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Caffeine: Benefits, Negatives, and Healthy Alternatives

January 04, 2018

Caffeine is America’s favorite stimulant. 54% of all Americans over 18 drink coffee every day.

90% of us use caffeine in one of its other forms (like chocolate, energy drinks, or tea.)

While we know there are drawbacks to using caffeine in higher amounts, caffeine does have some benefits when used in moderation.

Some Praise for Caffeine

Over the short term, a little caffeine works as an energy booster, improving focus and performance.

Caffeine also helps athletes and fitness enthusiasts by improving workout capacity and reducing recovery time.

A study in the Journal of Pain found drinking 2 cups of coffee before a workout decreased next day soreness by 48%.

Furthermore, caffeine can speed weight loss by enhancing fat burning and lowering appetite.

Newer research finds coffee consumption may decrease the risk of gallstones and Parkinson’s disease. Coffee appears to stimulate gallbladder activity and, as an antioxidant, has a protective effect on brain cells.

For people with migraines or tension headaches, caffeine can decrease pain by causing blood vessels to constrict.

(Note: Some headaches are worsened by caffeine! It does not work for everyone.)

Caffeine is also good to get your blood moving, which can be useful (short term) for people with low blood pressure or poor circulation.

The Drawbacks of Excessive Caffeine

Unfortunately today many people abuse caffeine, using high doses every day, which can be disruptive to health.

Too much caffeine exhausts the adrenal glands, leads to anxiety and insomnia, and increases miscarriage risk.

Caffeine can also clearly aggravate gastrointestinal problems by increasing gastric acidity (think acid reflux) and colon spasms (think Irritable Bowel Syndrome).

Caffeine overuse wreaks havoc on hormonal balance for women. Excess caffeine increases estrogen production. It can be a trigger for breast and uterine fibroids, PMS, and hot flashes.

Caffeine may also affect testosterone in men, but more research needs to be done to determine the scope of its effect.

Caffeine also imbalances blood sugar levels, and can increase osteoporosis risk by depleting calcium in the body.

A Moderate, Healthy Lifestyle is the Key

For your best health, I recommend sticking to just 1 cup of a caffeinated beverage daily or trying a healthier alternative. Many herbs can give you a quick energy boost without the drawbacks of caffeine.

Furthermore, you really don’t need caffeine to deal with the health problems that it’s currently being studied for.  A few examples:

  • Herbal liver tonics like burdock and dandelion root support proper bile flow, and can make a big difference if your gallbladder is sluggish or needs support.
  • Some of the benefits attributed to caffeine-containing coffee really belong to antioxidants in general. Coffee beans have potent antioxidant activity, but so do most ordinary fruits and vegetables. And, they do not increase anxiety, insomnia, or risk for miscarriage.
  • Herbal pain relievers like white willow and turmeric are a good choice if you suffer from headaches.
  • Poor circulation and low blood pressure are easily improved with circulation enhancing herbs like licorice, ginkgo biloba, or ginger.

Healthy Alternatives to Caffeine

For a quick boost of energy, add maca root powder to smoothies. Maca root is a true superfood for vibrant energy. It’s exceptionally high in vitamins and minerals that restore vitality.

Just add 1 tsp. of a high quality maca powder to juice, smoothies, or yogurt. Gelatinized maca root powder is easy to digest and a good choice for a quick, healthy energy boost.

Try a caffeine-free, stimulant-free formula like Innergy. Innergy contains herbs like schisandra, maca, rhodiola and American ginseng which support the body in creating natural energy.

I find Innergy is a great choice for people who want to exercise but feel too tired. A major bonus is that Innergy’s benefits increase over time. Take it 30 minutes to an hour before breakfast for the best results.

Find Your Own Healthy Balance

As with most things in life, caffeine is not 100% bad. A small amount of caffeine offers some benefits.

Yet, I believe there are better choices that offer more health benefits and less risks. Your energy has a lot to do with your health, spiritual balance, and hormone status.

Addressing these areas with natural therapies will make a more profound difference in your daily vitality than using caffeine.

You may find you really don’t need caffeine at all. Some people report they have even more energy when they stop using it.


Beaven, C.M., Hopkins, W.G., Hansen, K.T., Wood, M.R., Cronin, J.B., & Lowe, T.E. (2008, April). Dose effect of caffeine on testosterone and cortisol responses to resistance exercise. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism; 18(2):131-41. Retrieved from
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Fahmy, S. (2007, Jan.) UGA study finds that caffeine cuts post-workout pain by nearly 50 percent.
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Williams, D. (2015, June) My natural treatments and remedies for a bad gallbladder. Retrieved from