The coffee plant probably originated in Ethiopia, but it arrived in Europe in the early seventeenth century on ships trading with central Asia and Middle East. First regarded as a medicine by Europeans, coffee soon became a popular social drink. The coffeehouse is a favorite American haunts today, and the average coffee drinker consumes 3 cups a day. Coffee's popularity can be attributed to its content, caffeine, which may vary in potency according to the type of coffee bean used. A natural substance found in the leaves, seeds and fruits of more than 60 plant species worldwide, caffeine stimulates the central nervous system. Research on the health consequences of caffeine consumption offers conflicting results, primarily because the response to this powerful stimulant varies considerably from person to person. But as Renaissance physician Paracelsus rightly said, "Nothing in itself is poison or cure, everything depends on the dosage."
How much is too much caffeine?
According to one study, 300-400 mg. of caffeine, 0r 3-4 cups of coffee, can cause side effects. Here is the caffeine content in three different 6 oz. cups of coffee:
Drip : 80-175 mg
Instant : 0-100 mg.
Decaf : 2-5 mg.
Coffee's main component, caffeine, stimulates the central nervous system. This is why coffee can help relieve headaches and combat fatigue and poor concentration. Caffeine also activates hormones that support cardiac, respiratory and metabolic activity. In addition, coffee increases production of gastric acid and bile and stimulates intestinal action, which for some, makes the drink a digestive aid.
Caution : However, if you suffer from ulcers, heart disease, migraines or hypertension, it might be best to avoid coffee altogether.
Coffee's effects are due to largely to caffeine, which is initially bound to chlorogenic acid in unroasted beans but is free in roasted beans. The chlorogenic acid is the acid responsible for digestive system stimulation. Coffee also contains caffeic acid as well as trigonelline and tannins. Roasting releases the essential oils, known collectively as caffeol, or coffee oil, which are the source of coffee's rich aroma and unique flavor.
Coffee after a big meal
There is a good reason for that cup of coffee after dinner. Coffee can help you digest your food; the chlorogenic acids increase the flow of digestive juices and encourage intestinal action. Coffee also keeps you from tiring out rapidly after eating a big meal.
Coffee and exercise
Consuming a moderate amount of coffee, 2-3 cups can have a beneficial effect on athletic performance, increasing energy and endurance. If you are a regular coffee drinker, though, the results will be less dramatic. To get a boost, abstain for three to four days.
Take care! : The most common side effects of too much caffeine or withdrawing suddenly from caffeine are trembling, nervousness, muscle tension, insomnia, irritability and headaches. Reduce these symptoms by tapering your coffee intake : cut back a half cup or a cup at a time at 4 to 5 day intervals over a 3 week period.
For relieving fatigue, poor concentration, migraines, headaches and digestive sluggishness.
Methods of Administration
Black coffee for migraines
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup strong black coffee
- Sugar to taste
Stir the lemon juice into the freshly brewd coffee and sweeten to taste.
Caution : those prone to migraines should refrain from consuming coffee, as well as other caffeinated beverages, on a daily basis. However, drinking strong black coffee at the onset of a migraine can constrict dilated blood vessels and alleviate migraine pain.
Orange coffee for hangovers
- ½ cup strong, hot coffee
- ½ cup orange juice
- Sugar or honey to taste
Mix the coffee with the orange juice and sweeten to taste with the sugar or honey. This orange coffee will help clear your head and expedite your recovery.
Café au lait honey for colds
- 3-5 tbsp. warm milk
- ½ cup strong, hot coffee
- 2-3 tsp honey
Stir the warmed milk into the hot coffee and sweeten with the honey. Drink this tasty homemade café au lait in small slips. This acts as a pick me up and a cold remedy. This drink is perfect for those who want to be at their best despite being ill with a cold.