Coffee, tea and other caffeine containing beverages are a staple for people around the world. Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant with the potential for addiction if overused. According to the DSM-5, the American Psychological Association’s diagnostic manual for mental disorders, caffeine addiction, known as caffeine intoxication is a disorder in which a physical dependence to this psychoactive drug occurs. Most people use caffeine to provide an energy boost or to help with focus and memory. However, some people simply enjoy the taste, daily ritual and enjoyment of caffeine. If you think you are becoming dependent on caffeine, you may want to consider these alternatives.


Start your day with a good breakfast and you may find that you require less caffeine to fuel your day. Protein is essential for life. Choose a wide variety of protein at breakfast and throughout your day such as lean meat, fish, legumes, nuts and seeds, quinoa, eggs and dairy products such as Greek yogurt. Protein is broken down into amino acids, building blocks that form hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters that fuel your body’s metabolic functions to provide you with energy and brain power.

Stretch and Move

The majority of working society spends a large part of the day sitting in front of a computer. Stretching and moving during your day will help to keep your blood circulating. Sneak away for a 10 minute brisk walk outdoors, if you can. Grab your running shoes, keep an upright posture and pump your arms at your sides. The oxygen from the fresh air is a great energy booster. If you can’t get outside, try the forward hip bend right at your desk. Stand up, bend forward at your hips and just let your arms hang in front of you. This simple stretch will help loosen a tight lower back and hamstrings while bringing fresh blood to your brain.

Cacao Nibs

Ok, so I guess I’m cheating a bit with this suggestion because cacao nibs contain a tiny amount of caffeine, however they also contain antioxidants, fibre and magnesium. Cacao nibs are derived from cacao or cocoa beans. Considered the less refined alternative to chocolate, cacao nibs can provide you with a boost of energy with little risk of addiction. Try adding a tablespoon to your oatmeal, smoothie or cereal in the morning. You’ll find these crunchy caffeine alternatives in most health food stores. Chocolate in the morning? Why not!

Cook With Rosemary

Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs. This fragrant evergreen plant is currently being studied for its ability to boost brain power. Scientists believe that regular inhalation of Rosemary’s essential oils may increase your brain’s acetylcholine level, an important brain chemical associated with memory and concentration. Try adding some chopped rosemary into your soup, stew, potatoes or favorite meat dish. Or purchase the essential oil of rosemary and keep it at your desk. When you feel a little sluggish, take a whiff.

B Complex Vitamins

B vitamins or a B-complex is a potent energy-boosting supplement. When you are having a stressful day, trying to meet deadlines and not getting the best quality sleep, a B complex is a supplement that you may want to consider taking. B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin and folic acid, help to keep your metabolism running and energy levels up. B-Complex supplements have been known to help elevate mood and support better sleep patterns. Speak to your health care practitioner about supplementation.

Caffeine is a drug known for its psychoactive effects that many people around the world have come to rely on to provide energy and alertness. However, if you are looking for some alternatives, it is my hope that you will consider adding some of these suggestions into your daily routine.

About the Author

Dr. Olivia Rose graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences and in 2006, she graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

In addition to her private practice, Dr. Rose is the director of Fertility Acupuncture Services, a mobile service that brings acupuncture to couples undergoing in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination at Toronto fertility clinics. Her special areas of interest include infertility; children and teen health; stress management; weight loss; heart disease; digestive and immune health; skin rejuvenation and pain management. She is a birth doula and has additional training in cosmetic acupuncture and needle-less therapies for skin rejuvenation and joint pain.

Dr. Rose is a sought-after lecturer for community organizations; a freelance writer and mentor to new graduates. She has been interviewed by various media outlets including Global Toronto’s, “The Morning Show”, “News at Noon” and “News Hour”. In her free time, she unplugs at the spa and she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, son and tea-cup Yorkie. For more information on Dr. Rose's practice and special events, please visit -