We all go through the cycle of caffeine: the want, the need, the jitters, the shakes, and the withdrawal. If you’re in love with your coffee, Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy, or some other combination of caffeine and taurine, but suffering from sleeplessness and jitters, consider a few of these other sources of caffeine without all of the side effects.

Green Tea

Everyone has something to say about green tea. No, it doesn’t pack the same punch as coffee. That’s a fact. It does, however, help you gain and keep a steady buzz if you’re studying for a long period of time, writing a paper, or pulling an all-nighter. With coffee, most people experience anxiety, jitters, gastrointestinal problems, and more after 4-6 cups, which you’re wont to drink when you’re in the zone. If you replace all, or even just half of those cups with green tea, you can keep your caffeine high going without all of the negative side effects. Green tea is easy on your stomach, and has just enough caffeine to help you maintain a buzz. You can also cook with it, or put it in smoothies!

Maca (Lepidium meyenii)

Maca is certainly harder to find, but it is worth it if you can find it. This root is from the highlands of Peru, and is consumed quite regularly in root, leaf, and tea form in the Andes. You know it works because it’s the younger step-cousin of the coca plant. It’s apparently marketed as a fertility-boosting supplement, but most residents of the Andes will argue that it’s more of a libido-boosting supplement, which then leads to the conception. You want to be very careful with these substances though because you need a trustworthy brand, so you should ask an herbalist for a recommendation. Never take more than the maximum dosage. In fact, a fourth of that should do the trick because this energy-boosting plant is definitely powerful. I recommended mixing the powdered root it into your nutella or peanut butter spread, or adding a small amount of powder to smoothies and baked goods. If you’re lucky, you can even find pre-mixed spreads like Macatela, which combine the nutty goodness of nut butters, the antioxidants of cacao, and the energy of maca. Consume in moderation with toast and bananas!

Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis)

Another fabulous tea concoction, mate, or yerba mate, is a tea that grows throughout South America, and is extensively popular in Uruguay, Argentina, and the highlands of Peru. You can find a dumbed-down version in health food stores across the U.S. under the brand name Guayaki. It’s not quite as buzz-worthy as the real deal, but it’s got more caffeine than green tea, and releases more slowly than coffee. Instead of getting a sudden jolt of energy, you get a slow and steady alertness, which is great for writing papers. Celestial Seasonings also has a few black teas with mate added, which simply boosts the caffeine content of a traditional English Breakfast.


I’m not a doctor, and I know that you’re not supposed to take any medication without having symptoms. I know that acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol and Excedrin) is for pain and for fevers, and that it’s not great for your liver. I also know that I’ve done some of my best work after having a headache, due primarily to the Excedrin.

Excedrin Migraine, Menstrual Complete, and Extra Strength, despite the names, all have the same amounts of ingredients, including 65 mg of caffeine. It doesn’t make you jittery, it doesn’t irritate your stomach, and it somehow clears your head. You should never exceed the recommended dosage, but I wouldn’t be afraid to take one to stave off exhaustion every once in a while.

Leave a comment below and tell us what energizes you.