your body!

DHEA is our vital hormone. The decrease in DHEA levels is one of the causes of aging. Caffeine consumption leads to DHEA deficiency.

Caffeine lowers the stress threshold in virtually everyone. That is, if you have taken caffeine, it will be easier for you to suffer emotional stress. (Thus, when doing research designed to show how safe caffeine is, any test subject who is under significant stress is removed from the study.)

Caffeine is implicated in ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome: GABA is produced in the intestinal tract, where it calms anxiety and stress. Caffeine disrupts the normal metabolism of GABA.

Caffeine disrupts sleep. Deep sleep is CRITICAL for good health. When there is caffeine in your bloodstream, you are unlikely to experience deep sleep.

Caffeine ANYTIME of the day can cause trouble sleeping, especially if you’re under stress.

Malnutrition is one of the best-defined effects of habitual caffeine intake.

A single cup of coffee can reduce the absorption of iron from a meal by up to 75%.

People do not develop tolerance to the anxiety-producing effects of caffeine. Rather, people simply get used to the feelings of stress, irritability, and aggression that the drug produces.

Caffeine contributes to depression in well-defined ways. This is particularly due to the withdrawal effect, which can cause headache, depression and fatigue, even in occasional users (p. 111). Cherniske reported that 90% of people who came to him suffering from depression who gave up caffeine completely for 2 months reported that his depression disappeared.

If you’re a coffee (or tea, or cola) drinker, you may be thinking, “Well, I drink coffee and I’m not depressed.” It is necessary to affirm that we are all different, and also that depression can be subtle. Throughout the book, Cherniske suggests that you’ll never know the full effect the drug is having on you until you experience what life is like without caffeine (which takes two months). Over the years, Cherniske has heard similar responses from hundreds of customers: “Wow, I never realized caffeine made me like this (select one: anxious, depressed, irritable).”

Students around the world use caffeine not only to stay awake, but also believe that the drug will improve their test performance. However, solid research illustrates that as little as 100 milligrams of caffeine (one cup of coffee, two cups of cola) can cause a significant DECREASE in recall and reasoning.

When people are relaxed and are given caffeine, the caffeine does not raise blood pressure significantly. But how many people are relaxed? When people are stressed and caffeine is given, blood pressure rises significantly.

Women who drank more than 24 ounces of coffee (6 moderate cups) per day had nearly double the risk of heart attack compared to non-coffee drinkers. Moderate coffee drinkers with high cholesterol had more than seven times the risk of heart attack, while heavy coffee drinkers had eighteen times the risk of non-coffee drinkers!

Caffeine depletes your stores of thiamine and other B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc.

Caffeine increases calcium loss and the risk of osteoporosis.

In a large study, the risk of hip fracture for those women who consumed the most caffeine was 300% higher than for the group who consumed little or no caffeine.

Accept the challenge! Most people have no idea what life would be like without caffeine and stress hormones coursing through their veins. Even if you’re only having a few cups of coffee, your personality is likely affected in ways that may be too subtle for you to associate with caffeine. I want to encourage you to go on a trial period without caffeine. You owe it to yourself.

Don’t go ‘cold turkey’. To avoid headaches etc. when quitting caffeine, Cherniske recommends taking up to six weeks to quit. She drinks the same NUMBER of cups, but each week reduce the strength or amount in each cup.

There is much more information in this very easy to read and very interesting book. 440 pages. Read this book and you won’t need to spend as much on supplements!

Copyright ©: Stephanie Relfe Р2001

Permission to use this article in whole or in part is granted if you acknowledge the author and cite and link to

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