This is how Chinese Medicine views coffee

by Sila Gatti on Jun 02, 2023

This is how Chinese Medicine views coffee
Let’s talk about coffee and Chinese medicine! This article will further describe what is truly happening when you drink coffee from a Chinese medicine perspective.
  • Coffee belongs to the plant family Rubiaceae, many other Chinese herbs fall under this classification and can have similar effects. The difference lies in the dosages consumed, in Chinese medicine when your practitioner prescribes you a formula the dosage of each herb is chosen very thoughtfully and most herbs that are beans in Chinese medicine are dosed at 6 to 18 grams per day. One cup of coffee offers 6 to 9 grams, however, who really drinks just one cup, not one mug, one cup. Often we are consuming nearly 4 to 6 times that! We could never expect to take 4 to 6 times the recommended dosage of any herb and not experience any adverse effects.
  • The green coffee bean according to Chinese medicine stimulates or regulates the liver qi, disperses stagnant qi, opens the heart orifice, and purges the gallbladder. When the liver qi is constrained the body will exhibit signs of being agitated and devitalized. This is part of the reason we feel an intense burst of mental and physical stimulation after consuming coffee, it’s actions listed above are also why it has the ability to promote a bowel movement, alleviate constipation, and promote urination. Initially the green coffee bean was used medicinally to regulate menstruation and stimulate the liver qi, but that was before we began roasting the beans.
  • Roasting herbs brings out their warming ability which can aggravate many symptoms if there are already signs of heat in the body or if the liver blood and yin is deficient. If you’re aggravated by too much warming you may experience hot flashes, night sweats, dizziness, and anxiety. Since coffee is a diuretic, this will cause your body to lose even more vital fluids necessary to moisten your skin and intestines. Like a plant in the sunshine, without water to balance out the sunlight, the plant becomes dry.
  • Because the green coffee bean stimulates the liver qi to move, for those with deficient qi, it can leave you feeling very ungrounded and out of balance. There is not sufficient qi to move thus scattering it across the body and creating adverse reactions. As we discussed earlier it has a very negative effect on hormonal balance and fertility. Because it moves stuck qi, some women who tend toward qi stagnation will experience calming sensations as the immediate effect. But as the day progresses the feeling of stuck qi or irritability will return because women cannot metabolize or process caffeine in the same manner as men will. It stays in our body for up to 24 hours!
  • The coffee bean also has bitter and sweet flavors associated, bitter flavor is associated with the liver and sweet with the spleen. When drinking coffee it has the ability to regulate the liver and spleen to help harmonize digestion. However, if you suffer from a weak spleen (or poor digestion), it can often cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Additionally, drinking too much coffee will agitate the liver qi further.
  • As you can see drinking coffee has many negative impacts on our bodies, it disrupts our optimal balance and hormones. If you decide to drink coffee after reading this I encourage you to listen to what your body is truly feeling. Be well!
About the author:
Kerry Goodwin is the Founder of Hearth Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine. Kerry is a board-certified Licensed Acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist specializing in the treatment of women’s health with a focus in fertility, prenatal and postpartum care. 
Kerry is a member of the Obstetrical Acupuncture Association. This association holds acupuncturists to the highest standard of education and experience in obstetric acupuncture care. Beyond the scope of women’s health, Hearth treats both women and men and provides general care for anyone looking to live a life of sustained health and well being. Kerry’s priority is to offer a supportive and healing space for patients who seek optimal health, wholeness, and balance in their lives. She aims to provide the highest level of care and compassion to her patients, providing them with all the tools they need to reach their goals of health and wellbeing by looking at the body and person as a whole, not merely a series of symptoms. In treatment she will utilize a variety of modalities through the use of acupuncture, Chinese and western herbs, lifestyle modifications, integrative care, moxibustion, cupping, nutrition therapy, and bodywork.