Alternatives to caffeine?

I have a severe reaction when I drink caffeine. I was diagnosed with GERD as a child in the States but when I tried drinking coffee during my teen years, I always felt incredibly nauseous and felt like vomiting.

I tried pseudoephedrine HCL found in Sudafed (Non Drowsy) here in Europe but I don’t know whether some employers will have an issue with it during a drug test (currently unemployed). Probably not but I’d like to know if anyone else has a similar issue.

I get a good nights sleep (about 8-9 hours) so that’s not an issue.

OK. Why do you need caffeine? You say you get plenty of sleep.

You instead take an over the counter decongestant. Why? What side effect, matches the effect of caffeine, which is what, exactly, since you get enough sleep? Nervousness, restlessness, inability to sleep, you need these to work?

Caffeine activates your reflux. So, don’t take it. No wait, coffee, activates your reflux, likely by its acid content. So, if you swallow a No-Doz, you don’t get reflux? Or you do?

Again, you need caffeine, why?

I hope this isn’t thread shitting. But I’d like a complete question, so we can give a useful answer. You just put the “I get 8-10 hours of sleep” to shut out the most useful typical help offered.

I know a guy who doesn’t work. He’s never worked. He’s essentially the “house husband” for his family. He never imbibes caffeine. He doesn’t “get” it – he asks, “What does it do for you, at work?”

Caffeine at work is a polite fiction. We show up, bleary eyed and out of it. Bosses, supervisors, white-collar, blue collar, doesn’t matter. Then we sip the piping hot brown liquid and our eyes snap open. Poing Ready to face the day and handle any challenge.

How’d we get there? How’d we drive without causing an accident? How’d we navigate mass transit? How’d we dress ourselves?

None of that matters. But we need coffee before we face any challenge. Well, why?

Ginseng, Taurine, and Guarana to name a few. Also, have you tried caffeine-free BCAA drink mix? Any of these should help get you started in the morning.

If you’re asking specifically about whether pseudoephedrine will show up on a drug test, then:

  1. I think you have misinterpreted the name of this website. The Straight Dope isn’t referring to drugs.
  2. Taking Sudafed for other than it’s intended purpose might not be legal. Might want to look into that.

Out of curiosity, is it the caffeine or the coffee that gives you GI issues? If it’s the coffee, you can get caffeine pills or find a number of other drinks with caffeine in them.

As for the Sudafed, I don’t believe that would show up on a standard drug test.

It’s the caffeine. I’ve taken caffeine tablets and even energy drinks both combined and seperate at low to high doses and when I feel the ‘buzz’ from the caffeine, I feel like vomiting.

Pseudoephedrine feels like a much ‘cleaner’ awake feeling it’s unbelievable. I don’t feel nauseuous at all.

There are a number of ways to get caffeine ranging from caffeine pills to coffee to tea to soda pop (Coca Cola, etc):

Do all of them cause you problems?

I personally never use caffeine except for occasional long driving trips where I start to get sleepy–and then I use caffeine pills.

For what purpose do you need something that stimulates like caffeine, if not to stay awake?

Do you have a sinus congestion?

My beverage of choice is hot cocoa, made with hot water and cocoa straight from a tin of baker’s cocoa. Add some sweetener or creamer if the straight cocoa is too bitter for you.

I recommend straight baker’s cocoa because it’s cheaper than premade mixes, and because I can control the sweetness. The cocoa itself doesn’t have fat or many calories, so I can control how much fat or sugar I get with it, too.

The active ingredient is theobromine. It’s in the same class of compounds as caffeine, but is different. It wakes me up, but doesn’t cause jitters like caffeine does to me. I feel it’s more mellow than the harshness of caffeine. But, like caffeine, it’ll kill you if you take too much at once.

Nope. Cocoa powder is between 13-40% fat, depending on the brand.

