• The Acupuncture Clinic of Tom Ingegno L.Ac 907 Lakewood Ave Baltimore, MD 21224
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    • 21 APR 13
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    Coffee – the good, the bad and the ugly

    Columbian coffee farmer

    Many people consume coffee every day of their lives and wouldn’t dream of ever giving it up. They believe the advantages of their drinking it are greater than the disadvantages. Are they right? Let’s begin with the good points about coffee drinking.

    Coffee is known for containing many antioxidants, it helps with daily fiber intake, and it is beneficial in fatty liver diseases. It helps blood circulate, which makes it useful for older adults. In TCM terms, coffee is spicy, bitter/sweet in flavor, warming, stimulating and diuretic. It can be beneficial in conditions of excess dampness. Coffee is useful for those who are often lethargic and constipated due to eating a rich, greasy and heavy diet. Coffee enemas are used for their purgative effects in cases of asthma and cancer. Externally, coffee compresses are used to treat insect stings and bruises.

    When coffee is taken in excess, however, it can result in anxiety, insomnia or light sleep patterns, high cholesterol, heart disease and various digestive complaints. On a regular basis, even as little as two cups of coffee a day may be enough to cause these symptoms. Because of its ability to drain dampness and add heat, over time it also has the adverse effect of depleting vital yin fluids from the body. For some people drinking coffee every day causes muscles to tighten and, with women, menstrual cramps may become more intense. Studies have shown that the more coffee that is consumed, the greater the risk of developing bladder and pancreatic cancer, and heart attacks.

    Coffee contains a lot of acid which eats away the villi of the small intestine. These small hair-like projections covering the intestinal walls are responsible for nutrient assimilation and, without them, the body can become depleted of several minerals, including calcium. Acid-free ground coffee can be found in some grocery stores and special coffee makers can be purchased which will extract the harmful acids.

    If you are a coffee drinker, it would be wise to use organic whole coffee beans which can be freshly ground when needed. Insecticide and pesticide sprays, petroleum-based products and other chemicals are widely used in the production of instant, decaffeinated and regular coffee. Ground coffee goes rancid quickly, so it is advisable to keep it in the freezer. Buy fair trade coffee whenever possible to be sure of helping third world farmers directly.

    In TCM, the tongue gives a good indication of the condition of the body. If your tongue is very pale or very red, with little or no tongue coating, then drinking coffee regularly may not be beneficial for you. If you are thinking about stopping or reducing your coffee consumption, cut back slowly by diluting decaffeinated coffee with water in increasing amounts. Or try any of the following drinks during the withdrawal stages: barley and wheat grass juice for detoxifying; grain and root coffee for substitutes; and carob for calming nerves. For vata doshas, substitute brahmi tea to help with anxiety and sleep problems. Pitta doshas will benefit from brahmi or a drink made from roasted coriander seeds to reduce irritability. Kapha doshas can substitute tea made from organic ginger root powder to increase energy.

    One final note.  If you are having trouble giving up coffee or don’t know if you can, try smelling a jar or handful of organic whole coffee beans.  Sometimes just the aroma will be enough to satisfy the craving.

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