Caffeine and Essential Tremor

July 06, 2018

Caffeine is a stimulant that interacts with the nervous system, and is the world's most consumed psychoactive drugs. Caffeine has a number of defining characteristics, but the most prominent is that it blocks adenosine which prevents drowsiness that is induced by adenosine. Caffeine also, at the same time stimulates certain portions of the autonomic nervous system. Caffeine is a white, crystal like substance that can be found naturally in seeds, nuts and types of plants in Africa and south America. It helps protect the plants against predator insects. The most well-known natural source of caffeine is through America’s favorite drink, coffee and the coffee bean. Most people consume coffee today through coffee, tea, and sodas. 85 percent of adults consume coffee in America every day, and consume around 164 mg on average.

Normally caffeine can have positive and negative health effects. It can treat and prevent premature infant breathing disorders, and it may have some protective effect against some diseases like Parkinson's disease. We all know that when we drink caffeine we may not be able to sleep as well, and that we can be somewhat addicted to it and experience withdrawals and tolerances to it. But how does it affect essential tremor?  

Though the cause of essential tremor is not entirely known, essential tremor can occur through familial genes and it can occur in relation to another disorder such as Parkinson disease. It is suggested that the cerebellum and other parts of the brain are not communicating correctly when essential tremor is present, and that is what causes the muscle shakes and lack of coordination. Since the cause of essential tremor isn’t known entirely, there is no way the condition can be prevented, it can only be treated. Essential tremor is very unique, and should be treated on a case by case basis. Essential tremor is a kinetic tremor unlike most other types of tremor, and is made worse by movement and stress on the muscles. 

Because essential tremor is made worse by movement and stress, caffeine can overstimulate the condition and make the tremors much worse. Suppressants like alcohol have been found to calm the tremors, but it has been found that caffeine can stimulate the nervous system and actually make the tremors much worse. This may not be true for everyone, which is why it is important to work with your healthcare provider and trust your own experience. 

One suggestion to see how caffeine affects you is to record in a journal how you feel and log your tremors. This way you can track your tremors, when they occur, and what events they occur around. You might write down the time of day, what you ate or drank, your emotional state, or anything that would have upset or worried you. 

Caffeine tends to generally stimulate essential tremor and make it worse after consumption because of the nature of its stimulating effect. Though it may not negatively affect everyone with tremors, it has been strongly suggested to be consumed lightly as to not make tremors worse in the case of essential tremor.