Yes, there is some fat left, but the point of Dutch-processing cocoa is to remove the fat. Some companies might do incomplete processing, or add fat back in after processing. I avoid those and use properly Dutch-processed cocoa.

Ironically enough, there’s on average more caffeine in tea leaves than there is in coffee grounds. However, where black coffee is pretty concentrated dirtbean juice ; tea is usually served more diluted. That being said, nothing precludes one from brewing large amounts of tea leaves in a small cup or mug. The British Empire ran on the stuff !

As for myself, who also do not drink coffee (no GERD, just bad childhood memories leaving an imprint that makes me nauseous at the mere smell of it) : diet coke is my let’s-wake-up-and-do-this-shit drug of choice. Red Bull at parties too, sometimes, when I feel tired, but generally I find that while it gives one a noticeable “jolt” it doesn’t last very long for some reason.

Guarana is rich in caffeine.

Yes, pseudoephedrine can show up on some drug tests, but does not always. It depends on what, exactly the drug test is testing for and how sensitive it is.

Pseudoephedrine is chemically related to methamphetamine - that is, in fact, why druggies on occasion purchase large quantities of it, to turn it into methamphetamine. It can show up on some (but not all) drug screens as positive for meth. Again, it depends on exactly what the test is looking for, and how the looking is done.

If you are taking pseudoephedrine and are required to take a urine test for employment purposes be sure to state prior to the test that you take pseudoephedrine. If you are asked to state why say “sinus problems”. As it is a legal, OTC drug in the US (even if you have to show an ID and sign for it) it should not be a problem for most forms of employment.

One area it might be a problem is if you fly for a living. Not as a passenger, as a pilot - the FAA frowns upon pilots taking pseudopephedrine because it can make a person more susceptible to vertigo, which is not something you want in a pilot. So, for a very few, select professions it could potentially be a problem, but not for most jobs.


Pseudoephedrine, like caffeine, is a stimulant. It can make you feel more alert. It can make you feel less tired. You really have to ask why some people find this desirable?

Of course, in excess it can result in “nervousness, restlessness, inability to sleep” but very few people are taking it for those particular effects.

Generally, I have a cuppa first thing in the morning. Also, I get up sufficiently early that I can be fully awake prior to getting behind the wheel, that also helps.

When necessary, I have managed to navigate the world in a caffeine free state with no problems. I just like my tea and I like my caffeine. I’m not ready to give up either, and since neither impairs either my health or functioning I see no reason to do so.

Because it feels good.


It’s alright. It salright. Itasal, right?

Too many people are talking about alternative caffeine methods. The OP specifically does not want caffeine. If the OP feels substantially better on coffee, tea, or pseudo-ephedrine, then you may actually have a histamine sleepiness problem. Ask your GP to do food and inhalant allergy testing, and request a thyroid check.

It sounds like you may just be dipping a toe into the nootropics waters. It is a vast pool full of woo with a few useful products, most of which work differently for different people, lifestyles, goals, and even diets. You’ve got a lot of reading to do if you want to find the best you can be.

If you truly are just feeling sleepy despite getting plenty of rest, try vitamin “D” first, then Methyl Folate. Those are the two most likely candidates. Then I would go to choline supplements.

Also, exercise and sunlight really do matter. If you haven’t addressed those, add 20 minutes of daylight (preferably morning) walking before you do anything else.

If all that doesn’t help, Adrafinil is the best OTC wakefulness supplement. It is not a stimulant per se, and won’t make you feel more energetic; it just helps you feel awake and focused. You mustn’t take that every day though, because it is processed by the liver, and could cause long term damage. Again, read, read, read before you make any changes or follow any advice.

You’ll crash too soon. Meth is better.

I used to love adrafinil, but then they stopped making it. Drugs like modafinil will as well or better I’m sure.

There are a wide range of stimulants to pick from. Some legal, some illegal. Personally I had more benefit from ephedrine than I ever did from pseudoephedrine.