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Case Study Issue 97: Caffeine Allergy, Masked Cerebral Allergy

by Ruth Whalen(more info)

listed in case studies, originally published in issue 97 - March 2004

In 1973, I was an intelligent and quiet high school student residing in Avon, Massachusetts, enjoying art, music and theatre productions. I had several friends at the same level of academia. On weekends, we shared conversation over a soda or chocolate malt at a neighbourhood ice cream parlour. On Halloween, friendly homeowners tossed large chocolate bars into our bags. Unknown to me, I developed an allergy to caffeine. Memory impairment, loss of focus, intellectual depreciation, loss of judgement, impulsivity, hyperactivity and other symptoms of attention deficits easily mistaken for ADHD affected me. Mid-way through 1974, my grades began slipping. I didn't think much of it, except that my studies seemed more difficult. Conjugating Latin, and algebra became problems. I fidgeted in my seat while most classmates listened intently. I felt strange, as if I was living outside of myself. I felt out of place. When I spoke, words came out in my voice, void of natural meaning and perception. I had lost natural insight. Activities that had once held my attention seemed dull. Long time friends seemed boring. Thinking I no longer had anything in common with friends, I traded cultural activities and productive friends for associations with persons of a lower level of intellect and productivity level, those congregating in remote areas, passing a joint or drinking alcoholic beverages. Aware of alcohol's deleterious effects, I disliked liquor. Yet, a toxic mind is more apt to experiment with alcohol and drugs.[1] I drank beer with the crowd, but never touched hard liquor or street drugs.

On a February day in 1975, after caffeine cleared my system, I returned to my natural state. Then I drank cola. I suffered anaphylaxis with wheals, a sign of a drug allergy. After learning that I ingested clams that week, an emergency room physician, suspecting a seafood allergy, injected me with adrenaline. In doing so, he increased my adrenaline, noradrenaline, dopamine, serotonin and cortisol levels, decreased GABA and put me into acute psychosis. With continued caffeine intake, psychosis and its chemical imbalances remained chronic and progressed.

I attended college, graduated with honours, and secured a position at a general hospital as a laboratory technician. For fourteen years, I worked primarily in the areas of chemistry and immunology. Throughout, I attempted seeking adequate medical care for physical symptoms directly related to allergic toxicity. Doctors diagnosed a menagerie of disorders, including premenstrual syndrome (PMS), sleep apnea, anxiety, and hysteria, disorders accompanying persons diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. In December of 1999, a doctor diagnosed 'caffeine allergy/toxicity'. Without dialysis or psychiatric medication, I recovered from ongoing caffeine anaphylaxis. It took two years for toxins to clear my organs, returning me to my natural mental state and removing all physical disorders.

Dangers of Caffeine

Controversy remains regarding caffeine's effects. However, according to chemical manufacturers, caffeine is toxic when swallowed and harmful if inhaled.[2, 3] Controversy does not surround chronic drug intake. Persons are warned not to use a particular drug as a continued remedy for ill health because a tolerance and allergy can develop. This fact holds true for all drugs, including caffeine. Sensitization to caffeine results after caffeine use. Yet, caffeine allergy is unlike a chronic allergy to pollen. An allergic reaction to caffeine presents as anaphylaxis and the 'fight or flight' response and progresses to ongoing caffeine anaphylaxis fight or flight toxicity, a masked cerebral allergy and progressive toxic dementia.[4] Ongoing caffeine anaphylaxis deteriorates the brain and other organs. Symptoms include attention deficits, delusions, obsessive behaviour, and mania, and are indistinguishable from what is recognized as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. In fact, the chemical imbalances are one and the same. According to the Institute of Food Technologists' Expert Panel, almost everyone in North America uses caffeine in some form,[5] and it is estimated that 90% of the world's population uses caffeine. Because chronic caffeine use causes a mental fog, worldwide focus, common sense and chemistry knowledge have been forfeited to caffeine.

Chemical Imbalances

Due to caffeine's monoamine oxidase inhibitor properties,[6,7] caffeine increases the catecholamine and serotonin levels and delays reuptake. Acting like amphetamine, caffeine generates psychosis. Caffeine masks its own allergic symptoms. Cortisol rises with caffeine intake. Adrenaline, and cortisol reduce inflammation. Theophylline, a caffeine by-product, maintains open airways. Histamine fluctuates with the severity of allergic toxicity. Inhibiting phosphodiesterase, caffeine generates a cyclic AMP increase. Cyclic AMP[8] and cortisol reduce histamine.[9] During ongoing caffeine anaphylaxis, the adrenal glands eventually weaken, presenting with a cortisol reduction and symptoms indistinguishable from chronic fatigue. At that stage, histamine increases.

Points to Consider

For an allergic person, a small amount of caffeine acts like a bolus, generating abnormal psychological response, including mania. Withdrawal mimics depression.[4] Patients diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder commonly ingest five or more cups of coffee a day. Adrenaline and cortisol are markedly increased with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Histamine fluctuates with schizophrenia. Cyclic AMP increases with schizophrenia and fluctuates with bipolar disorder. In caffeine allergic consumers diagnosed with a mental disorder, chemical imbalances arise from ongoing caffeine anaphylaxis and generate a progression of psychological and physical symptoms.


1. Van Winkle E. The Toxic Mind: The Biology of Mental Illness and Violence. Medical Hypothesis. 55: 356-368. 2000.
2. Fisher Scientific Corporation. Material Safety Data Sheet: Caffeine. Fair Lawn, New Jersey. 2000.
3. Mallinckrodt Baker. Material Safety Data Sheet: Caffeine. Phillipsburg. New Jersey. 2000.
4. Whalen R. Caffeine Anaphylaxis, a Progressive Toxic Dementia. J Ortho Medicine. 18: 25-28. 2003.
5. Institute of Food Technologists Expert Panel. Caffeine: a Scientific Status Summary. Food Technology. 37: 87-91. 1983.
6. Glazigna L, Maina G, Rumney G. Role of L-ascorbic Acid in the Reversal of the Monoamine Oxidase Inhibition by Caffeine. J Pharm Pharmacol. 23: 303-5. 1971.
7. Hoffer A, Osmond H. The Hallucinogens. New York: Academic Press. p.324. 1967.
8. Cooper DA. The Immunological Basis of Immediate Hypersensitivity. Aust Fam Physician. 8: 38-9. 41-3. 45-6. 1979.
9. Devillier P. Pharmacology of Glucocorticoids and ENT Pathology. Presse Med. 30 (39-40 Pt 2): 59-69. 2001.


  1. alex said..

    I seriously believe i have a allergy to caffine too, even just a small amount seems to make me get very uncomfortable in my own skin. I lose focus and cant think straight. I have ordered your book and am going to stop caffiene now. Thanks a lot.

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About Ruth Whalen

Ruth Whalen BA MLT holds an Associates Degree in Medical Technology and is a licensed medical laboratory technician with fourteen years experience in immunology and chemistry. Publications detailing her caffeine allergy include the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine and the Townsend Report for Doctors and Patients. She can be contacted on

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