Experts are divided on the benefits and drawbacks of caffeine. It is definitely an addictive substance, with its own unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. If you’re trying to break the habit, you may experience headache, fatigue, muscle pain and even nausea. That’s because caffeine constricts the blood vessels of the brain, and when caffeine is withdrawn, the blood vessels suddenly swell, often resulting in migraine pain. Fortunately, the symptoms usually pass within a week or so. In the meantime, here are some natural ways to reduce the side-effects of withdrawal, and make it less miserable to ease off caffeine.
1. Decrease gradually with ginseng.
Even if your goal is to eliminate caffeine entirely, you don’t have to do it all at once. Try a gradual approach, cutting back steadily over a few weeks. As you decrease caffeine, add ginseng to your coffee or take a ginseng supplement. Caffeine constricts the blood vessels, and ginseng opens them. Ginseng is not a remedy for a headache already underway, but this approach may prevent headaches from happening
2. Take magnesium and calcium supplements.
Scientists know that caffeine depletes magnesium in the body. Adding magnesium back into the body can provide relief from the symptoms of withdrawal. In order to use magnesium efficiently, the body also needs sufficient calcium, so choose a supplement that includes both minerals. Foods that are naturally high in magnesium include almonds, artichokes, black beans, cashews, spinach and buckwheat flour.
3. Try Right Nostril Breathing.
Right nostril breathing is a yoga technique that increases oxygen levels in the body while temporarily increasing blood pressure and blood glucose levels. It acts as a natural stimulant and actually mimics the effects of caffeine in the body, causing the blood vessels in the brain to constrict and balance the swollen vessels, thus reducing headaches. A study by Svyasa University confirmed these effects, but the study warns that left nostril breathing has a completely opposite effect. Also, if you are hypertensive, this method is contraindicated. If you experience pain or feel short of breath during right nostril breathing, discontinue the practice.
4. Use homeopathic remedies.
Several homeopathic herbs help with caffeine withdrawal. “Caffeine Free” is a mixture made by Liddell Laboratories. It comes in liquid form, with drops that are used under the tongue. This combination soothes the nerves, relieves anxiety and lessens mood swings.
5. Practice restorative yoga.
Gentle restorative yoga postures can be useful in reducing the fatigue, muscle pain and headaches associated with caffeine withdrawal. Unlike high-intensity yoga, restorative yoga employes gentle, passive postures and relaxing meditation.
Just a reminder: all inverted yoga postures, such as forward fold, headstand and downward-facing dog, should avoided if you are withdrawing from caffeine, as they may worsen headaches.