How We Became Coffee Free!

I've wanted to give up coffee for, well, over 4 years now (since I got pregnant the first time) and it hasn't happened for longer than a few months at a time.  For my first pregnancy I made it through the first trimester without coffee, then in my second pregnancy it gave me the jitters so I stopped then too, only to start back up after my son was born.  But I've always felt that I wasn't awake in the morning until I'd had a cup or three, even after being off caffeine for a few weeks.

When I posted about my 'nap substitute' iced coffee Ann Marie had commented about DLPA, an amino acid supplement that helped her to stop the caffeine.  I was intrigued, but skeptical. I really depended on my coffee in the morning!  

I looked into amino acids as supplements, because I hadn't heard of those before.  I was concerned that they might just be doing the same thing as caffeine, but they seem to correct an imbalance within the body rather than force adrenaline out like caffeine does.  DLPA also has very few side effects for the dose I was going to try.  As I've talked about, I'm not a supplement person, I think it's too common in our society for us to ignore the roots of problem, and just try popping a bunch of pills to cure our problems.  But for some things, herbs, supplements, probiotics, etc have their place.

I decided that this was worth a try.  Some more information:

D, L-Phenylalanine (DLPA) is used by the brain to produce norepinephrine (our brains' version of adrenaline), a neurotransmitter depleted by stress, caffeine, nicotine, pollution, and some pharmacological and recreational drugs. Source

When you’re low on dopamine, you feel dull, unmotivated and tired. Nothing seems very interesting. When left to yourself you might sit in the same spot for hours. This can feel terrible! 

Fortunately, there’s a simple way to boost dopamine levels. The amino acids L-tyrosine and DL-phenylalanine (DLPA) are your body's natural dopamine precursors. When you take L-tyrosine and DLPA as supplements, your body converts them into dopamine, and your alertness and energy level get a boost.  Source

Caffeine gives us a temporary lift by sending norepinephrine into the blood stream.  Over time, healthy levels of norepinephrine are depleted by caffeine and other factors mentioned above ... if not replaced.   Phenylalanine does a great job replacing this major neurotransmitter. Source

DLPA looks like it also helps with chronic pain and depression, so it's not just for withdrawing from caffeine.

I tried it first, and was able to quit coffee immediately without any withdrawal symptoms. I felt like I got better sleep, and woke up ready to go in the morning with more energy than usual, and a longer attention span than usual.  This was about 3 weeks ago now, and I've had half a mug of coffee a couple times, but haven't become addicted at all.  The DLPA itself doesn't seem to be habit forming, I skip most days now and only take it if I start to feel like I 'need' something to wake me up.

This past weekend I finally convinced my husband to try giving up caffeine with DLPA "for my blog" and he has been amazed at how his sleep quality has improved and that he has more energy too. He did go one day without coffee and had no headache or anything (we normally would have to have caffeine in the morning to avoid a headache) but after that one day he decided that he'll keep drinking coffee in the morning.  He has been taking the DLPA every other day or so, though, because he likes how it gives him more energy and better sleep. And it's not the nervous caffeine-induced kind of energy, it's the kind of energy you have after you had a great night's sleep and you're excited to do whatever needs to be done that day.  He wakes up at 5 or so, and is all productive before going to work- before he'd roll out of bed at the last possible minute and rush rush rush to get out the door at 6:30.

This is what we're taking- it's what they had available at our health food store (it's way cheaper on Amazon) Solar Ray DLPA

And Ann Marie's post about her experiences using DLPA to stop drinking coffee too.

I'm still amazed at how well this works, it's almost like it's too good to be true.  I can't seem to find any side effects recorded unless someone is taking about 20 x the dose I have been (I've been taking one 500 mg pill a day, not even every day).  I am still breastfeeding my toddler, and I'm comfortable taking this with him, though I most likely would avoid during pregnancy and while nursing a newborn, but I'd have to research more before deciding (as a default most supplements will say to avoid while pregnant or breastfeeding, though that's not always necessary).

Are you addicted to caffeine and want to stop?

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