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Fighting Coffee

17th October 2011



The adrenaline surges around your body.

The rational part of your brain starts to be sidelined in order to run on reactive instinct to keep you alive.

Energy is diverted from your brain, immune system, digestive system into your arms and legs, flight or fight?

Your nervous system is being pushed to the limit as your brain reacts to this life threatening danger.

What’s the danger here?


Of course there isn’t any, but this is the typical reaction to a cup of coffee as caffeine stimulates survival mode in your brain. 


Some people think caffeine doesn’t cause them any problems, whilst for some that may be true, for others it’s either denial or poor judgement as they are likely to be addicted to the stuff.  It only takes 7 days of drinking coffee to be addicted and then after that the mind stimulation people think they are experiencing is their fight or flight going into action and also bizarrely their cravings being satisfied.  Being told to stop or even thinking about stopping can get the mind making all sorts of excuses so it can continue getting its hit.  Caffeine lasts about 6 hours in your system but over time like most stimulants, it’s effects get less so the brain gets you to drink more or search for other stimulants to keep you alert.  This is a vicious cycle as the stimulants will often lead to do a drop in alertness which leads you to look for more to keep you functioning.


Caffeine causes problems for many of my clients when combined with a sensitive nervous system,  it begins with the worrying, frustration, snappiness, negative thoughts, feeling tired and the odd restless nights sleep. It then can end up with insomnia, panic attacks, anxiety, outbursts of anger, heart palpitations, stomach disorders, low physical health, poor decision making, really dark thoughts and feeling exhausted. You will know if this is happening to you and the decision is whether to let this continue or to simply cut down and stop.  Life is too short to have your nervous system under such pressure when you need it for normal every day life.  As stress is now being labelled the new black death of the modern age, adding caffeine to the mix as well is a sure fire way of making things worse. 


A stressed mind changes the way you look at and experience life, as the mind is running on reactive mode then the wise, rational and proactive part of you is sidelined to deal with possible dangers.  That is a sh*t way to live life,  you can’t keep on living with fear motivating your mind as the result often burn out and clients who reach that stage are often in a very bad place which I wouldn’t wish for anyone to experience.  Dealing with and lowering stress is vital for a healthy mind and body and life’s too short for being mentally challenged from too young an age.  With stress being linked to mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s we have to assess what we can realistically change in our lives to bring down the stress levels.   Caffeine is a small change but powerful enough to create lasting results. Another problem with caffeine is that it is prevents your brain chemistry working properly one chemical we need to work in balance is adenosine. Some of it’s jobs include helping you sleep, dealing with inflammation and calm down your nervous system.  It cannot do this so well when it’s being blocked by caffeine.  This just makes life that much harder if your body is struggling to function as well as it could.


Whilst researching this article someone told me that the caffeine in tea was different and that it didn’t have the same effect as caffeine in coffee.  The only difference that I could find was the theory that caffeine may be absorbed more slowly.  Is that a good thing?  Well drawing out the survival mode response doesn’t sound that good to me.  I also found some articles which suggested people becoming hooked on being stimulated by coffee are more likely to seek out being stimulated through drugs too.


The other side of the coin is that coffee in moderation can have apparent health benefits which include reduced risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Diabetes and certain types of cancers so you have to weigh up what’s more important for you.  These benefits can also be gained through other ways including decaf coffee so I wouldn’t use the list as an excuse to continue with caffeine hits especially if you are prone to anxiety, anger, tension etc.


The bottom line is that caffeine is a problem for people who are suffering from various levels of stress, anxiety, restless sleep, anger and any other nervous system related problems.  If you suspect this is you then you would certainly benefit from cutting down and maybe stopping.  There maybe a withdrawal period which may feel uncomfortable but this passes very quickly and then note down any changes you notice with your current issues.   I have seen way too many clients benefit from cutting down and stopping caffeine intake, they are often shocked at how easy it was for them and how good they feel.


The Life Doctor is available for private sessions online or in person at my office in Hove




Picture credit to Paul.

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