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Caffeine and "Decaf"

Many health-conscious people insist on "decaf." But knowledgeable gardeners will tell you not to pour decaffeinated coffee or tea onto your plants and not to use decaffeinated grounds or tea bags. Why? Because the decaffeination process uses formaldehyde, and there's a residual in the resulting beverage. Thus, you can generally refer to "decaffeinated" beverages as "formaldehyde-enriched."

Formaldehyde is not a health food. It's a poison. It kills plants, and it does a great deal of damage inside the human body. So, you don't want to be drinking it. Period.

Please note that sodas--whether caffeinated or not--are too toxic for human consumption. They aren't just osteoporosis in a can, they are also esophageal cancer in a can. If you don't know the facts about sodas, read this article. Doing so may be the best use you've ever made of 5 minutes. Yeah, we know Pepsi will never sponsor an ad on this site. But your health is more important to us.

There are two alternatives to "decaf," and those are non-decaffeinated and naturally decaffeinated.

Let's look at that latter one, first. There's no official definition for "naturally decaffeinated," so approach this label with care. Sometimes, it means next to nothing--it's just a gimmick. It usually means the method did not involve formaldehyde or other harsh chemicals. You will need to contact the company that produces the product to know for sure. The first companies to come out with this label were sincere about it. But others have copied the message without implementing the intent.

Now, let's turn to caffeine. This is a stimulant, and it can be very useful. Caffeine in itself is not bad. You must recognize it for what it is, though. While it has many benefits, it's not 100% benign. All things have a cost associated with them, and caffeine is no exception.

Every individual handles caffeine differently. For some people, a single cup of coffee in the morning will give them the jitters and have them up all night. Other people can down 5 cups and be perfectly calm. If you don't normally drink caffeinated beverages, it's very likely you won't handle caffeine well. Introduce this substance to your diet carefully, not all at once.

More about caffeine, below


Caffeine Benefits

  • Morning wake-up. Humans generally have a slow, lumbering wake-up cycle. If you don't feel fully engaged a couple of hours after you wake up, drinking coffee at breakfast can easily mean the difference between a productive day and never arriving at work.
  • Calorie burning. Caffeine is the main ingredient in many "diet pills." It boost metabolism, thereby causing the body to burn more calories.
  • Overcoming jet lag. Going to a different time zone? A cup of coffee or tea can help you make jet lag unnoticeable. Most hotels have coffee and tea service in the room for this very reason.
  • Overcoming mandated stupidity. Twice a year, the United States goes through an insane, death-producing, costly ritual of changing the clocks. When Daylight Wasting Time begins in the spring, people lose an hour of daylight in the morning. They also lose an hour of sleep. Caffeine can help you get through this. In the fall, the clocks move back, thereby gaining back that lost hour of daylight in the AM. But, it's another clock change and the body's own clock goes out of synch once again. With each of these clock changes, industrial accidents spike during the following three weeks and we see a surge of automobile fatalities. This changing of the clocks is apparently Congress' idea of population control. Caffeine can help you from being one of the "reduced ones."
  • General alertness. Truckers have long known the value of caffeine for keeping them from nodding off. They take caffeine pills, in addition to drinking coffee and tea. If you need heightened alertness, a dose of caffeine may be just the thing. Taking an exam, engaging in a risky sport, and preparing for a tax audit all come to mind. But remember, nothing beats getting a good night's sleep on a regular basis.


Caffeine cautions

  • Diuretic effect. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it causes your body to expel water. This can lead to dehydration, low blood pressure, and other problems.
  • Vasoconstriction. Excess caffeine intake can cause severe headaches, distorted vision, and other effects stemming from constriction of blood vessels.
  • Caffeine dependency. Some people need the morning wake-up because they are conditioned to need it. People who take in high levels of caffeine often find they can't function without it. But they also have impaired function while on it. The only way off this vicious treadmill is to go on a caffeine withdrawal program.
  • Hormonal interference. If you have hormonal issues, doctors will look at your caffeine intake--from all sources.
  • Complementary drugs. At one time, coffee was associated with cigarettes. So, people who did one drug tended to do the other. Today, this is not the case in most of the USA. But the phallic obsession that is smoking still has millions of people in its deadly grip.
  • Excessive heart rate possible. Caffeine causes your body's systems to run faster. Runaway caffeine intake can result in a runaway heart rate.

Huge caffeine caution

When you hear a health expert say, "Caffeine won't hurt you," there are three underlying assumption that person is making:

  1. You don't have a medical condition that contraindicates consuming caffeine.
  2. You aren't taking other stimulants as well (e.g., diet pills or decongestants).
  3. You are getting caffeine from "normal sources."

On this last point, it's critical to understand something. The amount of caffeine in beverages such as coffee and tea is well within a healthy person's ability to handle, assuming the first two assumptions are met and you're consuming "normal" quantities and not just before bedtime.

But several products, marketed mostly at young people, contain outsized doses of caffeine. That much caffeine causes all sorts of problems, including profound adrenal dysfunction. If you "need" that much caffeine so you can concentrate or "have energy," you have other problems. Self-medicating with overdoses of caffeine is masking those problems. Do not take this self-injuring approach. Do not fool yourself into believing that you know what you're doing or have the situation under control.

If you are in this situation, the most likely problem is you aren't getting enough sleep. But you might have any of a number of causes from malnutrition to a brain tumor. See a doctor and then get a second opinion and a third opinion until you can formulate a sensible, drug-free plan to get yourself off this particular treadmill.


This article just scratches the surface. Remember, caffeine is not a villain. It is a useful drug that can be easily abused. It's a stimulant, and overstimulating--or stimulating at the wrong time--is dangerous. Be sure you are aware of all the stimulants you are taking along with caffeine. And that includes emotional stimulants such as extreme sports, watching scary movies, or dealing with the IRS.



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