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Individuals who consume coffee may benefit from a recent placebo revelation that demonstrates how decaf coffee can satisfy the cravings of those who depend on caffeine on a daily basis to avoid withdrawal symptoms. If you happen to be among the 90% of grown-ups who consume coffee on a daily basis, then you might be able to relate to this.

Caffeine withdrawal symptoms include headaches and fatigue

According to a study carried out by the University of Sydney, the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal, which include headaches, fatigue, irritability, and bad mood, were reduced when the participants consumed decaf coffee, with or without their awareness that it was caffeine-free.

The study, which appeared in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, was spearheaded by Senior Research Associate Dr. Llew Mills from the School of Addiction Medicine, along with co-authors from the School of Psychology, including Dr. Jessica Lee, Professor Ben Colagiuri, and Professor Emeritus Robert Boakes.

According to Dr. Mills, a strong cup of decaffeinated coffee can significantly alleviate withdrawal symptoms, even when consumed knowingly.

In the research, 61 individuals who consume three or more cups of coffee per day were selected as heavy coffee drinkers. They abstained from caffeine for a day, and their withdrawal symptoms were observed. After that, the participants were divided into three sets. Two groups were given decaffeinated coffee, with one group informed truthfully about the decaf coffee and the other group deceived into believing they were taking regular coffee. The remaining group, which was the control group, received water.

Decaf reduces caffeine withdrawal symptoms

Dr. Mills stated that the group we deceived noted a substantial decrease in caffeine withdrawal symptoms, despite the lack of any pharmacological basis for such a reduction. According to him, their anticipation of a decrease in withdrawal led to its actual manifestation. Mills also noted that this was an example of the placebo effect, which had been observed in multiple studies. 

Interestingly, the new study revealed that individuals’ withdrawal symptoms decreased even when they were aware they were consuming decaf, although not to the same extent as the group that had been misled. Nonetheless, the reduction was significant.