People might want to quit coffee for any number of reasons: bladder irritation, the jitters, or a belief that it might be putting their health at risk.
Whatever your reason is, there could be one thing holding you back: the fear of caffeine withdrawal.
Withdrawal is uncomfortable and challenging. Symptoms range from headaches to irritability and fatigue to bad moods. It makes cutting back on coffee tough and, for some, unsustainable.
But new research suggests an effective tool to help: decaf.
Researchers from the University of Sydney School of Addiction Medicine in Australia found that people experienced fewer withdrawal symptoms when they drank decaf.
The study involved 61 people who said they consumed three or more cups of coffee every day. Each went caffeine-free for 24 hours, and withdrawal symptoms were measured.
Participants were then separated into three groups: one was given decaf unknowingly, one was told they were drinking decaf, and the third was given water. Forty-five minutes after consumption, withdrawal symptoms were measured again.
The group that unknowingly drank decaf reported the biggest drop in withdrawal symptoms, even though there was no pharmacological reason why it should have that effect. It was simply the belief that they were drinking real coffee, known as the placebo.
Surprisingly, there was a big drop in symptoms from the people who knew they were drinking decaf, as well. The water group, however, did not report a reduction in symptoms.
Perhaps the smell, taste, and ritual of drinking the decaf coffee was enough to quell caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
It’s possible that a cup of decaf may help a person ride out the worst withdrawal symptoms as they work towards becoming caffeine free.
To get the biggest benefits, avoid loading up your decaf with syrups, sugars, and creams, which can present various health risks.