Caffeine is Not Your Friend

November 17, 2012


Makow: For most of my adult life, I drank coffee because I suffered from periods of fatigue. Recently I discovered that coffee was the cause.  I  have stopped drinking it and no longer need to take naps. Caffeine may not affect you negatively but I am posting this review just in case it does.

A Review of Caffeine Blues 
A Book by Stephen Cherniske

(Reviewer is anonymous)

(Edited/abridged by

Okay, I know this article won't be popular. Most of us are so addicted to caffeine that we don't want to know about it. I am writing this because when "Caffeine Blues" came out I just knew I had to read it. 

Several years ago I realized  that coffee was much worse than we had been told, because I noticed that I got an arthritic pain  in my wrist within ten to twenty minutes of a cappuccino!

This book didn't just tell me how bad coffee was - it told me how GOOD I would feel once I was totally caffeine free for two months.For example, I no longer have the drained feeling that I sometimes used to get in the mornings.


Written by Stephen Cherniske,  a Clinical Nutritionist, "Caffeine Blues" is incredibly easy to read, and convincing.  I realized that caffeine does NOT give us energy. In fact, it is a major CAUSE of LACK of energy. 

As Cherniske waded through the tons of information on caffeine, he began to see that consciously or unconsciously nearly every researcher starts from the assumption that caffeine is okay. Why? Probably because they themselves depend on caffeine.

Caffeine is in coffee, black tea, green tea, oolong tea (wu-yi tea), 'decaffeinated' coffee and tea, chocolate, colas, chuppa-chups, many sodas, some drugs, most 'energy' drinks and guarana.

A 6 oz cup of:

  • Percolated coffee has about 120 mg of caffeine
  • Black tea has about 70 mg of caffeine
  • Green tea about 35 mg of caffeine
  • Leading colas 45 mg of caffeine
  • Mountain dew 54 mg of caffeine
  • Brewed decaf has 5 mg of caffeine
  • Milk chocolate has 6 mg per ounce
  • Baking chocolate has 35 mg per ounce.

Caffeine is produced by more than eighty species of plants. The reason may well be survival. As it turns out, caffeine is  used by plants as a pesticide.


Caffeine is considered harmless simply because it is so widely used.  Dr William Dement in his book "The Promise of Sleep" said that if caffeine was introduced today, it would not be allowed.


There is a brochure available in hospitals and other medical related areas: "What you should know about caffeine" published by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) in Washington DC. After many phone calls Cherniske finally got a list of 'supporters' of the IFIC. It included Pepsi, Coca-Cola, M&M, Nutrasweet, Nestle and Hershey - all of whom have caffeine in their drinks and foods. 

'Partners' of the IFIC included groups such as the National Association of Pediatric Nurses and the Children's Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureau Inc. This brochure says that "Caffeine is normally excreted within several hours after consumption". In fact, only 1% is excreted. The remaining 99% has to be detoxified by the liver. I t can take up to 12 hours to detoxify a single cup of coffee.

Many studies regarding coffee and hypertension were flawed, because the test subjects came off coffee for only one or two weeks. It takes many more weeks than this for stress hormone levels of the body to return to normal.

The 'half-life' of a drug is the time it takes the body to remove one half of the dose. Caffeine is a drug. The half-life of a single dose of caffeine ranges from three to TWELVE hours.


Caffeine puts your body into stress. A single 250 milligram dose of caffeine (the equivalent of about 2.5 six ounce cups of coffee) has been shown to increase levels of the stress hormone epinephrine (adrenaline) by over 200%.

Caffeine triggers a classic fight-or-flight reaction designed for events that happened only occasionally (such as a lion chasing you). Now, we put our body in fight-or-flight mode every day with caffeine!!! As a result, sugar and fat get dumped unused in the bloodstream. The sugar creates more stress. The fat clogs the arteries. The digestive system slows or shuts down.

Not only is caffeine addictive, it also encourages addictions to substances like nicotine.


Caffeine does not give you energy. It stimulates your nervous system and adrenals. That's not energy, that's stress. The 'energy' that you think you get from caffeine is really just a loan from the adrenals and liver, and the interest you have to pay is very high.

