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 Nutritional Programs: Nutritional Program for Caffeine Detoxification  

What to do—Detox
Anyone with regular caffeine intake should truly consider withdrawing from their habit until they can reach a state of occasional use and enjoyment. For caffeine detoxification, it is important to support ourselves nutritionally while we eliminate or reduce our intake. If we are clearly addicted to caffeine products or if we become pregnant, we should quit totally. Breaking the habit by tapering down or going "cold turkey" will be better handled with a good diet and adrenal support.

An alkaline diet is helpful during detoxification. Fruits can be used as snacks; vegetable salads, soups, greens, seaweed, corn, some whole grains, sprouts, soy products, and some nuts and seeds are the basis of this high-nutrient diet. A decrease in acid foods, such as meats, sugar (avoiding sugar may really help minimize caffeine withdrawal), and refined flours, and avoiding overuse of baked goods, even whole grain products, and nuts and seeds are good ideas. Drinking at least six to eight glasses of filtered water and sipping on some mineral waters can help replace the coffee habit. Often, some baking soda or, even better, potassium bicarbonate tablets, will help make us more alkaline and reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Vitamin C supplementation also helps during withdrawal and supports the adrenals. As an antistress program, several grams or more of vitamin C can be taken over the course of the day, preferably in a buffered form, along with certain minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and zinc, all of which often need to be supplemented. B complex vitamins with extra pantothenic acid (250 mg. four times daily) along with 500 mg. of vitamin C every two hours can be helpful in withdrawal.

With general coffee usage, we need to support the commonly depleted nutrients. These include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), pyridoxine (B6), vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and probably zinc, iron, calcium, and the trace minerals. Sometimes additional amino acids are helpful in balancing our energy level during use or withdrawal from caffeine. Water intake and additional fiber, even on top of a high-fiber diet, will help support the bowel function, which can slow down during caffeine withdrawal.

For caffeine detoxification, it is definitely easier to detox over a week or two to avoid significant headaches and other symptoms, although some regular users can stop fairly easily without many problems. Drinking grain-coffee blends, diluted or smaller amounts of regular coffee, or decaffeinated coffee (only if it is water processed) is a good way to reduce caffeine intake. Some people can substitute tea, which has less caffeine, and taper off of that more easily.

If headaches occur during detoxification, some mild pain relievers can be used for a few days, but not much longer. Increased water intake, vitamin C and mineral support, an alkaline diet, and white willow bark herb tablets, which contain a natural salicylate, may also ease withdrawal.

As we move away from coffee and caffeine beverages, there are a number of herbal substitutes that can be both stimulating and refreshing. The roasted herbal roots, including barley, chicory, and dandelion, are most common. These grain "coffees," such as Rombouts, Postum, Pero, Cafix, and Wilson’s Heritage, are becoming very popular among former coffee drinkers. Ginseng root tea is preferred by some. The Chinese herb ephedra is a stimulant like caffeine and can be used for transitions, though I do not recommend its regular intake as we still want our body’s natural energizing functions to work. Ephedra is found in a number of "natural" stimulant formulas. Herbal teas made from lemon grass, peppermint, ginger root, red clover, and comfrey can also be very energizing.

Herbal Caffeine Substitutes

Roasted barleyRomboutsGinseng root
Chicory rootRosataromaGinger root
Dandelion rootWilson’s HeritageEphedra
PostumCafixComfrey leaf
PeroMiso brothLemon grass
PioneerDuranRed clover
PeppermintComfrey leaf

Some authorities feel that if we are to drink a cup of coffee a day, we should do it in the mid to late afternoon, the most harmonious time. For the English, this is teatime. This best fits our body’s natural cycle, as it does not interfere with the usually "up," high-adrenal morning hours, it mildly supports our relaxing time of the day while we may still have work to do, yet it is not too late interfere with sleep for most people. Those who are sensitive to caffeine’s effects may not relax or sleep well after using it; they should consider avoiding it totally or using it only rarely.

The pleasures of coffee or tea drinking are related to our culture, taste preferences, and conditioning in terms of both social graces and work/life demands. All of these are developed, not inherent, and anything we learn, we can also unlearn or relearn. This is often what it takes to change our regular drinking of caffeinated beverages to more healthful practices regarding liquid refreshments and energy generation.

The ranges for certain nutrients in the table above represent amounts that vary from the lower support levels to the higher amounts to be used during detoxification. The amounts shown are daily totals, usually taken two or three times during the day.

New and Healthful Coffee Break

Take three days free of caffeine every two to three weeks—allow the body to rest and recover from the repeated stimulation. Instead, drink hot lemonade with mint tea and honey, or your favorite herbal beverage.

—Bethany ArgIsle

Caffeine Support and Detox Nutrient Program

Water 2 1/2-3 qt.
Fiber15-20 g.

Vitamin A10,000 IUs Iodine150 mcg.
Beta-carotene25,000 IUs Ironmen—10-20 mg.
Vitamin D400 IUs women—20-30 mg.
Vitamin E400-800 IUs Magnesium500-800 mg.
Vitamin K300 mcg. Manganese5-10 mg.
Thiamine (B1)75-150 mg. Molybdenum300-500 mcg.
Riboflavin (B2)50-100 mg. Potassium 300-600 mg.
Niacinamide (B3)50-100 mg. Silicon100 mg.
Niacin (B3)50-100 mg. Selenium200 mcg.
Pantothenic acid (B5)500-1,000 mg. Zinc45-75 mg.
Pyridoxine(B6)50-100 mg.
Pyridoxal-5-phosphate25-50 mg. Adrenal50-50 mg.
Cobalamin (B12)100-200 mcg. L-amino acids500-1,500g.
Folic acid400-800 mcg. Potassium
Biotin300 mcg.
600-1,000 mg.
Vitamin C2-6 g.
Bioflavonoids250-500 mg.
Calcium800-1,000 mg.
Chromium200-400 mcg.
Copper2-3 mg.

(Excerpted from Staying Healthy with Nutrition ISBN: 1587611791)
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 About The Author
Elson Haas MDElson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
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