Coffee use dates back to the 1500s. Most of coffee’s medical benefits come from its high levels of caffeine. The chlorogene acid is a short-lived diuretic that helps gastric secretion, which promotes digestive health. In folk medicine, coffee was used to aid in wound care and edema.
The medicinal part of coffee is the seed, which can be found in various forms. There are no general health risks for healthy adults who are used to consuming coffee, though pregnant women should limit caffeine intake to no more than 3 cups of coffee spread throughout the entire day. Healthy adults should not consume more than 5 cups of coffee spread out over an entire day. People who have sensitive cardiovascular systems, kidney disease, and hyper function of the thyroid gland should watch their intake carefully.
The medicinal part of the plant is the seed in various forms and stages.
Flower and Fruit
The inflorescences are axillary dense clusters with 10 to 20 flowers. The sessile or very short pedicled partial inflorescences bear dense, overlapping apical leaves. The calyx is 2.5 to 3 mm long with a blunt 5-tipped border. The corolla is white and fragrant. The stamens come from the mouth of the tube and are exserted. The ripe fruit is ellipsoid, 12 to 18 mm long by 12 to 15 mm wide with a 3 to 6 mm long stem. It is initially green, later yellow and dark red when ripe. The exocarp is tough and the mesocarp fleshy and slightly sweet. The endocarp is hard. The seeds are flat-convex with a groove on the flat adaxial side. They are 8 to 12 mm long, 5 to 8 mm wide and 3 to 5 mm thick. When fresh, the seeds are gray-green. They turn brown after roasting.
Leaves, Stem, and Root
Coffea arabica is an evergreen shrub or small tree up to 8 m high with many basal branches. The young branches are glabrous and flattened, and the nodes produce many shoots. The bark of the fruiting branches is ashy-white. The leaves are 6 to 20 cm long, 2.5 to 6 cm wide and live for 2 to 3 years. They are glabrous, slightly coriaceous, dark green, glossy and elliptoid-lanceolate, with a distinct leaf tip. The border is occasionally extensively ribbed.
Coffee's area of origin is disputed, but it is now cultivated in many tropical regions of the world, including Brazil, Mexico, Columbia and Ethiopia.
Coffee charcoal is produced by roasting the outer seed parts of the green, dried fruit of Coffea arabica (and other Coffea species) until almost black, then grinding the carbonized product.
Coffee beans are the seeds of Coffea arabica, which are ripe for harvest nine months after flowering. Thereafter, they are processed using one of two methods. In the dry method, the beans are dried for 3 to 4 weeks in the sun, or mechanically with air-stream dryers. In the wet method, the beans are placed in a water-filled tank, where only the ripe ones sink to the bottom. The ripe fruit is then mechanically crushed and subsequently fermented. Fermentation lasts for approximately 48 hours (for arabica varieties). Afterward, the coffee is dried mechanically or in the sun.
Not to be Confused With
Coffee beans are not easily confused with other drugs. However, ground and roasted coffee may contain coffee substitutes such as chicory, dandelion root, figs, sugar beet root, lupin seeds, rye kernels and barleycorn.
Arabica Coffee, Arabian Coffee, Caffea
Actions & Pharmacology
Compounds: Coffee Charcoal
Purine alkaloids: main alkaloid caffeine
Carbonization products of hemicelluloses
Effects: Coffee Charcoal
Coffee charcoal contains purine alkaloids, with caffeine as the man constituent, and is absorbent and astringent.
Compounds: Coffee Beans (Seeds)
Purine alkaloids: main alkaloid caffeine (0.6 - 2.2%), with it theobromine, theophylline
Caffeic and ferulic acid ester of quinic acid: in particular chlorogenic acid
Norditerpene glycoside ester: atractylosides
Diterpenes: including the diterpene alcohol fatty acid esters kahweol and cafestol
In roasted coffee beans: numerous aromatic substances yielded from carbohydrates, proteins, fats and aromatic acids through pyrolysis
Effects: Coffee Beans
Most of the indicated effects of coffee are due to the presence of caffeine. The primary effects of caffeine can be summarized as follows: Caffeine has a positive inotropic effect. In higher concentrations, it has a positive chronotropic effect on the heart and CNS. It causes a relaxation of the smooth muscles of blood vessels (except for cerebral blood vessels) and the bronchial tubes. Moreover, caffeine works as a short-lived diuretic and produces an increase of gastric secretions and the release of catecholamines.
Caffeine works competitively to block adenosinal receptors that lie on cell surfaces in the brain, fat tissue, liver, kidneys, heart, and erythrocytes.
