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Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. Headshot

Coffee Addiction: How to Naturally Kick the Habit

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Coffee is probably the most consumed beverage on the planet and there are many reasons why. It's both a stimulant and a laxative. So it wakes you up and makes you go... in more ways than one. For marketing purposes, coffee is often cited as a high antioxidant beverage, which may account for a recent flood of media reports that coffee is a health drink!

But, let's face it, if you analyze any plant for its contents you are bound to find antioxidants. That's what plants have in abundance. It's their job to make antioxidants. Non-edible plants like willow bark, spruce needles, pine bark and birch wood are also high in antioxidants. That doesn't mean we have to eat them!

Whether coffee is good or bad is relative and based on the individual. Let me to help you decide whether you are addicted and what to do about it.

If your blood thins out a bit and circulates better because your heart is stimulated by coffee and you are not as constipated when drinking java -- yes, you are the lucky recipient of its benefits. But if you are already stressed to the max, adrenalin pumping nonstop and addicted to other stimulants like alcohol and sugar, it's not your friend. In your case, coffee is simply adding to your stress load and your toxic load.

An accumulation of stimulants can make your heart jumpy and set your nerves on edge. In a certain group of stressed‐out and toxic folks, even one cup of coffee can be enough to trigger a racing heart and even heart palpitations. Coffee is a natural diuretic and can't help but eliminate magnesium, potassium and sodium from your body! And you're none the wiser.

You may even be making trips to your doctor or the emergency room with your heart beating wildly and nobody asks you if you are a coffee addict. I've had clients on six cups of coffee a day taking medications for coffee-induced heart arrhythmia! Now that's scary when you're taking a calcium-blocking drug to treat the effects of a magnesium deficiency caused by coffee.

How do you know you're addicted?

Simple, when you try to stop, you get a pounding headache -- that can't be healthy.

The only way out is to cut it out! The good news is that you don't have to go cold turkey. Here's my prescription. Start by taking magnesium supplements. You've been losing magnesium for as long as you've been drinking coffee, so it's time for payback. Magnesium citrate powder is a good form to begin with. You can also find magnesium glycinate and magnesium dimalate pills in health food stores or online. Unless you are extremely constipated, stay away from magnesium oxide because it's only 4 percent absorbed so the other 96 percent can act like a strong laxative.

Magnesium is the body's natural energizer. It balances muscle and nerve tension caused by calcium. It also relaxes the bowel, so it has its own gentle laxative effect. Magnesium is calming because it neutralizes adrenalin surges, which prevents anxiety and treats insomnia. All of which are the opposite of coffee's effects. Magnesium is responsible for over 325 enzyme systems in the body with body-wide beneficial effects

Plan a time two to three weeks after starting magnesium to wean off coffee; you will be amazed how easy it can be. With magnesium under your belt, switch to black tea for one week only. Then stop black tea and switch to herbal teas or a grain coffee substitute, available in health food stores.

If you need some additional help, here it is:

1. For withdrawal symptoms of irritability, sensitivity and headaches take homeopathic Chamomilla 12X (one dose, 3‐4 times a day). Magnesium is also an effective treatment for headaches.

2. If you experience insomnia, take homeopathic Coffea 12X, one dose 3-4 times a day. You can also increase your magnesium intake by one more dose.

Take both remedies for one week after you've stopped all caffeine. Remember to read labels, because some herb teas, especially green tea, can be caffeinated.

Saunas, steam rooms, hot baths with Epsom salts and more magnesium will all help to detoxify coffee and it's metabolites through your skin. You will be surprised when you start smelling coffee in your sweat! Believe it or not, clay is a great way to detox. Get some natural clay powder and simply blend up 1/2 cup in your blender with lots of water and pour that into a foot bath or tub. Soak for in hot water for 30 min and wash or shower off.

Giving up coffee is often the first step on your pathway to better health. When you have more daytime energy and nighttime sleep, you'll only want to take the next step -- cut back on sugar! Stay tuned.

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