How To End Your Coffee Addiction

When I think of quitting coffee, I think of my friend Ann Marie over at Cheeseslave. Why? Because she’s written a ton of posts on the topic. In fact, she was my inspiration for creating this month’s Caffeine Free Challenge. (How are you all doing, by the way?) I asked Ann Marie to share her wisdom with us about how to end a coffee addiction, and the following is what she wrote. Thanks, Ann Marie!

I’ve been a coffee addict since I was a teenager.

And I’m not alone. Every morning, most Americans go straight for the coffee as soon as they are able to drag themselves out of bed.

Last year, I managed to stop my addiction to coffee dead in its tracks.

How I Quit Coffee in 3 days with No Symptoms

Did you know that being addicted to coffee is a sign of a nutritional deficiency? That’s what Julia Ross, author of The Mood Cure, says.

I was lucky enough to go to an entire weekend seminar with Julia Ross last summer. Following her advice, I was able to quit coffee with absolutely no effort in just 3 days by supplementing with amino acids.

Even better, I’ve managed to stay off coffee for over 6 months now, and I do not crave it one bit.

Why Amino Acids?

Amino acids are the building blocks of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are the feel-good chemicals in our brains.

Julia Ross says that when are brains become depleted of these feel-good chemicals, we reach for drugs to feel better. Cigarettes, alcohol, sugar, and, yes, coffee are all psychoactive drugs (drugs that change our brain chemistry).

Why We’re Depleted of Neurotransmitters

The body absorbs amino acids from the protein we eat. Unfortunately, many of us have spent years not eating enough protein — since we eat so many fake foods like white flour and sugar. We eat a plate of pancakes and call it breakfast, or have a whole plate of pasta for dinner.

We also simply don’t eat enough food. We skip meals and diet, which wreaks havoc on our brain chemistry.

Wonder why you’re feeling so tired and cranky? Take a look at what you’ve been eating (or not eating).

Why We Crave Coffee

According to Julia Ross, people who are hooked on caffeine tend to be low in catecholamines. Catecholamines are the brain chemicals that provide energy and alertness.

When caffeine surges through our bloodstream, it stimulates the release of the catecholamines, adrenaline (also known as epinephrine) and noradrenaline.

Unfortunately, caffeine suppresses the appetite. It also inhibits our ability to produce more neurotransmitters.

So, while coffee helps you in the short term, it’s hurting you in the long run.

My Experience with Amino Acids

According to Ross, the best amino acids to take for caffeine addiction are Tyrosine or DLPA (Phenylalaline).

Some people do better on Tyrosine and others feel better on DLPA. I didn’t do well on Tyrosine — it made me jittery. So I decided to try DLPA.

The first day I quit coffee, I took 1,000 milligrams of DLPA in the morning and another 1,000 at lunchtime.

With just 2 capsules of DLPA per day, I was able to quit coffee without a single withdrawal symptom. No headaches, no fatigue — and no cravings. Pretty miraculous for a die-hard coffee addict like me.

I have experienced great results from quitting coffee. I stopped feeling sluggish and exhausted every day. My mood and energy is more stable. And I know that I am helping my adrenal glands by staying away from caffeine.

To learn more about how to take amino acids, please read Julia Ross’ book, The Mood Cure.

Also, check out my blog posts about caffeine, brain chemistry, and neurotransmitters:

How to Quit Coffee

A Weekend with Julia Ross, Author of The Mood Cure

30 Reasons to Quit Coffee

Photo credit: Nikki L on Flickr


    • KristenM says

      I have heard of people taking it for anywhere between 2-4 weeks. I don’t think much more than that would be necessary to wean yourself from caffeine.

    • says

      I don’t take it anymore, no. I only needed it for a few weeks.

      However I just started experimenting with it to see if I can reduce my intake of wine in the evening. Wine is my comfort crutch in the evening — the DLPA definitely nixes the urge!

  1. says

    I quit coffee four and a half years ago when I was getting ready for my PhD qualifying exams. I decided that, since I’m sensitive to caffeine anyway, I didn’t want to risk a.) having too much and getting sick from it, or b.) not having access to it for some bizarre reason and not being able to focus. So I quit all caffeinated substances for the two weeks leading up to my exam. I was also sticking to a pretty strict diet (Ayurvedic, but I mostly ate veggies, fruits, nuts, dairy, eggs, and fish), so maybe the lack of sugar helped me through it with no supplementation.

    To this day, I have a cup of coffee occasionally, for the taste, but it never triggers a desire to return to a cup-a-day habit.

  2. says

    Hi, Kristin,
    This is totally off topic, but I have over a gallon of raw milk that has gone sour. I know it can still be used, and I hate to throw it out, but I need a quick, bulk recipe to use that much sour milk. Any suggestions?

    • Kelsey Byron says

      DHM, I would use that sour milk to make Nourishing Traditions pancakes. Just replace the yogurt/kefir with the milk. You can make a lot of pancakes and freeze them.