Stress is a major factor in disorders such as anxiety, insomnia, depression, ulcers, rheumatoid arthritis, headache, hypoglycemia, asthma, herpes, hypertension and heart disease. And yet hospitals provide coffee and tea, which put your body into stress!!!

Caffeine consumption leads to DHEA deficiency .DHEA is our vitality hormone. Decreased levels of DHEA is a cause of aging.   Caffeine is an AGING DRUG!


Caffeine is implicated in ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome: GABA is produced in the intestinal tract, where it calms anxiety and stress. Caffeine disrupts the normal metabolism of GABA.

Caffeine disrupts sleep. Deep sleep is CRITICAL to good health. When there's caffeine in your bloodstream, you are unlikely to experience any deep sleep at all!

Caffeine AT ANY TIME of the day can cause sleep problems, especially if you are under stress.

Malnutrition is one of the most well-defined effects of habitual caffeine intake.

A single cup of coffee can reduce iron absorption from a meal by as much as 75%.

People do not develop a tolerance to the anxiety-producing effects of caffeine. Rather, people simply become accustomed to the feelings of stress, irritability and aggressiveness produced by the drug.

Caffeine contributes to depression in well-defined ways. This is particularly due to the withdrawal effect, which can cause headache, depression and fatigue, even in light users (p. 111).

Cherniske reported that 90% of people who came to him who suffered from depression and gave up caffeine completely for 2 months reported that their depression went away!

Students the world over use caffeine not only to stay awake, but also they believe the drug will improve their performance on exams. Solid research, however, illustrates that as little as 100 milligrams of caffeine (one cup of coffee, two cups of cola) can cause a significant DECREASE in recall and reasoning.

Moderate coffee drinkers with high cholesterol had more than seven times the risk of heart attack, while heavy coffee drinkers had  eighteen times  the risk of non-coffee drinkers!

Caffeine depletes your supplies of thiamin and other B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc. Caffeine increases calcium loss and risk of osteoporosis.

Take the Challenge!  Most people have no idea what life would be like without the background of caffeine and stress hormones coursing through their veins.


Related -  Dr. Sears - Coffee Destroys Your Brain 

Unrelated -  World's Most Expensive Coffee made from Ferret Droppings   

First Comment by James:

As a faithful follower of your blog/articles, I was surprised to see the article favorably reviewing Stephen Cherniske's book "Caffeine Blues". Even with your caveat "may not affect you negatively but I am posting this review just in case it does", it's far too biased against coffee. Particularly since the book was published in 1998, some 14 years ago and prior to about 50 of the studies currently being cited by numerous alternative and mainstream health advocates. Stephen Cherniske is probably not a crack pot, but he didn't have this information available when he wrote the book.

Everyone of us is of course biochemically unique and I certainly don't subscribe to the "if it's good for me it's good for you" school of nutrition or medicine. It is hard to ignore the numerous studies indicating health benefits from coffee. You may be familiar with Dr Mercola a MD who practices alternative medicine has been strongly against coffee for over a decade, but due to mounting evidence has changed his tune. He has one of the best articles summarizing the current state of research.

Additionally you will want to check out Green Med Info (they are kind of like a Pub Med database for natural medicine and nutrition) they presently have 58 studies showing positive health benefits of coffee.

The Life Extension Foundation also has an article summarizing many of the studies showing health benefits of coffee.

And lets not forget Wikipedia. They have a page highlighting both the good & bad effects of drinking coffee.

With the exception of Wikipedia none of these sources can be considered mainstream media or in the pockets of the big pharma or agri-business (i.e. part of the NWO conspiracy) yet they are all convinced by the numerous studies showing health benefits to drinking coffee.

This study is a little weak, but still suggestive:

Note that none of these studies are dealing with cream & sugar, flavorings, etc in the coffee.
In my opinion that is where much of the harm from "coffee" comes from.

Summarizing the health benefits of coffee:
* Protective effect against type 2 diabetes
* May significantly cut your risk of Parkinson's disease
* Helps protect you from Alzheimer's disease
* Lower risk of lethal prostate cancer.
* Coffee drinkers are less likely to suffer symptomatic gallstone disease
Liver Cancer, less severe liver fibrosis, lower levels of fat in your liver, and lower rates of hepatitis-C disease progression.
* May be associated with decreased risk of kidney cancer
* Coffee consumption may lower colon cancer risk among women
* Moderate coffee drinking reduces your chances of being hospitalized for heart rhythm problems.
* 25 percent lower risk of stroke than women who drank coffee.

