the benefits of drinking CBD coffee


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Like most people, I function best when I am completely caffeinated. As a child I used to eat espresso pudding after the holiday dinner, and as an adult I always have a small coffee maker at 9 a.m. and another at 10:30 a.m. If I run, I’ll have a cup or two before I go, and sometimes I’ll have a third around 3 p.m. And yes, I sleep like a log.

But I have three problems: I often tend to waste a lot of coffee because of its bitter taste; this annoying nervousness can prevent me from sounding like a normal human during afternoon Zoom calls; and I have already been diagnosed with excessively high cortisol levels.

Producing too much of the hormone for too long can also lead to anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, acne, and more. While it does take a little stress to get up in the morning, too much can be counterproductive. This tipping point is totally individualistic, but for me, I still walk a fine line between being well and feeling too stressed out after only recovering from amenorrhea two years ago.

Twice a week, I leave home at 6.30am to go to a high intensity gym class. I run twice a week and cycle instead of taking public transport. I have a full-fledged job. I live in London. Each weekend is a balance between social advancement, fitness and relaxation. Oh, and I drink a lot of coffee.

In moderate doses, of course, caffeine is really good for us. A recent study published in the journal PloS medicine found that people who drink two to three cups of coffee and tea per day have a 30% lower risk of stroke and dementia than those who drink neither. In fact, having a combination of up to six cups of tea and coffee a day has been linked to a lower risk of vascular dementia (although this clearly doesn’t mean that all people with dementia could have avoided it. while drinking three cups of coffee).

But what if there was a way to get all the benefits of caffeine without any of the complications of cortisol? Enter: adaptogenic coffee.

Adaptogenic herbs are known to help the body adapt to our physical and emotional stressors. The word “adaptogen” was first coined by a Russian toxicologist in 1957 to describe “substances that increase the state of non-specific resistance” to stress. For something to count as an adaptogen, it has to nourish, level out energy and stress, work on multiple parts of the body at the same time, and be completely safe to use over an extended period of time.

Science, although quite small, supports the use of certain herbs (which have often been used for hundreds of years in traditional medicine). Ashwagandha, for example, has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory, anti-stress, antioxidant and rejuvenating herb that has a “positive influence on the endocrine, cardiopulmonary and central nervous system”.

Ginseng has also been found to soothe long-term sources of stress. A few small studies have shown that mushrooms like reishi can boost immunity, while lion’s mane repairs nerve damage, reduces inflammation, and reduces mild symptoms of depression.

“While we don’t have enough research on lion’s mane coffee (in particular), we do know that edible mushrooms are a great source of vitamins and minerals and have been used in Ayurvedic medicine since 3000 BC,” explains Signe Svanfeldt, nutritionist at Somme de Vie.

“We also know that drinking coffee in moderate amounts can increase alertness (thanks to caffeine) and improve performance. Popular adaptogens like ginseng and ashwagandha are believed to stimulate your body’s response to stress, but again, we don’t have enough evidence to support this.

What is the point of mixing adaptogens with coffee?

While adaptogens can have some benefits, it’s still weird to combine them with coffee. But, according to Zain Peer, co-founder of London Nootropics, “There are good synergies between coffee and adaptogens because they allow us to benefit from caffeine while minimizing the side effects.

While caffeine can make us more alert and attentive by blocking our adenosine receptors, it also increases our levels of cortisol, which can lead to anxiety, rapid heartbeat, and nervousness. “Adaptogens can help balance our cortisol levels, ensuring that we get the benefits of coffee while reducing this anxiety,” says Peer.

“Caffeine is also absorbed quickly, which can cause a crash, and adaptogens can help give us sustained energy levels without crashing – and they have additional health benefits as well.”

How does adaptogenic coffee work?

The question then is: are you consuming enough of these potent herbs to reap the health benefits or for them to have a profound effect? “What is important are the active ingredients and the bioavailability (relative to the total amounts) of the adaptogens,” explains Peer.

One of the London Nootropics blends is a CBD and ashwagandha coffee that uses broad spectrum CBD. This, they claim, means the blend works on two systems in the body: CBD on the endocannabinoid system and ashwagandha on our adrenal glands. As for other blends, Peer says the coffee uses nearly 500 mg of high-quality double-extract lion’s mane, which researchers believe is an effective dose.

It might seem odd to add a sedative to your morning food, but it does make sense. “Caffeine is the world’s most popular nootropic,” Peer continues. “It can help improve mental alertness and more. However, it can have side effects for some people and CBD can help balance stress / anxiety levels in our body, allowing us to benefit from caffeine while remaining balanced.

Is it worth switching from regular caffeine to adaptogenic coffee?

As someone who believes in the power of mushrooms (hello Fantastic mushrooms!) and who tends to avoid oat milk coffees for fear of the caffeine being diluted, I wanted to see if switching to adaptogenic coffee for a few weeks would have any noticeable benefits.

I decided to replace my first morning coffee (usually drunk at 6 or 9, depending on whether it’s a gym day or not) with a Mojo blend of cordyceps and ginseng. My second cup of the day tends to be a Grind (lion’s mane and rhodiola) and my third is ashwagandha and CBD (Zen).

The first thing you notice about these coffees is that they don’t smell or taste like regular coffee. There is no acidity, no bitterness; they’re sort of creamy and sweet with no sweeteners or dairy substitutes. And because of that, I drank whole cups rather than letting half of them cool as usual. Zen tastes amazing in an oatmeal latte, although I don’t normally drink them.

CBD might seem like a weird thing to add to coffee, but apparently it stops the caffeine jitters.
CBD might seem like a weird thing to add to coffee, but apparently it stops the caffeine jitters.

Although I am not that sensitive to caffeine, I certainly noticed that the tremors and increasing heartbeats were gone. With adaptogenic coffee, I never get to a point where I think I had drunk too much and yet I didn’t really feel the need to have that third cup, unless it was because I had craving that creamy and frothy latte.

I am mentally alert by the time I leave the house at 6:30 am and have as much energy as I need to finish my gym classes. Normally I would crave a second cup by the time I get to the office or home, but again, at the moment, I feel like I could easily do without – I just love the taste and the warmth of the drink so I tend to have that second cup.

It might be a placebo, but I feel great drinking adaptogen coffee. I’m less stressed and less hectic than I normally can be and yet just as productive. Above all, I waste less. I spend a lot on ground coffee beans and yet every day I have to throw out at least a full cup; the bitterness can be overwhelming after a while. Because “mushroom coffee” is not bitter and doesn’t have the immediate impact that regular coffee has, it is more pleasant to drink.

Will I continue to drink adaptogenic coffee exclusively? When possible, yes. Of course, most cafes don’t, and sometimes you just want a standard Americano. But I think when you have a fitness program and heavy work out, it can be helpful to think about removing additional stressors from your diet if you’ve already evaluated your sleep, how many plants you eat per day, and whether you are well hydrated. I won’t be ditching the caffeine anytime soon, but a cup of lion’s mane or ashwagandha coffee is the perfect mix.

For more nutritional advice, check out the rest of the Strong Women Training Club library.

Images: Getty / London Nootropics / Miranda Larbi

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About Jeffery L. Parker

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