83% of Americans drink coffee, and adrenal fatigue (a.k.a. HPA axis dysregulation) is rampant among Americans.
No coincidence here.
I’m not knocking coffee. I love coffee. But not because of the caffeine itself. Just because I associate the ritual of coffee drinking with being up early with my love and my dogs and watching The Today Show.
…But once upon a time, I had adrenal fatigue. And I had it bad.
I was exhausted all the time, even more exhausted after exercise, depressed, bloated, and had extreme sensory overload in social situations. All these symptoms can be clumped together into one frustrating-and-stubborn-condition: Adrenal fatigue.
So when I decided I wanted to feel energized and happy again, I had to give up 90% of my caffeine intake for a time to heal my adrenals a.k.a. live less like a zombie and more like a functioning member of society.
Adrenal fatigue is also defined as extreme exhaustion without a real known reason. It happens after long periods of stress, trauma, or just a really busy life… when your brain stops responding to the crucial “awake” hormones that your adrenals produce.
The process of developing adrenal fatigue is a lot longer and more scientific than that, but it’s important to know that if your exhaustion wont “let up” with a good night’s sleep, you may have adrenal fatigue. It’s okay if you do (I did), as it’s completely reversible.
However, because caffeine can stress the adrenal glands immensely, it’s important to cut back majorly if you suspect you may have adrenal fatigue.
Caffeine withdrawal can be rough. I had a teacher once who drank 6–8 cups of coffee per day for fifteen years. She said when she gave it up, it took her a month and a half to not feel completely run over by a truck everyday. That’s a long time while you’re just waiting for caffeine withdrawal to go away.
Not only can these three alternatives replace daily caffeine intake while you’re healing your adrenal fatigue, but they can help ease your withdrawal symptoms as well.
Read on to discover the my top three favorite ways to boost energy levels without caffeine. I used these when I was transitioning to an adrenal-healing, low-caffeine life. And they worked like a charm.
Because this is a juice, and not a food, the abundance of nutrients in it enter your bloodstream quickly and easily. There is no fiber to break down first, and there are natural enzymes that help break down the carbohydrates in it. The abundance of nutrients that enter your cells quickly makes you energized (because your cells have all the nutrients they need right now to make their energy units, otherwise known as ATP). Wheatgrass contains many essential minerals and trace minerals as well as Vitamins A, B12, C, E, and K. It also contains 17 amino acids, the building blocks of protein. And for anyone wondering… wheatgrass is gluten-free.
Dosage: 1–1.5 ounces, in replacement of coffee. Don’t take more than this starting dose more than once a day at first, because wheatgrass can be very “detoxifying,” and you may get the ill-effects of a die off reaction if taken too much too quickly. A die off reaction means harmful bacteria or yeasts in your body are literally “dying off”, and it can cause headaches, fatigue, bloating, and brain fog.
Licorice root increases the circulating levels of cortisol in your blood by reducing it’s breakdown (and not by creating extra cortisol, which is a common health myth). The root contains a compound called glycerrhizic acid that inhibits the breakdown of circulating cortisol in the liver. If you have adrenal fatigue and your cortisol levels are abnormally low, you may already know how increasing your circulating cortisol levels is an incredibly important part of reversing it. Another important part of healing adrenal fatigue is letting your brain recognize what healthy levels of cortisol look like again. In this way, licorice root also helps to “reset” the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis which is just another name for healing adrenal fatigue.
Dosage: 100mg an hour before you would normally start to feel “tired” during the day. Can be taken up to three times a day. Licorice root increases blood pressure, so don’t take if you have hypertension.
Maca root is known to increase energy levels, although exactly how is still somewhat unknown. The most widely accepted reason is that it helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, which prevents energy “crashes” throughout the day. It’s also an adaptogen, which means it keeps cortisol levels from spiking or dropping too rapidly when you’re under stress. Some studies also show it may have a stimulating effect on the pituitary gland, of which normal function is necessary for proper thyroid and adrenal function (and therefor regulation of energy levels and metabolism).
Dosage: 500–3000mg/day in divided doses. Best taken before 3pm so as not to invoke insomnia.
Caffeine withdrawal can be rough, but not if you ease your symptoms with other energy boosters such as the ones mentioned above. It’s possible to reverse adrenal fatigue. I’m living proof. And it starts with giving up (or drastically reducing) caffeine.
Happy trails on healing your adrenal fatigue,
Originally published at medium.com