  3. says

    I was never a coffee drinker but I couldn’t go without at least one soda a day. I stopped all caffeine, gluten, sugar, grains, soy etc etc back in August when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s and I feel so.much.better. The first week was awful when I was coming off the sugar but now I have so much energy, and with three kids, I never though it would be possible to function without caffeine!

  4. Ekka says

    Does taking DLPA and Tyrosine help with alcohol cravings too? I’ve been eating according to NT for about a year, and I’ve been taking L-glutamine for about a month (heard that helps with cravings) and still no dice. Still the cravings…

    • KristenM says

      I recommend getting that Julia Ross book, The Mood Cure, and reading up on such things. Amino acid therapy works, but there’s no one size fits all approach. What may work for you may not work for someone else. It depends on so many things — not just diet. (Like did your mother breastfeed you? How many rounds of what kinds of antibiotics have you had? What’s your toxic load of chemical exposures through work, personal hygeine products, and environment? How probiotic is your diet? How healthy is your gut? How efficient are you at absorbing certain nutrients? Each of these things plays a role in creating a nutrient-deficiency which amino acid therapy can help correct. And of course, once the nutrient-deficiency is corrected, the cravings go away.)

    • says

      It really depends on what your brain chemistry is.

      For me, I crave wine or coffee as a way to feel good. I’m low in endorphins so I use these things as a comfort thing.

      For some people, the DLPA won’t help them with alcohol cravings — they might do better with tryptopan (they may be low in serotonin, which is why they crave alcohol).

      Depending on what you are low in, you’ll need different amino acids to solve the problem.

      I echo what Kristen says in her reply — read Julia Ross’s book, The Mood Cure.

  5. TheEdwards For-Christalone via Facebook says

    Did it!! :) My body is much better off, and my nursing baby is sleeping through the night again most nights!! (Not to mention the benefits on the budget)

  6. Melissa Moran via Facebook says

    im gonna be frank: i dont wanna quit my delicious black goodness. Id rather quit red meat, but that wont happen either, im just not a quitter of all things wonderful :)

  7. Samantha says

    I find that if you replace coffee with Yerba Matte you will get the nutrients you need. There is no side effects at all! My mother in law said after one cup of the tea, she had no desire to drink coffee the rest of that day. She is a very heavy coffee drinker.
    I did it, and it is truly the easiest way I have found. I have stopped cold turkey before.. and it was not pretty. :) Hope you have a wonderful day!

  8. Denise Halyama via Facebook says

    Oh man, I read it. Now I can’t use the excuse that it’s too HARD to quit coffee. lol. That was what I was holding onto as a reason I got to keep enjoying my coffee!!

  9. Kathryn Richards via Facebook says

    I drink more coffee because it is cold and dreary outside and it warms up my insides. I don’t like tea (most of it doesn’t like me either) and hot chocolate is too sweet. I tried teechino, but it made me jittery and didn’t like me (I think it’s the barley in it, I’m allergic to it). Any ideas?

  10. says

    @Kathryn I switched to decaf coffee. I now drink one cup per day. I don’t miss the caffeine. In fact, if I do have any caffeine now, I feel like I am drugged — very jittery and uncomfortable.

    Surprise, surprise that’s because caffeine IS A DRUG!

    If you fix your brain chemistry by eating a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of good fats and protein, and take amino acids to kickstart you, you will not need drugs like caffeine.

    PS And this is the BIGGEST caffeine addict in the WORLD saying this!

  11. says

    It’s great not being dependent on caffeine. I just drink herbal tea every once and awhile, hazelnut milk warmed in a teapot is great in the mornings if you need a warm up, sometimes it’s nice to have something to warm you up so I understand wanting a hot drink.

  12. Sarah Elizabeth Neidhardt via Facebook says

    I’ve been a nutritionist for 8 years and am almost finished with my MSOM/LaC and I have found from working with hundreds of people (including myself) that the affect of coffee and caffeine on people is highly individualized. Many people (myself included) can sleep fine even with drinking coffee. It depends on your livers ability to clear caffeine from the blood. It also depends on a host of other nutritional and health factors. Switching to de-caff is generally a bad idea since caffeine is an alkaloid and actually balances the acidity of coffee, making it much easier on the system. If you can’t tolerate the caffeine I would switch to black or puer tea. (or just cut it out)
    Coffee is a potent anti-oxidant as well and some people claim it has healing properties for type A blood types.
    Coffee is definitely not for everyone but I don’t think its necessary for everyone to quit drinking coffee in order to have optimal health.

  13. Sarah Faith says

    Maybe you don’t have the answer to this, but when you say Phenylalanine it makes me think of aspartame which I know is bad for you (an excitotoxin, isn’t it?). So can you ease my mind – is aspartame totally different from the DLPA you are talking about? Or are there similarities? I have bad side effects from aspartame but not sure if it’s the phenylalanine (if it is real phenylalanine at all??) or other stuff in there. Thanks.

  14. says

    @Sarah I used to be able to sleep fine after a couple of cafe lattes when I was younger. As I got older and my hormones got more out of balance, the caffeine affected me more.

