Although there is an abundance of health benefits from coffee, we can’t ignore the side effects of caffeine. Too much caffeine can result in the “jitters” for some individuals.  Some people consider coffee to be a health drink, but like most foods, overindulging can cause side effects.

Caffeine acts as a central nervous system stimulant.  When it reaches your brain, the most noticeable effect is alertness. You’ll feel more awake and less tired. Many people use this effect of caffeine to benefit them by helping them to get through their fast-paced day. This is ok as a short term coping mechanism, however, it can cause some addictive tendencies where people rely on the Yang (stimulating) effects to potentiate productivity!  For some people, caffeine may help with concentration and provide an energy boost.

For those, however with general anxiety disorders (anxiety, nervousness), caffeine becomes problematic.  Long term nervousness and anxiety depletes adrenal supplies (innate energy production) and the body pushes itself into a Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) dominance situation.  This occurs because in the heightened nervous state the body overproduces adrenaline, cortisol and other stress hormones. Eventually, this causes the adrenal glands, the front line in the stress reaction, to show wear and tear and become depleted.

Throw one or two daily caffeine drinks at a sensitive constitution and it won’t be long until the person becomes frayed at the edges.  Symptoms may manifest as:

  • Long term anxiety
  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Overstimulation and insomnia
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headaches and sweating
  • Tremors and agitation
  • Gastrointestinal complaints
  • High or low blood pressure

Nervous system integrity relies on a balance between regulation of the Parasympathetic (rest and digest) and the Sympathetic Nervous system (fight and flight).  When there is constant overstimulation of the SNS due to stress, lifestyle, caffeine, sugar and the inability to relax, meditate or work out excess stress hormones through exercise – the effect becomes draining on the adrenals and nervous system. Consequently a person will feel these effects over time and the added caffeine in their diet can result in the exacerbation of symptoms, increased stress hormone production and a sense of poor wellbeing or ungroundedness.