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ANSWERED on Mon 30 Jul 2007 - 7:35 pm UTC by pinkfreud

Question: reducing caffeine tolerance

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 29 Jul 2007 23:26 UTCSun 29 Jul 2007 - 11:26 pm UTC 

My guess is that there is no way to reduce caffeine tolerance other than to simply stop ingesting it for a while. Is that true? It sure would be nice if there was some other substance that prevented tolerance of caffeine.

If there is no way to prevent tolerance, is there some sort of algorithm for how many days it takes before tolerance goes away? If I have 3 cans of Mountain Dew a day and then stop drinking any caffeinated beverages at all, how many days until Mountain Dew will have near its maximum effect again?




 30 Jul 2007 06:19 UTCMon 30 Jul 2007 - 6:19 am UTC 

I'm no Doctor and not even a Researcher but ...

I understand that many folks are locked into a vicious circle of nicotine-caffeine-alcohol addiction.

Are you?




 30 Jul 2007 11:11 UTCMon 30 Jul 2007 - 11:11 am UTC 

Hmmm, when I was growing up, mountain dew didn't have any caffeine  -
but did belong in one of Probo's other addiction categories.
(Never tried it, but I did once stumble upon a moonshine still.)

You might look at this list of the caffeine contents of many bottled/can drinks, and down towards the end, coffees and teas (note: these latter are for 8 oz. portions, which is more than a coffee or tea cup).


Personally, as a drinker of strong tea and coffee, I can't imagine noticing any caffeine effect from soft drinks.  You could move up to Jolt or Red Bull, or maybe stir some instant coffee in your Mountain Dew.

Good luck, Myoarin




 30 Jul 2007 19:35 UTCMon 30 Jul 2007 - 7:35 pm UTC 

As a sporadic user of caffeine, I found this to be an interesting question to research. Most studies show that tolerance to caffeine develops in two to seven days, and dissipates in approximately the same amount of time. Caffeine tolerance comes and goes at its own pace for each person, and I have found no evidence that there is any reliable way to shortcut this.

"As with the development of tolerance to most drugs, the degree of tolerance development to caffeine can be expected to depend on the caffeine dose, the dose frequency, the number of doses, and the individual's elimination rate... There is some indication that the rate and/or extent of tolerance development differ across different measures. The rate of tolerance development has been estimated to be quite rapid for blood pressure [t1/2 = 1 hr (97)], with complete tolerance to various cardiovascular effects occurring in 2-5 days...

The caffeine withdrawal syndrome follows an orderly time course... Onset has been usually reported to occur 12-24 hr after terminating caffeine intake, although onset as late as 36 hr has been documented... Peak withdrawal intensity has generally been described as occurring 20-48 hr after abstinence. The duration of caffeine withdrawal has most often been described as ranging between 2 days and 1 week, although longer durations have been occasionally noted."

Caffeine : A Drug of Abuse?

"Typically, onset of [withdrawal] symptoms occurred 12-24 h after abstinence, with peak intensity at 20-51 h, and for a duration of 2-9 days. In general, the incidence or severity of symptoms increased with increases in daily dose; abstinence from doses as low as 100 mg/day produced symptoms."

A critical review of caffeine withdrawal

"Four double-blind experiments were conducted in independent groups of healthy participants to assess the conditions under which withdrawal symptoms occur upon cessation of low to moderate doses of caffeine. In experiment 1, there was no evidence that the range or magnitude of caffeine withdrawal symptoms differed when 300 mg of caffeine was consumed as a single dose in the morning versus 100 mg at three time points across the day. In experiment 2, both the range and severity of withdrawal increased as a function of caffeine maintenance dose (100, 300, and 600 mg/day), with even the lowest dose (100 mg) producing significant caffeine withdrawal. Experiment 3 showed that when individuals were maintained on 300 mg caffeine/day and tested with a range of lower doses (200, 100, 50, 25, and 0 mg/day), a substantial reduction in caffeine consumption (100 mg/day) was necessary for the manifestation of caffeine withdrawal. Experiment 4 manipulated duration of exposure to caffeine (1, 3, 7, or 14 days of 300 mg/day) and showed that caffeine withdrawal occurred after as little as 3 days of caffeine exposure, with a somewhat increased severity of withdrawal observed after 7 or 14 days of exposure."

Caffeine Withdrawal: A Parametric Analysis of Caffeine Dosing Conditions


If you are enamored of Mountain Dew, and don't want to drink the non-caffeinated version, my best suggestion is that you try to eliminate caffeine from other aspects of your life. This will lessen your total intake of caffeine, and you may be able to maintain your Mountain Dew consumption at a satisfactory level without wrestling with tolerance and withdrawal.

