Decaf coffee found to reduce effects of caffeine withdrawal
If you've ever tried quitting caffeinated coffee, you may have encountered side effects such as headaches, irritability and fatigue. A new study suggests that drinking decaffeinated coffee can reduce those effects … even if you know it's just decaf.
Led by Dr. Llew Mills, a team of scientists at the University of Sydney started with a group of 61 "heavy coffee drinkers," all of whom regularly consumed at least three cups of caffeinated coffee per day.
After going without any coffee for 24 hours, those people had their withdrawal symptoms measured. They were then divided into three groups: one was given water to drink, one was given decaf and told that it was decaf, and one was given decaf and told that it was regular caffeinated coffee – in other words, they were lied to.
When asked to rate their withdrawal symptoms 45 minutes later, the lied-to group reported the most pronounced reduction, presumably due to the placebo effect. That said, the group that knew they were drinking decaf still reported a significantly larger reduction than the water group.
This phenomenon, called the open-label placebo effect, occurs when something that is known to be a placebo still produces beneficial placebo-like effects. In the case of the known-to-be-decaf coffee, the scientists believe that after years of associating the taste and smell of coffee with a reduction in withdrawal symptoms, the test subjects had become conditioned to still experience a bit of that reduction – even though they weren't expecting it.
While the open-label placebo effect wouldn't be a long-term solution to caffeine withdrawal, Mills believes that it could help coffee-quitters ride out the worst of their cravings by having a cup of decaf. The team's findings could conceivably also be applied to the treatment of other types of chemical addictions.
"This study shows cognitive factors like what you expect, and how much of a drug you think you have in your body, have a big effect on how you experience withdrawal symptoms," said Mills. "We did this study to model some of the processes involved in addiction to any drug, including more serious, or harmful, drugs. What we found has some promise for developing new treatments for addiction that integrate placebo effects."
The research is described in a paper that was recently published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
Source: University of Sydney
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Some of those other substances may help with withdrawal relief too?
Maybe try adding to the study a hot water and decaf pills group to test for this?
A few times since I have accidentally had caffeine and even just one cup of coffee leaves you feeling rough for about 3 days. It is really very surprising how strong it is and just how much it affects you.
Now when people say they "Need" coffee just to function I understand, It is an addiction and the withdrawal keeps you drinking.
I would never have stopped if not for getting ill, however I will say I do much better without, better sleep and I am awake all day, no more afternoon slump. My energy levels are steady though the day without any peaks and troughs and I feel like I cope better in general, lower stress. So I am glad I did stop.