Coffee- Medicinal Benefits and Properties, Chinese Perspective
here are a few rambly contemplations on coffee. I am currently working ona few projects and I have no time to write proper long blogs but this article will give you ideas about what to research next and how to observe foods in order to understand them better.
I quickly drafted this article while sipping on dandelion coffee which is rich, black, thick and bitter much like coffee. It is great for liver detox and a great way to have the same coffee ritual we all love so much. This is the one I currently have – Frontier Organic Dandelion
Coffee is a very potent plant. It has been severely overused in the west due to its yang properties. During the industrial revolution, factories needed brute force and continuous labor from their employees and coffee became the perfect substance for that.
Western medicine tends to overlook the subtleties and energy of foods and herbs and instead focuses on protein and sugar or vitamins and minerals. This type of “investigation” gives us about less than 1% of the truth.
Coffee, as we all know, has been demonized and declared UNHEALTHY by most health gurus.
I will try to give you my unbias opinion and present both the dangers and benefits of coffee.
First of all, coffee is not good for everyone. Coffee is also not bad for everyone.
It can be used as a medicinal plant in order to enhance or produce a certain physiological and mental effect in the human body.
Coffee can be used roasted or green.
If roasted then it is very yang.
Coffee is not good for everyone but to pronounce it bad for absolutely everyone is simply not taking into account its medicinal nature.
Every herb has its channels of action and they can be suitable for certain individuals while harmful for others.
Coffee has been so overconsumed in a world of people with yang excess. Understandably it has earned a bad reputation.
Now let’s look objectively at coffee.
Depending on your lifestyle and constitution coffee can be of benefit or of harm to you. It can exaggerate already present conditions.
We hear mostly about the negative sides of coffee for 2 reasons:
It has been greatly overconsummed
and most people eat a diet which is already extremely imbalanced so bringing a strong substance to an already heavy diet can just spin things out of control.
Coffee can regulate Liver Qi or Liver stagnation and thus help with regulating menstruation.
Liver stagnation usually leads to poor digestion, bitter taste in mouth, distended upper belly, nausea, irritability and anger.
Coffee also purges the gallbladder and interestingly enough statistical studies have shown coffee drinkers to have 80% less liver cirrhosis.
Now don’t go drinking coffee because of this. I simply want you to understand its action and how to balance its action out with diet, other herbs or with its complete avoidance. Yes, avoidance is necessary for many people.
Liver Qi can be very damaged by a rich western diet high in animal fats, alcohol and protein.
The bitter taste is associated with liver and liver detox.
Imagine starting your day with bacon and eggs, having a burger for lunch and steak and potatoes for dinner all drenched with a good amount of cream. Coffee to the rescue as coffee can help the liver to detox from the fats and poisons. And the person is swinging from one extreme to the other.
Coffee can pair well with the female ginseng known as angelica or peony root. Both can balance the liver qi energy.
Spleen weakness and indigestion is another area in which coffee can bring balance. It is only beneficial if the spleen is healthy. If there is a severe spleen weakness then it will further weaken the spleen.
If you feel jittery from coffee or you suffer from anxiety then it is best to avoid it.
The spleen likes sweet foods and it is very beneficial to eat pumpkins, rice and fruits in order to support it.
Spleen Qi deficiency can cause dampness, candida, bloating. Dampness in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the excess of mucus and water in the body tissues and organs. Bitter foods such as lettuce and celery have been my way of balancing the sweetness of fruits.
Traditionally it is thought that a raw diet causes dampness but in my experience, this is not true. I eat a raw diet with the addition of warming herbs – garlic in winter, hot peppers in all seasons, coffee in winter and of course steamed kabocha squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes and soups in winter. I do not suffer from bloating, stomach distention (even after baby) or other spleen weakness conditions. I also make a lot of herbal lattes all year round.
We must closely observe our body and always change and adjust our diet accordingly.
Coffee can assist in assimilation, digestion and detox but if used incorrectly it can cause all of the above.
For example, if a person has an excess of upward energy – heartburn and stomach acid, headaches and rinigng in the ears then coffee can further cause this. Coffee can also cause bloating and stomach burning if the person has an excessively hot/yang diet already. If the body is overheated by meat and alcohol then it is best to cool it off with green juice and salad. Now in my experience excessively yang people hate salads. So they just run into massive health issues a few years down the line. High blood pressure is a sign of excess yang.
Observe the seasons, observe your food. Be mindful of the energetics of food and your own tendencies and predispositions for disease and thus adjust your diet accordingly. I find it that we have to constantly rotate and change things.
Coffee moves energy upward and downward both.
All foods and herbs have either an upward or a downward energy direction. They can also move things outward (hot peppers) or inward (salt).
A balance of all of these energies is needed.
In western medicine, coffee has athletic performance-enhancing effects. It can help with respiratory function and this was one of its first medicinal applications. It was used to treat asthma.
So for me in winter and based on the fact that my diet is mostly raw and vegan in addition tot he fact that I do not have spleen weakness or Liver Qi imbalance I can benefit from half a cup of organic coffee mostly in winter and less so in summer.
It is also very anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants so paired with a very alkaline diet it can have a neutral or slightly beneficial effect on me. That being said I run into issues if I drink as much as a cup and a half a day. For me it can have a calming effect as it is both a stimulant and a sedative.
“Another lesser known alkaloid found in coffee is trigonelline, a bitter tasting chemical that gives coffee part of its characteristic aroma. Trigoneline is hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, neuroprotective, antimigraine, sedative, memory-improving, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-tumor and it has been shown to reduce diabetic auditory neuropathy and platelet aggregation. During roasting trigonelline partially degrades to produce two important compounds – pyridines and nicotinic acid. It is important to note that a very dark roast will only a fraction of its original trigonelline content but yields more nicotinic acid. Nicotinic acid or also known was vitamin B3 (niacin) has been shown to decrease unhealthy triglycerides, improve cardiovascular performance, and can protect against liver damage.”
I hope this opened questions for you and desire to investigate further. Let me know about your findings in the comments below. Let’s keep the learning going.