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Coffee & Anxiety – What’s the link?

Coffee and anxiety, is there a link? From my research and personal experience, I would have to say an overwhelming YES!

Anxiety is a condition I treat a lot in my clinic, and one of the first things I do with anxious patients is ask them about their coffee intake. More often than not they do drink coffee, and more often than not they don’t want to give it up. I feel you, I used to be the same way, but hear me out. These are 5 reasons why you need to give up coffee today for reduced anxiety & stress:

1. Coffee increases stress hormones

Coffee increases your stress hormone cortisol, that’s why you feel more ‘energised’ when you drink it. But this puts our body in the “flight or fight” response, putting your body on alert for danger. This makes your heart beat faster, can make you jumpy & on edge and can make you overreact to stimuli. Essentially, a nightmare for someone already dealing with anxiety.

2. Coffee depletes nutrients and can block nutrient absorption

Because your body is in an elevated level of stress, you burn through magnesium, zinc, vitamin C and B vitamins faster. This can cause you to become depleted, especially if you aren’t replenishing them with diet or supplements. But don’t think that taking a multivitamin with your daily coffee will negate the issue, coffee can block absorption of iron by 60-90% and also inhibits absorption of zinc, magnesium, calcium and B vitamins. Drinking tea also inhibits the absorption of these vitamins and minerals, so always remember to take supplements with a buffer of 1-2 hrs before and after tea or coffee.

3. Coffee affects sex hormones

We know coffee affects our stress hormone cortisol, but it also affects sex hormones too. High cortisol reduces our sex hormone progesterone, which can lead to PMS, irregular periods, anxiety, headaches, weight gain and low libido. Elevated cortisol can also decrease DHEA which is our ‘lifeforce hormone’ and a precursor for testosterone & oestrogen. When DHEA is low, you can feel fatigued, depressed and suffer with poor memory.

4. Coffee affects sleep

It’s no secret that coffee can affect your sleep. After all, most people drink coffee in the mornings to help them wake up. But the effects of coffee can last for a long time, with the average half life being 4-6 hours or more for some individuals. Not only can it affect your ability to fall asleep, but it also can affect the quality of your sleep – making you wake up demanding a coffee again to ‘recover’ from the night of poor sleep. 

5. Coffee can make fatigue worse over time

So imagine this, your adrenals are constantly pumping out cortisol, becoming overworked and not getting the rest they deserve. Over time they are getting pretty exhausted and eventually there comes a point where they just cannot keep up. You’ll feel exhausted at this point and see cortisol levels flatline when looking at the results of a hormone test. I see this quite a bit in clinic and it’s not an easy issue to overcome. It takes a lot of herbal and nutritional support to get your cortisol levels sustainably back to a healthy level.


A big factor in why many of my clients like their morning coffee is the ritual of it, and the moment of peace and calm it gives them before a busy day. So I invite you to replace this ritual with a new one, still have a morning brew but make it one that supports your health instead. Go for a herbal tea, a superfood latte (so many options these days) or even a regular tea or matcha latte. 

Give it a try for the next two weeks and let me know how you feel! Full disclosure, the first week is probably going to be a bit rough, but by week two you’ll start to feel the benefits!



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Emalyse the Naturopath

Hi! I'm Emalyse.

I adore everything to do with herbs, health and wellness and am on a constant quest to find more ways to support myself and others to become a glowing beacon of health -and not just for our bodies, but our minds, spirit, emotions and relationships too!

My happiest days are spent helping clients imrprove their health through a mix of holistic traditional medicine and the latest scientific research & functional testing. I like to blend the best of both worlds, and share my years of knowledge with you in the process.

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