Here’s How To Counteract The Side Effects Of Caffeine

Updated on November 9th, 2020
Caffeine Overdose

You’ve all been there: one cup of coffee too many, and the anxiety sets in. Of course, not brewing one more cup is the initial place to begin, but is there any other way to counteract too much caffeine’s adverse side effects? Learning the signs of excessive caffeine and understanding our personal caffeine cutoff can serve as preventive measures.

For the days when we don’t get ahead, here are few tips to help manage unwanted symptoms.

What is caffeine?

Caffeine occurs naturally in certain nuts, plants, and seeds, and manufacturers add it to some drinks and foods. It has a range of effects on our body, from making a person feel more awake to suppressing appetite.

Caffeine is a stimulant, which infers that it increases some of our body’s processes. For instance, messages moving between the body and brain can travel faster. This is a reason why an individual can feel more focused or alert after taking caffeine [1].

Breathing and heart rate may also speed up after someone takes caffeine. Most of the effects on our body do not cause lasting harm and are short term. However, taking a large amount of caffeine can have a harmful effect on our bodies.

[Read: Surprising Healthy Ways to Get Your Caffeine]

How to Counteract Caffeine Overdose

Unfortunately, the best way to deal with excessive caffeine is to just wait it out. According to one research, it can take anywhere from three to ten hours for caffeine to thoroughly flush out of an individual’s system [2]. 

While there’s no real way to expedite the process, here are a few ways to help manage some of the unwanted side effects:

1. Drink water 

Consuming excessive caffeine (namely coffee) can lead to dehydration.  Apart from being a natural diuretic, coffee is also a bladder stimulant. Meaning, unless you’re drinking adequate water to rehydrate, you are pretty much just losing fluids

One method to tell if coffee is dehydrating you beyond your pee color? Check your lips.  Dry lips are a sign that we may have had one mug too many. Managing this side effect is easy enough: Adequately hydrate by eating hydrating foods, drinking more water, or adding in electrolytes.  

2. Move your body

If you have adequate time, try to work it off. Exercising and burning some calories might help. A migraine study found that increased exercise can help minimize the effects of headaches, so quick yoga flow or even a short walk may help. If anything, getting up and shaking your body can help you release any excess energy.  

3. Eat fiber-rich foods

Foods high in fiber, like veggies, whole grains,  or legumes, can help slow caffeine absorption, Gandhi explains. 

4. Take adaptogens and supplements 

Adaptogens and supplements, including ashwagandha, L-theanine, or Rhodiola, can help to relieve some of the jitters and anxiety caused by excessive caffeine. 

To avoid drinking too much coffee to begin, make your first cup more effective by adding in maca root and ashwagandha. The ashwagandha itself takes off some of the edge when you’re feeling fatigued, and the maca root is good for energy. After that, there’s no requirement for another cup.  

5. Meditate or practice breathwork

It might be tough to quiet your mind when you’re filled with caffeine. Of course, that’s not the case for all, but if the stimulating effects of coffee bring you the jitters or anxiety, practice breathwork, taking time to slow down, or meditate might help minimize those feelings. 

Not that we’d suggest forgoing sleep every night, but if caffeine is keeping you from a good night’s rest, one research says just forty minutes of meditation may minimize the need for sleep, at least momentarily. 

How much caffeine is too much?

The United States FDA  says that anywhere below 400 mg of caffeine per day is generally safe. After 400 mg of caffeine, you begin to see the beneficial effects of coffee get replaced with negative side effects [4]. 

If we break it down, that’s a little more than 4 cups of regular brewed coffee or cold brew,  which both contain about 96 mg per cup. (Here: the caffeine content of popular drinks). 

Adverse side effects of excessive caffeine

Excessive caffeine intake, whether it’s from tea, coffee, chocolate, or certain medications, can lead to these unwanted symptoms:

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  • Jitteriness 
  • Fast heart rate (tachycardia or palpitations)
  • High blood pressure
  • Anxiety 
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Sodium and water retention
  • Headaches
  • Dehydration
  • Insomnia

Digestive issues, like indigestion, frequent bowel movements, and acid reflux.

Prevention

Regularly taking high doses of caffeine can cause long-term health issues, including:

  • difficulty sleeping
  • stomach ulcers
  • depression and anxiety 

For most individuals, caffeine consumption is unlikely to lead to long-term health problems or an overdose. Individuals who consume caffeine regularly develop a tolerance to some of its negative effects. Drinking coffee in moderation can also have health issues.

Being aware of the quantity of caffeine found in drinks, food, and supplements can help. Therefore, an individual may choose to have a smaller-sized coffee, opt for decaffeinated hot beverages, like herbal teas, or alternate regular with decaffeinated coffee.

Caffeine supplements and powder can contain very high levels of caffeine that can be detrimental to health. The FDA strongly recommends people to avoid these products.

When to see a Physician

If an individual has any signs of caffeine overdose or has taken an excessive amount of caffeine accidentally, they must seek medical advice. An individual can get immediate advice from Poison Control, a not-for-profit organization that runs a website and helpline to give information on accidental poisoning.

Bottom Line

While it’s not possible to flush excess caffeine out of your system, there are some ways to help mitigate the adverse effects. Practicing stress management, hydrating, eating fiber-rich foods and mindfulness techniques are just a few suggestions.

For individuals looking to get ahead of the symptoms, they should microdose their intake. Those looking to cut back altogether? Be mindful of these possible withdrawal symptoms. 

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