    Check out the work of Julia Ross – her book is called The Mood Cure. She says caffeine actually depletes serotonin, among other mood-boosting neurotransmitters. She also says that caffeine is a appetite suppressant — which creates a vicious cycle; when we skip meals, we deprive our bodies of the protein that converts into amino acids, which are the building blocks of the neurotransmitters that make us feel good.

    Caffeine also stresses our adrenal glands; this is the main reason Sally Fallon-Morell is strongly against drinking caffeine.

    Caffeine is a short-term fix that does long-term damage.

  15. Kelly Sparrow via Facebook says

    I found all of this very interesting ( I certainly suffer from the mood and energy issues) and plan on reading Julia’s book. However, a brief internet search seems to indicate that becaue I am nursing I shouldn’t take the amino acid supplements. I hope to gain some benefit from just the nutritional shift alone.

  16. Kelly Sparrow via Facebook says

    @TheEdwards – When you say “Did it” do you mean quit drinking coffee or did you follow the recommendation of taking the supplement too?

  17. Penelope Morrison Boettiger via Facebook says

    I disagree it is a short-term fix with long-term damage. From all the research I’ve done, I think Sarah hits it on the head. It’s perfectly fine, and way well be beneficial to health. Now if someone’s hormones are not working or they are unable to sleep, or are finding it is leading to skipped meals, clearly that would be a reason to quit. But for a healthy person who sleeps well much research shows it is beneficial to health, in moderation of course. Out of curiosity, I’d like to know the background of the author of the article with the link above. She doesn’t state any credentials or studies for her claims. But if one believes her, why would switching to decaf be any sort of solution? Many of her claims against coffee are not linked only to caffeine.
    Also you might want to check out the process of removing caffeine from coffee and tea. It is typically done with all sorts of chemicals–it is not good at all. If I were to stop drinking caffeinated coffee and tea, I would not drink them at all–no way would I put decaffeinated coffee/tea in my body.
    My main issue with coffee and tea is the sugar I put in it. I need to work on cutting that way back.

  18. Becki says

    I recently stopped drinking coffee due to the adrenal fatigue I was diagnosed with several months ago. I have since been drinking roasted Maca and haven’t missed the coffee at all. Maca is an herb from the Amazon Rain Forest. It is similar to coffee both in flavor and consistency, has no caffeine and is actually good for you. I also use raw Maca–I read that it tells your hypothalamus what to do or encourages it to do what it’s supposed to do so that your endocrine system works properly to help balance all those hormones we have.

  19. Sarah Elizabeth Neidhardt via Facebook says

    Anne Marie, I am a big fan of sally Fallon and have read the book the mood-cure. I’ve also read Caffeine blues and Sugar blues. I guess my stance on all of that is that it depends on the individual. I never recommend to my patients that they start drinking coffee if they don’t already have the habit and I always recommend that coffee drinkers keep it to 8 -12 oz per day. (I actually don’t recommend drinking coffee at all but prefer espresso for a variety of reasons the main one being that it is less acidic and contains less caffeine)

    I do not recommend drinking coffee on an empty stomach for the reasons you cited above. But again, is someone is healthy, eats regular meals, and sleeps well it does not seem to be a problem for them to drink coffee if they keep in moderation and take care of themselves. Nutrition and life-style are highly individualized needs. If folks want to stop drinking caffeine and coffee and it helps them feel better I am all for it!! I am not making a blanket statement that caffeine and coffee are good for all people, I am just saying that it isn’t necessary for EVERYONE to abstain.

    I have read many books making similar negative health-claims about eating dairy and meat. But, as you all know, those people are making blanket statements about diet that do not necessarily apply to all people. (and of course they are talking about toxic dairy not organic, raw dairy from grass-fed cows). I just think that folks need to take all dietary and health claims in stride and remember to do what works for YOU. So if quitting coffee makes you feel better than good on ya!! I am all for proactive self-healing.

  20. says

    @Penelope There are different ways to remove the caffeine from coffee and tea. I buy the naturally decaffeinated variety, which does use a solvent in the process but it is not the worst way they do it. It is not perfect, but it is better than drinking caffeine. I am planning to switch to Dandy Blend, need to order some more.

  21. Ty S says

    I just started on DLPA this morning. Instead of taking 2,000 mg a day I’m just taking 500 mg in the morning with breakfast. If I’m still having trouble after the bottle is empty (30 capsules) I’ll look into either upping the dose or switching to Tyrosine.

    Once someone has weaned themselves off of the caffeine, do they have to then wean themselves off the supplement?

  22. AL says

    This is a great post, I love it. Thank you for sharing. I’ve never been a coffee drinker nor a soda drinker but I do know many addicted to both. I do have to say that I wouldn’t consider doing to a decaf coffee either though if I were. Coffee lowers the body’s frequency which in turn can bring about cancer and disease. it also makes the body very acidic, which also causes cancer and disease. I would recommend an herbal organic tea sweetened with raw honey if I was looking to get off coffee/caffeine for that warm cup so many are used to holding in their hands. Maca Root has also been used to help get off caffiene I have read.
    Thanks for the post! I shared it.

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