Here's a chart of beverages, foods, and medications with their caffeine content:

Erowid Caffeine Vault: Content in Beverages

This may be of interest to you:

"If you feel that you are psychologically or physically dependent on caffeine... Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine would like to talk with you. Free assistance to quit or reduce your caffeine consumption may be available."


This is the search string that brought me the best results:

Google Scholar: caffeine tolerance OR withdrawal days

For more "pop" sources, this search string may be useful:

Google Web Search: kicking OR breaking caffeine

I hope this helps!

Best regards,


Roger Browne 


 30 Jul 2007 22:13 UTCMon 30 Jul 2007 - 10:13 pm UTC 

Hi happyengineer,

Am I reading the question right? You don't actually want to kick the caffeine habit, you just want to adjust your consumption pattern so that you can get the full "benefit" of the caffeine that you do consume?

I was surprised to read that just 2 to 7 days is enough to develop tolerance, or to lose tolerance. I wonder, therefore, if some kind of weekly rhythm might do the trick?

Consume caffeine during working days, perhaps, then abstain over the weekend. Then, by the time Monday rolls around again, the caffeine is "working" again.

The downside of this is if you get withdrawal symptoms (headaches etc). However, multiple studies have shown that you only need to consume a small amount of caffeine to mitigate the symptoms. So maybe a rhythm of Mountain Dew during the week, then decaf drinks over the weekend but with the occasional square of chocolate, would do the job?





 31 Jul 2007 03:42 UTCTue 31 Jul 2007 - 3:42 am UTC 

Ah, Mountain Dew-- my own kryptonite.

One of my first jobs as a teen was at a chain that sold pizzas, with a name that implied they were distributed from a shack of some sort. This chain had recently been acquired by Pepsico and thus carried Mountain Dew,

I had little interest in soda or coffee then-- I was an occasional tea drinker at canasta games with neighbors (my goodness, I was a dorky kid)-- but I got to enjoy the "lift" Mountain Dew provided. As summer progressed and I worked more hours to save for a car, I got to rely on that chartreuse siren for a daily pick-me-up. But it wasn't enough.

I discovered I could draw up a Mountain Dew and then open the fountain dispenser up to tickle the syrup dispenser into adding a bit more sweet nectar. All was right with the world as I embarked on a sugar-fueled odyssey of exploration into the limits of brix and carbon dioxide.

Not too many days later I was off after several weeks of early mornings and late evenings of overtime. I could relax and enjoy a day to myself.

I was up at 7AM and prowling around outside by 8. I had no idea why I felt so agitated and... "itchy" until I decided I didn't really want the day off. I would go into work and find something to do. After all, the roof shingles had not been inspected in several weeks and there had been a few nasty storms. The attic storage area needed to be straightened up and the HVAC filters were just about due for changing. Nobody had checked the function of the rear motion sensors and the walk-in refrigerator's drain pipe was probably mucky and needed attention. I could get a Mountain Dew first and then get started on things. In fact, if I had a Mountain Dew... I could really just let most of the stuff slide.

I realized then that I had it bad. The next time I had a Mountain Dew was 16 years later. It was on sale and it took ten of them to convince me that i couldn't tickle this neon green tiger safely. I thought about switching to Mountain Dew Code Red but knew that down that pathway only destruction and devastation lurked; waking up behind a well-known convenience store franchise with a melted cup of Darth Dew and a naked GI Joe doll. Not again, nope.

So I've been clean of that (usually green) monster ever since, and I hope to stay that way.




 2 Aug 2007 07:22 UTCThu 2 Aug 2007 - 7:22 am UTC 

I hate Mountain Eeeeewwww, but love (diet) soda. I've cut back on my consumption, due to carb, aspartame (sp?), and mostly, caffeine concerns.

I recently discovered a great line of sodas called "Waist Watchers." It's made with Splenda, and has zero carbs, sodium, and caffeine. Even their Diet Cola and Diet Black Cherry are caffeine-free.

Dieters take note: when you have a craving for sweets, drink a can of Waist Watcher's Diet Vanilla Cream soda. It's delicious! It's sweet w/o being sickengly so, and will curb your sugar cravings.

Getting back on topic, over the last few years I've worked hard on cutting my caffeine consumption. I've never been a big coffee drinker (just half a cup in the morning), but needed at least two, sometimes three, diet colas for enough caffeine to get through the afternoon. I realized I had to cut back on soda and caffeine.

When I first began cutting back on the afternoon cola, I wanted to sleep all afternoon. I found taking 1,000 mgs of L-Carnitine with lunch, and not eating any refined or simple carbs at lunch (I usually eat a chef's salad, or tuna salad w/o bread) helped keep my energy levels fairly strong and steady.


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