While I believe caffeine (and coffee specifically) to be a healthy option, it is a tool that can be abused like any other. Over the past few weeks, I have been abusing caffeine relative to my usual standards and I have paid the price for it.
My typical routine includes one cup of coffee early in the morning (around 5:30 AM) before I do meditation and start my work day. Lately, I have been drinking cold brew coffee as it has less acidity. Unfortunately, it is also a stronger variation of coffee and I’ve probably been consuming 175 – 250 mg of caffeine with my morning cup these days.
That is a recipe for disaster.
My brain is sensitive and even though I only consume one cup of coffee per day, I’ve found myself crashing earlier and earlier with no explanation. I’ve been more tired and, in one instance, I had trouble staying away during an engaged conversation. It wasn’t during a television show, but while I was out at a coffee shop speaking to someone.
How to Turn the Tide
I’m acutely aware of my mental state and physical capabilities and becoming tired so quickly and easily is not something I look highly on. In fact, one of the biggest challenges has been staying on task when I start to become tired. A quick rest often does the trick, but I can’t afford to shut my eyes every 30 minutes for 5 minutes at a time!
I’ve used my knowledge of nootropics to better get a handle on my caffeine addiction and quit caffeine without many of the nasty withdrawal symptoms.
Step 1 – Weaning off caffeine
The first step to quit caffeine is to get off the compound without causing any kind of distress to your system. One way to do that is through a process of weaning myself off of caffeine. This means taking far lower doses and having my body acclimate to the lack of caffeine slowly rather than cold turkey.
My process for weaning myself off of caffeine was to remove the cold brew dosage (175 – 250 mg) and replace it with 80mg, which is in the 1-2-Go supplement. That is around 1/2 if not 1/3 the dosage that I was taking before, which helps to prevent headaches and mood swings. If you don’t like the theobromine in 1-2-Go you can find any combination of caffeine and L theanine pills.
While I definitely feel less stimulated and focused during these first two days of weaning, it is nice for me to have the added benefit of L-theanine as well. L-theanine is a nootropic amino acid that helps improve relaxation and negates many of the side effects of caffeine.
Step 2 – Replacing caffeine
The second step in quitting coffee without withdrawals is replacing caffeine with something else. In my case, I’d like to use some herbal and amino acid options that aren’t too overwhelming. For this, I have chosen to go with L-tyrosine which is a non-essential amino acid to support dopamine production. L-tyrosine around 500 – 1000 mg per day is helpful for the purposes of replacing caffeine.
Of course, it is possible to get even more efficient versions of L-tyrosine, such as a new product called N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine. This N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine is also referred to as NALT with many benefits for dopamine production.
Here are some other non-natural options that I still like to use:
- Aniracetam (750 mg) – The dosage for me is important. If I take aniracetam in a 1500 mg dosage, I don’t really feel all that much stimulation. However, if I take it in combination with oxiracetam, it does wonders.
- Oxiracetam (750 mg) – This is another synthetic option from the racetam family with stimulating properties that aren’t the same as the aniracetam.
Step 3 – Weaning off replacements
Yet, no matter how great these nootropics are, there is something flawed about becoming addicted to other drugs besides caffeine. My intention is to be clear of the need to use any of these things. The other drugs only help to wean myself off the replacements.
Over time, I’ll need less of the drugs in order to keep going. The l-tyrosine is currently only a useful tool to combat feelings of stress (that would come with caffeine withdrawals). The aniracetam and oxiracetam are pick me up options in the middle of the day as I have less caffeine in my system.
By the end of a 2-week phase, I hope to have none of these as necessary options for enhancing my mental performance.
Step 4 – Selective, Strategic Supplementation (SSS)
Finally, once I have no need to consume caffeine or any other nootropic drug, I can be selective with my supplementation. Perhaps I have a day full of really great work. I may have a challenging task in front of me and though it all, I would like to be able to use drugs selectively to get my task complete.
Whereas now caffeine does little to make me feel better (it just makes me feel normal), it will be a situation where my cognitive function is already high and caffeine makes it higher.