Scientific Names of Coffee:    

Coffea arabica L., C. liberica, C. robusta and related Coffea species [Fam. Rubiaceae]


Whole, ripe roasted bean; Powdered roasted bean; water extracts of roasted bean; green (unripe) coffee bean extracts

Traditional Usage:    

– Alcohol Poisoning
– Alcoholism
– Athletic Performance
– Analgesic
– Anaphrodisiac
– Anorexia
– Antidotal
– Antioxidant
– Asthma
– Breathing Disorders
– Central Nervous System Stimulant
– Cleansing
– Detoxification
– Diarrhea
– Diuretic
– Dysentry
– Exhaustion
– Fatigue
– Flu
– Hangover
– Headaches
– Jet Lag
– Lactogogue (increases breast milk)
– Melancholy
– Mental Fatigue
– Migraine
– Mood Disorders
– Muscular Weakness
– Nervine
– Poisoning (alcohol, atropine, opium, narcotics)
– Poultice
– Sluggish Metabolism
– Stamina
– Stomachaches
– Vascular Disorders
– Vertigo
– Weight Loss


Coffee beans, Coffea arabica L. [Fam. Rubiaceae], are the seeds of a plant native to Ethiopia. The beans are roasted, ground and brewed to make one of the two most important beverages in the western world.  Coffee contains methylxanthine stimulant alkaloids such as caffeine, also found in cola, tea, cocoa and mate. Since ancient times, Ethiopians have traditionally chewed cof. beans for their stimulant effects. It is also a folk remedy for asthma, atropine-poisoning, fever, flu, headache, hangover, jaundice, malaria, migraine, narcosis, opium poisoning, alcohol poisoning, sores and vertigo. Coffee enemas have been suggested in asthma and cancer. It is also used for treating mental and physical fatigue and melancholy. Coffee with iodine is also used as a deodorant. It’s main active ingredient, caffeine, is widely used in over-the-counter diet pills, painkillers and stimulants. It boosts energy, counteracts the sedative effects of antihistamines, and helps people to sober up after indulging in alcohol. It also improves physical stamina in athletes and has antioxidant activity. The International Olympic Committee forbids the use of more than seven cups of coffee within three hours before Olympic events. Several studies show that it helps prevent asthma attacks and caffeine opens the bronchial passages in the lungs. Coffee may also help people lose weight by increasing the metabolic rate by about 4 percent thereby boosting the number of calories burned per hour. It can also help people to overcome jet lag. Specialists recommend drinking coffee in the morning when traveling west and in the late afternoon when traveling east. In 1982, animal and human studies showed that an enzyme from green coffee beans could convert Type O blood to Type B blood. Recent reports suggest that a compound found in green coffee beans may help to prevent the AIDS virus from getting into cells and multiplying.

Active Ingredients:    

Coffee contains: In order of abundance, typical values for the water soluble constituents are: phenolic compounds (pulp) 8%, polysaccharides 6%, chlorogenic acids 4%, minerals 3%, water 2%, caffeine 1%, organic acids 0.5%, sugars 0.3%, lipids 0.2%, and aroma essential oils 0.1%. Green coffee beans contain up to 10% of chlorogenic acids, i.e., various isomers of hydroxy-cinnamoyl esters of quinic acid (a common plant constituent). Common to most plants and fruits, green coffee beans can contain as much as 10% of dry weight of chlorogenic acids, along with caffeine and caffeic acids. Chlorogenic acids are mixtures of mono- and di-esters of 3-substituted 4-hydroxycinnamic acid and quinic acid, a sugar-like molecule. In the roasting process, approximately half of the chlorogenic acids lose a molecule of water, thereby forming an internal ester bond that results in a mixture of non-acidic quinolactones (quinides).
Brewing roasted coffee causes isomerisation of the quinides. This results in hundreds of different compounds, each with unique pharmacological actions. Although few of these compounds are present in more than 0.3% of dry weight of coffee, each may contribute significantly to the effects of it and have chemical properties that allow ready entry into the brain. The pharmacological effects of chlorogenic acids or quinides are mostly unknown. One Australian study reported that 240 mg of ground coffee, approximately 1/5th of that contained in a 160 mL cup of coffee, displaced 50% of the binding of the opiate receptor antagonist [3H]naloxone. This suggests that coffee constituents may interact with the opiate system of the brain, which has been implicated in regulation of mood and well-being and in alcoholism and drug addiction. ). Among the most potent odor active constituents known to contribute to the aroma of the green beans, 3-isopropyl-2-methoxypyrazine, 3-isobutyl-2-methoxypyrazine, 4-vinylguaiacol, beta-damascenone, (E)-2-nonenal, trans,trans-2,4-decadienal, phenylacetaldehyde, and 3-methylbutyric acid were detected by GC-MS in one study. A decrease in content of methoxypyrazines and an increase in 4-vinylguaiacol and isoeugenol resulted in a dominant spicy note of monsooned coffee. These phenolic compounds exist partly as their glycosides, and their release from the bound precursors during monsooning accounted for their higher content in monsooned coffee. A considerable decrease in astringent chlorogenic acid as a consequence of hydrolysis to bitter caffeic acid was noted in monsooned coffee. [Variyar PS, Ahmad R, Bhat R, Niyas Z, Sharma A. 2003. Flavoring components of raw monsooned arabica coffee and their changes during radiation processing. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Dec 31; 51(27): 7945-50].