P.S. I'm not a coffee addict, and in fact I had at one time (back in the 80's) quit it entirely for several years, and I typically have 1 cup a day.

Comments for "Caffeine is Not Your Friend "

Monica said (November 19, 2012):

I feel sorry for all the people justifying their caffeine consumption/addiction. Even drug addicts can use the "in moderation" line! It doesn't change that it isn't healthy for you.

My naturopathic physician says there is nothing wrong with coffee. The problem is that people put it in the wrong end! Yes, he uses it exclusively for colon cleansing enemas! She would never recommend it as a beverage. There are so many other genuinely good things to drink. I guess it all boils down to the ease with which it's available and the "one of the herd" social acceptability attached to it.

Matt said (November 19, 2012):

Thanks for putting the article up about caffeine! I used to always joke "I try to drink at least a pot of coffee a day" But finally equated afternoon sluggishness to my mass coffee drinking. I haven't stopped - but cut back considerably.

I'm ordering the book. And maybe now I'll just quit it completely....

It's a subject totally off of your usual topics. But I appreciate the info.

Stephen Coleman said (November 18, 2012):

I recommend that its best not to use caffeine regularly. It acts upon the brain as cortisone when may cause some dehydration of the brain. This dehydration is useful however, with certain medical conditions.

Withdrawal can cause devastating depression and headaches in some people. The brain overcompensates from the long term dehydration and that doesn't feel pleasant. If you want to quit the caffeine habit, its best to cut down gradually.

Another aspect that I have never seen written about, is all addictive substances (those that cause us to go through withdrawal) do carry over when we pass on. It is much more difficult to overcome these addictions "on the other side".

Doug said (November 18, 2012):

Caffeine is also a diuretic which is something that causes urination, which often leads to dehydration. Drinking a single cup of coffee causes one to urinate 1.5 cups of fluid.

Jim said (November 18, 2012):

I believe that coffee/caffeine is the least of our worries. Yes, some folks would benefit by reducing or totally eliminating their consumption of it but it's not the devil it's portrayed in the article.

The bigger concern is the amount of carbohydrates (corn syrup, sugar, wheat, and other grains), artificial colors, artificial flavors and artificial preservatives that's being consumed. Additionally, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are causing untold damage to our bodies and to the environment.

Your best bet is to eat as much whole, unprocessed foods you can. And eating organically grown foods would be even better...including coffee. It's one of the most heavily sprayed crops out there.

The fewer chemicals we put into our bodies, the better off we will be. That being said, a little caffeine ain't gonna to kill you.

David said (November 18, 2012):

Thanks for the thought-provoking nonpolitical column on caffeine. I'm definitely drinking less coffee (3 cups max in the morning, nothing after 11 am) than I used to, but like so many adults I cannot imagine life without it (first pot of the day is brewing as I write this)! If the research backs up what the author claims, I will make the necessary adjustments as I push 60.

Art said (November 18, 2012):

Until 3 years ago, I would drink at least (12) 12 ounce cans of Coke a day and I did for over 25 years. I managed to quit cold turkey, as I did for smoking a few years prior. I can say for an absolute fact that each and every point made in this article is true. I hadn't been sleeping well and I never realized until I was completely free of caffeine (about 1 month after the last Coke). I was perpetually dehydrated as well.

Reading these comments, I am forced to say that there is a lot of denial going on. Like the article says, caffeine is seen as a necessary part of life and everyone is "on it" in some form or another. It's effects are assumed to be benign because caffeine addicts are always under it's influence, and by their appraisal they get along just fine. Alcoholics talk the same way, don't they? I know it's in nearly everything ... but if a person can just change their normal habits, whether it be coffee, soft drinks, or chocolate for just one month, it will become clear the effects caffeine has been having on your body for so long.

