All the coffee in China

For decades, many natural health “know-it-alls” tried to convince people to stop drinking coffee. And, in study after study, mainstream medical researchers tried to find any shred of evidence that would “prove” coffee’s adverse effects.

Enough already.

They never found any adverse effects from moderate coffee consumption.

First of all, conclusive evidence shows drinking coffee actually benefits the brain, over the short- and long-terms. Second, coffee detoxifies the body and acts as a tonic. Third, it helps support the cardiovascular system. Lastly, coffee is full of antioxidants that have the same anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties as green tea, the darling of the natural health world. (Of course, as I explained in my April 2014 newsletter, green tea’s not all it’s cracked up to be.)

I don’t quite understand why coffee gets such a bad rep. It comes from a plant just like any other healthy botanical. So, both the natural “know-it-alls,” and the mainstream, “Johnny-come-lately” talking heads should get with the science. And get over their anti-coffee bias.

Coffee beans (actually seeds) come from plants in the genus Coffea, part of the important Rubiaceae family of medicinal plants. Abyssinian monks (who knew their herbal secrets) first brewed coffee with the Coffea Arabica seeds, which originated on the high plateau of central Ethiopia. Then, in the late 13th century, Arabs began to trade the seeds.

By the 15th and 16th centuries, people in Yemen on the southern end of Arabia (across the ocean from Ethiopia) began to cultivate the Coffea Arabica trees. Eventually, the Seljuk and then Ottoman Turks took over control of these Arabic regions, and the drink became known as “Turkish coffee.”

In Continental Europe and England during the 17th century, coffee houses became popular meeting places for philosophers such as Samuel Johnson and scientists such as Isaac Newton. Perhaps the brain benefits of coffee helped them with some of their groundbreaking thinking.

During the 17th century age of mercantile exploration, the Dutch brought coffee to Java and Sumatra in the Dutch East Indies (modern day Indonesia). Later, a plant disease in Southeast Asia during the 19th century sent coffee cultivation to Brazil and South America.

Also during the 17th century, some traders took coffee beans to India. Eventually, Chinese treasure ships came in contact with coffee. China became a major coffee producer, exporter, and consumer in the urban areas like Shanghai within a century after its introduction in Yunnan, China.

Chinese medicine actually has a long history of incorporating herbs and plants from other continents into usage–from the potent American ginseng to Native American and European folk remedies. (For more on this history, check out my book Celestial Healing.)

Plus, as I mentioned earlier, many traditional Chinese medicinal herbs come from the same Rubiaceae family of plants. In the Chinese food-medicine system, bitter coffee regulates liver qi (energy). By stimulating liver energy, bitter coffee helps you achieve a strong state of mental and physical vitality. The Chinese roast coffee seeds to modulate their effects, as they do with many other medicinal plants in China.

Coffee also purges the gall bladder. As a bitter plant, it helps with digestion by stimulating the release of bile acids from the gall bladder. This process aids with digestion and makes coffee an appropriate and popular beverage after meals.

In unroasted form, the bright red coffee bean to Chinese medicine signifies its use as a treatment for the heart. (Like the red Hawthorn berries in European folk medicine). In fact, coffee helps open the heart and warms the blood circulation.

Of course, when you add a small bit of sugar to coffee, it sweetens the taste. (But when you add sugar to bitter herbs, this sweetening doesn’t work.) Just be careful not to add much sugar if you can’t drink it black, which is best. And avoid all those artificial sweeteners that come in every possible dessert flavor.

Also, don’t get “shanghaied” by the natural “know-it-alls” who still tell you to quit your coffee habit. Studies show consuming three to four cups per day has numerous health benefits. Plus, contrary to popular belief, recent solid research on body fluids demonstrates that drinking coffee does not even dehydrate you. I busted this common myth in the October 2014 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. If you’re a newsletter subscriber, you can access that issue by logging in with your username and password at If you’re not yet a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started.