Caffeine is the most widely ingested psychoactive drug in the world, primarily used to increase wakefulness and alertness. Mostly derived from the coffee bean, caffeine is highly addictive, with strong side effects upon withdrawal, including headaches and extreme fatigue. Too much caffeine can cause dizziness, anxiety and acid reflux. Consuming caffeine during pregnancy has been linked to low birth weight, smaller head size and possible DNA inhibition. Fortunately, there are several substitutes for caffeine that offer similar focus and wakeful results.
1) Ginkgo Biloba
This is an herbal extract from the nut of the tree with the same name. It has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine and works as a vasodilator, which increases of blood flow, particularly to the brain and extremities. People have reported better focus, well being and even creativity when taking this herb. Ginkgo Biloba is also used to treat asthma and circulatory diseases. It can be consumed in capsule, tincture or tea.
This is an extract derived from the ginseng root. It grows in many parts of the world and varies in potency. Also used since ancient times, ginseng is beneficial for increased blood flow, and like coffee, has a stimulating effect. It's been shown to reduce depression and stress. It can be consumed in capsule, tincture or tea.
3) Ice Cold Water and a B12
Ice cold water first thing in the morning can shock your system into a metabolic furnace that kicks into gear to warm the water put into your system. Combined with vitamin B12, this is an excellent way to jump start your engine. B12 is known for its mental clarity and energy enhancing properties (take a look at some of those energy drinks; B12 is usually front and center). It also plays a role in melatonin production (a hormone that regulates healthy sleep cycles). B12 can help depression, asthma and the formation of red blood cells. The best way to take B12 is sublingually (under the tongue).
4) Teeccino and Cafix
These are two caffeine substitutes often found in health food stores. They are primarily made from grains, figs, chicory and beetroot. These products have had great success in mimicking the familiar taste of coffee, without any caffeine or acidity whatsoever. Like anything, there would be an adjustment period, but most people trying to kick the caffeine addiction give these two products high marks.
5) Stretch and Eat an Apple?
Stretching upon rising catapults oxygen metabolism in the blood, sending oxygen rich cells to the muscles and the brain, which sparks an alert and focused body. Combine this with a fresh apple and you can boost your system into a similar caffeine wakefulness. The act of chewing an apple opens up neural and muscle pathways, and the fructose sparks the metabolism into energy production.
Note: If you are a daily caffeine drinker, any of the above substitutes will take time to work as your body deals with caffeine withdrawal. Caffeine is very strong and rivals most other products, but in due time, the body will get used to the lack of caffeine and embrace other choices. Be sure and check with your doctor before withdrawal and replacement of these and any other ideas.