The Healthful Effects of Drinking Coffee, an Herbal Medicine .

The ability to snap you to alertness is just one of the benefits of drinking coffee. I bet you never thought of coffee as an herbal medicine, but there is more to the coffee bean than meets the eye. Although coffee has been demonized by some in our society, there are many benefits to ingesting this herbal medicine in moderation. Terry Graham, Chairman of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, is a coffee researcher and says, "Coffee is a complex beverage with hundreds, if not thousands, of bioactive ingredients, a cup of coffee is 2% caffeine, 98% other stuff." People seem to forget that the coffee bean is an herb.

Indeed, the coffee plant belongs to the Rubiaceae family, which is a source of several different Chinese medicinal herbs, including: gardenia fruit, oldenlandia, morinda, rubia, and uncaria. As an herbal medicine effects were well known by 1908 when the Indian Materia Medica was published. Towards the end of the 19th century, coffee did make its way to China, where it can now be found in every major city. Furthermore, China is already exporting coffee and is poised to become a major presence in the coffee-growing industry.

The coffee bean has the ability to improve health in several ways, as long as it is consumed at the proper dosages. Drinking coffee can increase cardiovascular health and lower the risk of colon cancer, gallstones, cirrhosis, and Parkinson’s disease (Dharmananda 2003). A typical dosage for this type of herbal medicine is in the range of 6-18 grams per day, which translates to about 1-3 cups of coffee, depending on how many grams of ground beans are used. Roasting the coffee beans does not detract from the beneficial effects of this herb.

The primary active substances in the coffee bean are chlorogenic and caffeic acids. These substances have been shown to have anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects. Furthermore, these compounds are important components of vegetables, fruits, and many culinary herbs and are thought to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Another potential beneficial effect of these herbal medicine substances is to regulate blood sugar levels by reducing the absorption of glucose (thus reducing blood glucose levels). Coffee also contains antioxidant phenols that can reduce the risk of cancer.There have been case studies done to examine the effect of long-term coffee drinking on type 2 diabetes mellitus, and it has been found that, “… long-term coffee consumption is associated with a statistically significantly lower risk for type 2 diabetes,” (Salazar-Martinez E et al. 2004).

This study by Salazar-Martinez et al. took into consideration age, body mass index, as well as other risk factors to ensure accurate results. Type 2 diabetes mellitus is associated more with behavioral and lifestyle choices than necessarily with genetics and can be brought on by obesity, smoking, and physical inactivity. Coffee, just like any other potent herbal medicine, is not necessarily for everyone, as some people may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine or another of the ingredients present in coffee, such as potassium, niacin, magnesium, and tocopherols .

However, coffee has proven to be safe for the majority of people when consumed in reasonable amounts. So start your day guilt-free with a freshly brewed cup of herbal chlorogenics, drink up and enjoy...

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