Kicking the Caffeine Habit

How We Became Coffee Free!

Last modified on 2011-09-04 14:32:40 GMT. 29 comments. Top.

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 we tried DLPA to quit coffee, and were amazed that we avoided the caffeine withdrawl headache and even had a steady supply of energy all day long. 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.

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?



  1. John Furr says

    I have also found DLPA to have similar effects.

    Long term coffee drinkers suffere form a depletion of dopamine producing neurons. It can take a very long time for our brain to regenerate those neurons. This can lead to depression from lack of dopamine (or caffeine).

    I’d skip Tyrosine and just use DLPA though. L-Phenylalanine will get converted into both Dopamine and Norepiniephire. The D isomer will get converted to phenthylamine which also helps with mood and energy.

  2. Lois says

    Interesting reading. I can’t do anything without caffeine in the morning.

    If DPLA does increase dopamine production, it’s important to be aware that dopamine is the major prolactin-inhibiting factor and may well have a negative impact on the milk production especially in mothers who are breastfeeding exclusively.

  3. Jen says

    Interesting read.. Thank You for the insight, and THANK YOU Lois for your tip about exclusively breastfeeding mama’s..

  4. Stacy says

    I had to kick all my caffeine habits because it was making my brests sore. I went through horrible headaches and everything. I was addicted to McCafe’s Sugar Free Vanilla Iced Coffe, Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi and Diet Sunkist (which surprisingly is loaded with caffeine). I would like to try DLPA because I just stopped taking Anxiety meds a couple of weeks ago and have been looking for more natural ways to manage anxiety and stress because I got laid off in January.

  5. Sarah says

    I read this yesterday, and it just occurred to me this morning that phenylalanine is the sweetener in diet soda. I also read somewhere on this blog where you had to give up Diet Pepsi for pregnancy, and I had the same problem where the regular soda wasn’t as good for some reason. That must be it. They found a way to put the cocaine back in Coke without anyone knowing it.

    • Cara says

      That’s really interesting and might be true! Though when I quit coffee I had no problem discontinuing DLPA in a few days, I bet the version in diet coke is different.

    • Cara says

      Hi DeDe, I’ll admit I started drinking coffee again- though it wasn’t because I ‘needed’ it because I was addicted, but more because I had some life stuff come up where I had to exist on less sleep than my body required… and coffee does work for that.

  6. Heather says

    I tried taking amino acid supplements without much success. It was expensive and complicated trying to keep up with which things to take when and so on, so I gave it up and went back to coffee. Fast forward a few years, and despite eating a WAPF diet, I’m having big health troubles. Finally I learn about adrenal fatigue and burnout. One of the biggest symptoms is needing caffeine to wake up, get going, and keep going through the day. Also, craving sweets for an energy boost (even foods containing maple syrup, rapadura, potatoes, etc.). Alcohol is another substance that people with adrenal fatigue may crave. I researched the internet and checked out books about adrenal fatigue from the library.
    I kept using caffeine to compensate for lack of sleep (raising and homeschooling 3 children, moving to a new state, and all of those other life circumstances!). Creating and following my own adrenal healing plan has helped more than anything else I’ve tried. Slowly I weaned to organic decaf (this took almost a year for me) and went totally coffee free 3 months ago. Using an “herbal coffee” called teeccino (I think that’s the right spelling) really helped. Maybe sharing my experience might help someone else. Best wishes to all!

  7. says

    People are reporting that Velvet Bean (Mucuna Pruriens) also works well to provide the body with dopamine. Although my research suggests that a safer route may be to supplement with Tyrosine first. The Velvet Bean extract contains 15% L-DOPA which some people are reporting has thrown them for sort of a loop initially.

    This is exactly the kind of thing to talk to a healthcare practicioner about, to possibly get yourself on a regimen that can help you kick the caffeine habit for good. There seems to be so many great things in nature that can help us. I’ve found that Astragalus, Horny Goat Weed, Tribulus, and protein drinks have helped to keep me fairly healthy. And I’m going to be trying Velvet Bean or Tyrosine, I just haven’t decided which yet. Either way, I’m finding that these things are helping me to stay healthy and happy WITHOUT COFFEE! YEAAAAAA!

    But yes, coffee certainly does deplete your body of dopamine after a long time, which is why so many people feel the “burned out” feeling, I would guess.

    Take care everyone and best wishes to all,


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