Coffee: Friend or Foe Part I

I ask nearly every patient that I see about whether or not they use coffee because it is a powerful substance that can have profound effects, both good and bad. I take the time to educate people about its pros and cons as it is a hot topic of much debate in the media and scientific circles. Is coffee harmful or helpful? How much is appropriate, and for whom?

Coffee beans have been identified as a medicinal substance by every major herbal tradition globally. Like any other medicine, when used appropriately, it is not considered good or bad. The important thing is to understand how coffee affects the body to make informed choices about how and whether to use it.

From the perspective of classical herbalism, coffee is bitter, sweet, and warming. It primarily affects the liver, gallbladder, heart, kidney, nervous system, and large intestine. Its main actions are to clear/ release stuck energy, stimulate and focus the mind, relieve fatigue, increase peristalsis (movement of the intestines), and increase urine output. All positive things that most people want. But what about the side effects that many people experience, such as nausea, feeling jittery, anxiety, loss of appetite, sweating, and insomnia?

How can one tell if it will be a benefit or liability to better health? What are the problems with drinking coffee over the medium and long term? What are the best ways to reap the benefits of coffee without the side effects? To be continued! 🙂