Michele said (November 18, 2012):

I'm always a bit sceptical of articles like this. As a previous commenter says there is usually someone who is exceptionally sensitive to certain foods or environmental factors, but that doesn't mean we have to rush collectively to a perceived solution. One man's meat is another man's poison after all. Moderation in all things is the best advice. I cut down on coffee years ago and now only drink one or two cups a day. With all the other food and environmental factors complicating our daily diets it is extremely difficult to separate out a single food that could be causing a particular reaction, take for example allergy testing, and this does not mean that these results apply to everyone. It would be great to find one single cause of our general malaise, but to my mind this is an oversimplification, it also does not consider the fact that it may be caffeine in conjunction with other foods that may be causing this effect. I had to stop eating cheese sandwiches followed by an orange because that combination would give me a migraine, it took me a little while to figure that one out!

There are books out there that demonize wheat, sugar et al - basically our staple foods - perhaps with some justification because of our overconsumption of such cheap and readily available foods and a lack of balance of eating other foods such as good quality protein and vegetables. I believe also that in some cultures you adapt to foods generally available, so that someone from a predominantly rice-based culture suddenly eating more wheat-based foods may find it difficult to adapt; dairy foods are another example. So many factors have to be taken into consideration.

One food that I have discovered that gives me energy and is useful both internally and externally is coconut oil! It's useful as an antifungal and a moisturiser too. But it can cause nausea as well so I only take a teaspoonful and never before going to bed. But that is only my personal experience!

Anon said (November 18, 2012):

Stress has many sources. In our psychopath paradise culture, caffeine doesn't rank in the top hundred.

Tony said (November 18, 2012):

If the report is accurate, the book is not totally accurate because it is overly simplistic. For all those horrible scare situations to kick in for the average person they would have to certainly overdo caffeine intake. Yes, some people are going to be extremely sensitive to it as there will be some people sensitive to almost anything.

Yet caffeine does some good things for the body also, as does almost everything in nature. Remember the apricot pits which the U.S. government outlawed as a cancer cure because they naturally have a tiny amount of cyanide in them. Regardless of the cyanide - or more likely because of it - those pits DO cure some kinds of cancers. What is seldom considered is the overall mix of components in the pit which naturally work together. Some food supplements use a bit of natural caffeine where it has proved beneficial in the mix.

I had a neighbor when I lived in Idaho, a retired farmer who occasionally invited my wife and me over for coffee in the morning with him and his wife. His philosophy on coffee was that one cup a day was medicine, more than that poison. I tend to agree. It comes back to the ancient tried and true adage: All things to moderation.

Unfortunately, most people today have no concept of the meaning of that word. On either side of an issue which requires moderation.

Jesper said (November 18, 2012):

Despite being a coffee drinker myself, I am quite open to the argument set forth in the article. However, for the sake of information, I thought I´d draw attention to an article recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine in which caffeine is referred to as “wonder drug”.
Here is a short introduction:

“The best part of waking reducing your risk of neurodegeneration. And depression, and cancer, and cardiovascular disease... It's becoming increasingly clear that coffee is more than just a morning routine. The body of data suggesting that the world's most widely used stimulant is beneficial in a variety of mental and medical conditions is growing at a staggering rate. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that coffee consumption lowered all-cause mortality by over 10% at 13-year follow-up. Based primarily on recent Medscape Medical News coverage, the slideshow [can only be viewed by signing in] reviews the potential medical and psychiatric benefits of coffee consumption.”

Andrew said (November 18, 2012):

Nice essay on coffee, Henry. It's a problem for many people.

But for people with a normal insulin response to sugar, there is nothing wrong with a cup of coffee in the morning or afternoon. In other words, if you don't have diabetes you can safely drink coffee. The problem is that TV marketing is addicting people to coffee, sugar and cream. And they drink too much. One coffee franchise sells sugar/coffee concoctions that are formulated to be addictive. But drink your coffee without sugar and you won't drink too much. It's too bitter.

Personally I drink tea in the morning because tea contains much less caffeine but it also contains L-theanine which has a calming effect without tampering with your blood sugar. Theanine is credited with counterbalancing caffeine’s stimulating effect by inducing relaxation, although researchers can't yet determine the biochemical mechanism by which theanine produces this anxiety-reducing effect. They speculate that it alter levels of two important mood-regulating neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin.

I also drink my tea without sugar which moderates my tea consumption too.

Addiction is the problem; not coffee per se.

Henry Makow received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto in 1982. He welcomes your comments at