The “Death Before Decaf” days are, well, dead. The notion that decaf coffee is bad has probably always been wrong, though perhaps that perception was bolstered a bit by perhaps a less than meticulous care for it as a product in the past. But with as much loving attention as regular coffee gets, decaf can be pretty damn tasty.
And as it turns out, it can be quite the benefit for those looking to kick the caffeine habit. A new study finds that drinking decaf coffee may ease the effects of caffeine withdrawal.
As reported by New Atlas, the new study by researchers at the University of Sydney was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. For their findings, the researchers examined a group of 61 “heavy coffee drinkers,” those who consumed at least three cups of caffeinated coffee daily. All participants were deprived of caffeine for 24 hours, and their withdrawal symptoms were measured. Participants were then divided into three groups: those given water to drink, those given decaf but told it was regular coffee, and those given decaf and told it was decaf.
45 minutes later, withdrawal symptoms were measured a second time, with the group who believed they were drinking caffeinated coffee to have the most marked improvement, which researchers believe to be the result of the placebo effect. But the group that knew they were drinking decaf experienced a similar, if slightly lessened, effect, reporting “a significantly larger reduction than the water group.”
Researchers state this is due to something known as the “open-label placebo effect.” It is a phenomenon where, even when someone knows they are taking a placebo, they still experience “beneficial placebo-like effects.” According to the researchers, years of drinking coffee—the taste, the aroma, etc—have come to be associated in our brains with the easing of withdrawal symptoms. So when we give our bodies the same input, albeit in decaf form, a similar reduction is induced.
The researchers note that relying on the open-label placebo effect isn’t a long-term solution for dealing with caffeine withdrawal, but they do believe it may be enough to get you over the initial hump when things are at their worst.
So if, for whatever reason, you feel like kicking the caffeine habit, you should consider decaf. It’ll help with the initial side effects, and y’know, decaf is delicious.
Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.