Heart, circulation, vessels: People who normally do not drink coffee react 1 hour after an intake of 250 gm, with an increase of 10 mm Hg in their systolic blood pressure. Habitual coffee drinkers are tolerant in this regard.
Blood: After 9 weeks of an average daily intake of 5.6 cups of coffee (steeped for 10 min.), the overall and LDL cholesterol increases significantly. The use of coffee filters can reduce this by up to 80%.
Digestive tract: Oral intake of 200 mg of chlorogene acid doubles gastric secretion, as does caffeine alone.
Miscellaneous: In animal studies, a diet consisting of 20% green coffee impedes the growth of DMBA-induced tumors in hamsters by 90%.
Outcome of the stimulating effects of caffeine commence a few minutes subsequent to taking the drug. The maximum plasma concentration of caffeine is reached between 15 and 45 minutes later. The plasma half-life amounts to 4 to 6 hours.
Coffee extracts made from roasted and unroasted seeds are used analogously with other drugs containing caffeine for physical and mental fatigue. The drink can also be used therapeutically in cases of hypotonia, as an analeptic agent, in the treatment of influenza (flu) and migraine and as an additive to analgesia.
Indications & Usage
Approved by Commission E:
- Inflammation of the mouth and pharynx
Coffee is used for nonspecific, acute diarrhea, and local therapy of mild inflammation of the oral and pharyngeal mucosa. In folk medicine coffee is also used for festering wounds.
Coffee Beans (Seeds)
Coffee is used to treat hypotonia and as a constituent of analgesics. In folk medicine coffee is also used to increase performance capability as well as for anemia, hepatitis and edema.
Uses in homeopathy include insomnia and neuralgias.
Unripe seeds are used in Indian medicine for migraine and fever; ripe seeds for diarrhea; and strong coffee to treat opium and alcohol intoxication.
Precautions & Adverse Reactions
Health risks or side effects following the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages are not recorded.
Health risks following the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages are not recorded. Quantities corresponding to as much as 500 mg caffeine daily (5 cups of coffee) spread out over the day are toxicologically harmless for healthy adults accustomed to drinking coffee. Caution is advised for persons with sensitive cardiovascular systems, kidney diseases, hyperfunction of the thyroid gland, higher disposition to convulsions and certain psychic disorders (for example, panic anxiety states). Side effects of coffee intake, mainly caused by its chlorogenic acid content, can include hyperacidity, stomach irritation, diarrhea and reduced appetite. Nonspecific symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, sleeplessness, palpitations, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and headache appear with the long-term intake of dosages exceeding 1.5 g caffeine per day. Caffeine can lead to psychic as well as physical dependency (caffeinism). Symptoms of withdrawal can include headache and sleeping disorders.
Pregnant women should avoid caffeine, under no circumstances exceeding a dosage of 300 mg per day (3 cups of coffee spread out over the day).
Infants nursing from mothers who take drinks containing caffeine may suffer from sleeping disorders.
The drug may hinder the resorption of other medicines.
Dosages exceeding 1.5 g caffeine per day can lead to stiffness, arrhythmic spasms of different muscle groups, opisthotonus, and arrhythmic tachycardia. Fatal poisonings with the drug are not conceivable. The lethal dosage (LD50) for an adult is approximately 150 to 200 mg caffeine per kg body weight (for which 50 kg body weight = 7.5 g = 75 cups of coffee), although there are cases of survival also with 106 g caffeine. The death of a child following the intake of 5.3 g of caffeine has been reported. The first signs of poisonings are vomiting and abdominal spasms. The therapy for caffeine poisoning should begin with the inducement of vomiting or gastric lavage. Afterward, activated charcoal and sorbitol should be given to retard resorption. Spasms are to be treated with diazepam.
Mode of Administration
Powdered coffee charcoal and its preparations intended for internal consumption or local application.
The average daily dose for internal use is 9 g of ground drug. The average single dose is 3 g of powder.
Coffee charcoal should be stored in well-sealed containers.
Mode of Administration
The ground beans are used in different types of infusion, i.e., cooked coffee (filter, espresso, etc.). Caffeine is used in various combinations and preparations for numerous therapeutic uses. Commercial pharmaceutical preparations include tablets, coated tablets, compresses, and diverse compound preparations.
The dried seeds are roasted until they procure a deep brown color and a characteristic aroma. This process is usually carried out in the country of consumption. During roasting, the beans float for 1.5 to 3 minutes in hot gas at 220ºC to 270ºC.
15 g drug
5 drops, 1 tablet, or 10 globules every 30 to 60 minutes (acute) and 1 to 3 times daily (chronic); parenterally: 1 to 2 mL sc acute, 3 times daily; chronic: once a day (HAB1)
The beans should be stored in sealed containers away from light and moisture.