Suggested Amount:    

Powdered coffee beans are recommended with the dosage of 5-15 grams daily taken as an infusion. Use 1 heaping tablespoonful of roasted ground coffee beans per cup of boiling water up to three times daily. It’s caffeine content depends upon how it is prepared. A cup of instant coffee contains about 65 mg of caffeine. Drip or percolated coffee has 100 – 150mg. A cup of espresso contains approximately 350mg.

Drug Interactions:    

Coffee strengthens the action of analgesics and other psychoactive drugs and caffeine-containing beverages.  The second edition of Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions, written by a research-oriented naturopathic physician, provides a hierarchy of evidence of herb-drug interactions. The book discusses 207 herbs and 214 herb-drug interactions occurring with 79 plants. The 214 interactions include 60 occurring with caffeine-containing herbs (Coffea spp.), 13; cola (Cola nitida), 12; guarana (Paullinia cupana), 11; matι (Ilex paraguariensis), 11; and tea (Camellia sinensis), 13. All of these interactions are well documented, primarily in humans.


Coffee is contraindicated for persons with hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, anxiety, fertility problems, heart disease or cardiac disorders, gastric ulcers and duodenal ulcers. Pregnant and lactating women should also avoid the consumption of coffee and other caffeine-containing beverages and foods due to reports of an association between birth defects and caffeine consumption, although there are conflicting reports documented on this topic. Those with breathing disorders must use caffeine and other methylxanthines very judiciously because 3-10 grams can be lethal.

Side Effects:    

Side effects of coffee include sleeplessness or insomnia, anxiety, tremor, nervous restlessness, palpitations and withdrawal headaches. There is one case in the medical literature of a 25-year-old woman with pre-existing heart condition (mitral valve prolapse) who developed intractable ventricular fibrillation after consuming a “natural energy” health drink containing a high concentration of caffeine. This case highlights the need for adequate labelling and regulation of such products. It can also cause gastric irritations in susceptible persons. Individual reactions to caffeine vary, but over time, large amounts cause “caffeinism”, a condition with the same symptoms as anxiety neurosis: nervousness, irritability, chronic muscle tension, insomnia, heart palpitations, diarrhea, heartburn and stomach upset. Withdrawal headaches usually begin within 18 to 24 hours after stopping caffeine and can last up to a few days. Constipation is also possible for a day or two. Contact allergies are also possible in susceptible persons. Inhalation of coffee bean dust can produce coffee worker’s lung, a form of allergic alveolitis. Those with breathing disorders must use caffeine and other methylxanthines very judiciously because 3-10 grams can be lethal.


Castleman, M. Coffee – Beyond the Boost. 1991. The Healing Herbs. Publ. By Rodale Press. Book Reader Service, 33 East Minor Street, Emmaus, PA, 18098. Pp. 125-129.

Daglia M, Papetti A, Gregotti C, Berte F, Gazzani G. 2000. In vitro antioxidant and ex vivo protective activities of green and roasted coffee. J Agric Food Chem. 2000 May; 48(5): 1449-54.

Duke JA. 1985. Coffea arabica L. (Rubiaceae) – Arabica Coffee, Arabian Coffee, Abyssinian Coffee. In: Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, p. 130-132.

Somoza V, Lindenmeier M, Wenzel E, Frank O, Erbersdobler HF, Hofmann T. 2003. Activity-guided identification of a chemopreventive compound in coffee beverage using in vitro and in vivo techniques. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Nov 5; 51(23): 6861-9.

Shafiee M, Carbonneau MA, d’Huart JB, Descomps B, Leger CL. 2002. Synergistic antioxidative properties of phenolics from natural origin toward low-density lipoproteins depend on the oxidation system. J Med Food. 2002 Summer; 5(2): 69-78.