The Effects of Caffeine on the Lupus Body

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to finally stop drinking coffee. I always looked forward to my daily morning ritual and the nice pick-me-up mid-afternoon treat.  I had a variety of creamers and different flavored coffees, not to mention a bailetti, espresso, and latte coffee makers, as well as a foam/froth makers.  You name it, I had one.

As you can imagine, the thought of leaving my ritual high and dry was depressing.

Effects of Caffeine - Herbal Tea - Margaret Romero From Lupus to Living

photo credit: brotherM via photopin cc

So I began to venture into teas: roobios, chais, herbals, yerba mate, as well as different flavored creamers and stevias.

So the month came and went, uneventful except the longing for my old friend.  Since I had replaced coffee with caffeinated teas, I hardly experienced any headaches. I did feel a little groggy at times, but by the end of that month the grogginess had subsided somewhat.

All was well in my world until my period was 3 days late. I have always been a 28 day cycle kind of girl.  I was never late. Then a week went by, still no period.  After two weeks, finally, a normal period.


This unexpected side effect of giving up coffee truly freaked me out!

The only thing that had changed in the month prior was that I had stopped drinking coffee. True investigator that I am, after some research I found out that coffee is estrogenic, which means that coffee has properties of estrogen in it. Drinking coffee increases the estrogen in your body, and removing it reduces your body’s estrogen.  So, by cutting off my daily cup of coffee, my body didn’t have enough estrogen to stick to its normal cycle.

Also, I had started drinking decaffeinated coffee (which still has small amounts of caffeine in it) instead of regular coffee because my heart would beat rapidly for a couple of hours after drinking one cup of the regular stuff.

Then I read that decaf is loaded with more chemicals than regular coffee.  With my history of kidney issues, avoiding chemicals is my top priority.  Since regular coffee (not organic) is loaded with pesticides, I decided to give up drinking coffee altogether.

It was the right decision.

Right decision - effects of caffeine - Margaret Romero From Lupus to Living

photo credit: mopsografie via photopin cc

My heart stopped racing and I no longer had those chemicals soaring through my body.

If you didn’t know, coffee will also increase your blood pressure for up to 2 hours after you consume it.  And I am VERY vigilant about my blood pressure – don’t want to stress out my kidneys any more!

So I had my blood drawn and was surprised to find a few changes.

Since stopping the coffee my BUN (blood urea nitrogen) levels had decreased. This measures how well your kidneys are doing.  Higher numbers signify chronic or acute kidney disease.  In individuals with lupus nephritis, these values (along with creatinine) are especially important to monitor.

To recap, I saw firsthand what stopping coffee for 1 month did for my body:

  • Decreased my blood pressure
  • Decreased my heart rate
  • Potentially decreased intake of estrogen
  • Decreased chemicals from the decaf
  • Decreased the BUN kidney value

Now that I understood the effects that giving up coffee had had on my body, I was no longer freaked out about my period arriving late.  My ovaries and adrenals kicked in and the following month, I had a normal cycle.

Today I don’t have a daily tea, except maybe an occasional chai latte.

And I don’t feel lethargic from lack of caffeine. The first month of switching from coffee to tea wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

But for those of you who drink more than 2 cups of coffee per day, I would start with a green tea or yerba mate which have caffeine in them. Try and go organic as much as you can. And if you are not ready to give up coffee, then at least switch to organic coffee.

Note: I am not guaranteeing any of these results.  You may have a different experience when giving up coffee. It may or may not affect your kidneys.

I hope I have inspired you to take action for your health. You will notice a big difference. If you do stop drinking coffee, I’d love to hear about your own experiences! Please post a comment below.

Have a beautiful summer week,

3 Comments on The Effects of Caffeine on the Lupus Body

  1. Renee
    March 19, 2014 at 7:46 pm (3 years ago)

    Thank you so much Margaret for sharing your story ! I hope it will help me with mine:-) I was Diagnosed with Lupus earlier this year (2014) and have not been able to give up the coffee !! It just might have to do with some of the symptoms I have been feeling …… We shall see. Until then I will start on that tea !!!!
    Thanks again

    • margaret
      March 21, 2014 at 2:38 am (3 years ago)

      Sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis. You can and will get through this. As for the coffee, it was a somewhat difficult transition but you can do it! If you have any kidney issues, caffeine will raise blood pressure as well.

  2. Twee
    January 6, 2016 at 9:04 am (10 months ago)


    Thank you so much for sharing this. I have recently been diagnosed and am a nephri. I love coffee, and tried to switch to tea. I did experience the stomach pain and nausea from the switch. 2 weeks later, I am back on coffee. From reading your post, I think I will cut the coffee.


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Photography of Margaret by Tanzie Johnson.