Coffee, tea & buzz beverages: to stimulate or not to stimulate

Caffeine jitters? Feel drained after coffee?

This can signal a deficiency of minerals and/or B Vitamins.

If you notice your response to caffeinated or otherwise stimulating beverages or herbs has changed and now you are feeling deflated, fatigued or some form of ‘ugh’ after they hit your system, consider that you may be short on minerals like these …

Minerals are important for nerve and brain function and are flushed out by diuretic stimulants and alcohol.

Minerals are more important than vitamins and are the most common nutritional deficiences that negative affect the nerve/energy systems.

B Vitamins are essential to your nervous system being able to make proper use of stimulants.

If you notice your response to caffeinated or otherwise stimulating beverages or herbs has changed and now you are feeling deflated, fatigued or some form of ‘ugh’ after they hit your system, consider that you may be short on B Vitamins.

B Vitamin Complex helped solve my issues with my body either not responding to stimulants, feeling deflated or fatigued after them or feeling over-stimulated, as with the caffeine jitters.

B Vitamins are absolutely essential for maintaining a healhty nervous system. They are often a great first choice for a nutrient depleted person who is experiencing exhaustion or depression. In other words they are more effective and more important than stimulants. They are synergistic, so they work best when taken all together as B complex.

B Vitamins are flushed out of the system faster by use of alcohol, diuretics, sulfa antibiotics, oral contraceptives and a high carbohydrate diet (sugars especially).

B-100 B Vitamins are co-enzymes involved in energy production and necessary for the nervous system to operate at a quick tempo for quick thinking and action, moving from one task to another of a different sort.

I’m not going to detail the individual B vitamins and describe each one. Just get a good B Complex and have it ready.

I’m currently using Nature’s Way B-100 and normally need no more than half a capsule twice daily. After a day or two I can step down to 1/4 capsule doses twice daily. This B-100 is potent!

A well balanced diet should give you enough B vitamins normally, but prolonged stress, illness, surgery, etc will require supplementation.

You may find that as you get enough of your missing nutrients your energy levels return to normal and you don’t even need those stimulants.

More about stimulants

Coffee, chocolate and tea are also permanent parts of our lives, are well established commercially and in terms of their usefulness. This is not another simple-minded criticism of these as unhealthy.

Instead, it is better to know how to use such stimulants, when they are appropriate. I want to share a bit with you about what I’ve learned, having gone from being unable to tolerate a ‘buzz’ to being able to have what I want of them without negative effects.

There are a number of herbs that could be categorized as stimulants because of their xanthine alkaloid content (caffeine, theanine, theobromine, theophylline)

  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Cacao/chocolate
  • Guarana
  • Yerba Mate

These herbs are useful for enhancing blood circulation particularly in the upper half of the body, for the dilation of pores and other openings (generally part of the respiratory system, but can affect even gall/bile ducts, etc), for enhancing brain function. However, they do contain other phytonutrients besides xanthine alkaloids. Especially important are the flavanoids and polyphenol antioxidants that can be very important in preventing tissue degredation and aging.

Oolong Tea steeping.
(Photo by Wikimol via Wikimedia Commons)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Tea is categorized as a surface reliever. That means they cool/decongest the head/sinuses, open up the breathing passages and pores.

That is especially true for White Tea and Green Tea which are chemically different from Black Tea in spite of their similarities. They all come from the Camellia sinensis plant.
Antioxidant benefits of White and Green Tea: HIGH.

Tea is categorized in this way in TCM when made according to the traditional process of brief steeping of the leaves in hot water. Taken directly as powder Tea has a high tannin content — too high for many people — but can be useful for some when astringent toning of tissues is needed. That tannin content tightens tissues and closes up the pores and is most often better for external application, but certainly Tea is safer for internal use than the astringent herbs Witch Hazel and raw Oak bark or acorns.

Black Tea (referred to in China as “red tea”) can stop asthma attacks, especially if made double strong, and is similar in this effect to Ephedra, but generally milder. It is more warming in nature and it is easier to get too much because of its higher theanine/caffeine content.
Antioxidant benefits: modest.

Coffee may be the least useful of these in its roasted state since roasting destroys so much nutrition. However, it is an effective diuretic if you have not been over-using it. We make coffee they way we do for flavor, not health. Green coffee beans have a significant antioxidant benefit, but good luck getting a supply of them — and tolerating them. In their unroasted form they are not tasty.
Antioxidant benefits: no significant benefit.

Roasted cocoa bean.
(Photo by Glorgana via Wikimedia Commons)

Cacao/chocolate (cocoa) is a good heart tonic, opens up the blood vessels and enhances circulation to chest and head. However, it is not good for those who get migraines unless the circulatory warming effect stops a migraine that is cold-stagnant in nature. I discovered the benefits of chocolate for my mood and circulation before I knew anything about the science or marketing of it. Can be a good anti-depressant for many people. Best in low fat forms. Make a cocoa espresso by putting 1-2 Tbsp cocoa in 1-2 ounces of hot water. Stir it in very well and sweeten.
Antioxidant benefits: low to modest.

Guarana seed powder.

Guarana is a powerful stimulant that I have not really used except in homeopathic dilution. This is the one often included in energy drinks if synthetic caffeine is not used. It has around twice the concentration of caffeine by weight as coffee, so you can see the attraction for those who want a strong stimulant.
Antioxidant benefits: unknown.

Yerba Mate is the best and most well-rounded of all these. Yerba Mate drinks are becoming more widespread commercially. It is loaded with vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins and trace minerals. it has far lower tannin content than tea, so it is better for people with low tolerance for tannins.
Antioxidant benefits: HIGH.

German brands of Yerba Mate soft drinks.
(Photo by Janila Ruck, via Wikimedia Commons)


  • Bad reactions to stimulants can signal nutritional deficiency, especially of B Vitamins and minerals/electrolytes.
  • Pick a stimulant — if you really need one — based on the overall benefits of the herb.
  • Switch them out from time to time so that your body does not become dependent on any given one and it doesn’t wear out its welcome.
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About Kannon McAfee

Poet, herbalist/healer, professional astrologer. Kannon means Kwan Yin -- healer. So I approach my work and others with a healer's heart. I'm dedicated to advancing astrology as a soul-oriented science. My specialty is birth chart interpretation and rectification.
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