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Old 03-07-2006, 03:26 PM
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Thumbs up Coffee Project

Here is some information and research that you can use for research for your project. Below is the website if you have any more questions. The site also contains the history of coffee in China if you find that usefull. Also, the rest of the article is continued on the website. This may take a while to read, but is good information. Anyways, Good luck with the project!


Coffee In China

For years, Western practitioners of Chinese medicine and virtually all proponents of natural health care have tried to convince people that they should stop drinking coffee, as an important step towards becoming healthier. Coffee was blamed for contributing toxicity to the body and to "burning out" the adrenal glands, and was more generally disdained as being one of many mass market components of an unhealthy food chain. Few opponents of coffee considered it a natural herb with a history of medicinal use; instead, focus was on medical reports of adverse effects of caffeine and general impressions that stimulating beverages had to be unhealthy. As it turned out, most reports of significant adverse effects from consuming coffee or from ingestion of caffeine were incorrect, due to poor study methodology, though this does not contradict the clear potential for adverse effects from high levels of caffeine or other components of coffee. In recent years, drinking green tea, a beverage that had also been rejected by coffee opponents due to worries about its caffeine content, has been shown to be one of the healthiest of habits. The antioxidant activity of the green tea phenols (catechins) has been a major focus of attention; coffee also contains antioxidant phenols. Tea and coffee are traditional beverages with a long history of being enjoyed by billions of people. Therefore, they ought to be re-examined. Few foods or beverages are perfect for everyone, but coffee might be entirely acceptable for many people, who will do fine without being warned to stop enjoying their beverage of choice, so long as it is enjoyed in moderation. This article examines coffee from ancient and modern perspectives, with a view towards interpretation through the lens of Chinese traditional medicine, a field that has been employed to analyze virtually everything that people consume.

Coffee refers to the beans (seeds) harvested from plants of the genus Coffea of the family Rubiaceae and to the beverage brewed from it. Botanical evidence indicates that Coffea arabica, the first coffee to be widely used as a beverage, originated on the plateaus of central Ethiopia, several thousand feet above sea level. According to the Kaldi coffee legend, the potential for consuming coffee was first discovered when a goat-herder in Abyssinia, while groggily basking in the sun, observed his goats dancing on their hind legs after eating some of the red berries. He tasted the berries and his sleepy eyes opened. He took some to the village and the people there also liked it, especially the monks, as it kept them awake during their prayers. This story is somewhat like the one told for epimedium, known in China as "horny goat weed." It is said that a goat herder noticed that his herd became very ually active after grazing in a field of this herb. He then tried a tea made from the herb, with satisfactory results.

Initially, coffee was brewed from the green, unroasted beans taken from inside the red berries to yield a tea-like beverage. By the late 13th century, Arabians roasted and ground coffee before brewing it. Apparently, coffee was usually brewed by Arabian men and then given to and drunk by Arabian women to alleviate menstrual discomforts. By the 15th and 16th centuries, extensive planting of the coffee trees was undertaken in the Yemen region of Arabia. From Yemen, the use of coffee beans spread throughout the Arabian Peninsula and later to Turkey. Coffee was used for its medicinal properties and as a ritual drink. Aside from more prosaic medicinal applications, Turkish people claimed coffee to be an aphrodisiac.

Chinese treasure ships sailed in search of medicinal herbs from distant lands which were then brought back to China for incorporation into the rapidly increasing Materia Medica. However, they were unable to acquire coffee, which was intensively regulated by the Arabians. Eventually, some beans were taken to India by a Moslem pilgrim who smuggled out the fertile berries and it was cultivated there in the 17th Century. Coffee is described in the Indian Materia Medica of 1908 (1): "Coffea arabica and several other species of the plant are luxuriantly cultivated in Southern India, Madras, Mysore, Coorg, Travancore, and Cochin." Its actions and uses, described in this text are listed thus:

Actions: Cerebro-spinal, respiratory, gastric, and renal stimulant; antisoporific, efficient diuretic and antilithic; assists assimilation and digestion, promotes intestinal peristalsis, lessens tissue waste, and decreases the excretion of urea. It reduces the amount of circulating in the brain and brings it to the nervous tissues under pressure. It allays the sense of prolonged mental fatigue and keeps off sleep for some time. It increases reflex action and mental activity.

Uses: Coffee is a palliative in spasmodic asthma, in whooping cough, delirium tremens, hysterical affections, and in the palpitation of the heart; it is recommended in infant cholera; successful in chronic diarrhea. Coffee and caffeine have been used as a diuretic in dropsy….A strong cup of coffee is considered a good protection from the effects of malaria. In their raw state, coffee berries are prescribed for hemicrania and intermittent fevers. It is well known that moderate quantity of coffee is not only not harmful, but is even beneficial.

Today, about 80 percent of India's coffee is grown in the southern state of Karnataka, and is often sold as Mysore coffee, after the former name of that state. Dutch traders also brought coffee further east, to Java and Sumatra, which became famous coffee sources. Southeast Asia was on its way to being a major world source of coffee in the mid-19th century when a plant disease wiped out many of the crops, turning the world's attention to coffee from Brazil and other areas. But, the coffee plantations eventually recovered. By 1887, coffee had made its way to Tonkin, in what is now Vietnam, and from there it arrived in China, thanks to a French missionary who planted some coffee beans in Yunnan. The Chinese initially showed little interest in this drink favored by Westerners (except in places like the Western-influenced city of Shanghai), but a hundred years after its first introduction to China, China has become a major producer and an exporter of beans (green, roasted, or finished products) and coffee is offered in all major cities of China (see Appendix).

The Rubiaceae family of plants, to which Coffea belongs, is a traditional source of several Chinese medicinal herbs, including gardenia fruit (zhizi), oldenlandia (also called hedyotis; baihuasheshecao), morinda (bajitian), rubia (qiancaogen), and uncaria (gouteng). Each of these has been characterized in the Chinese system as to nature, taste, and therapeutic actions; coffee has been analyzed as a medicinal herb in the same way. It should be kept in mind that, when used as health products, herbs are given in a certain dosage range to get the desired effects. Herbs in the form of seeds and beans are typically given in dosages of 6-18 grams in one day. Though everyone has their favorite preparation, a cup of coffee is typically made from 6-9 grams of the ground beans. So, 1-3 cups of coffee is about the correct range. Many Westerners consume more (and use mugs that contain 2 or 3 cups each), so the effects in those cases, which could include some adverse effects, are not necessarily the beneficial ones typically encountered in the dosage range under consideration here.

In the Chinese medical-dietary system, the green bean of coffee would be classified as an herb that regulates liver qi, which is its therapeutic route to strong energy stimulation (attributed chemically to caffeine's action on the nervous system). The green bean is of the color of the wood element (associated with liver); more important to classification, however, is the concept that when the liver qi is constrained, the entire body energy becomes depressed. By vigorously dredging the stagnated liver qi, a strong sense of mental and physical vitality is experienced. The early use of coffee beans to regulate menstruation is consistent with the Chinese medical approach of regulating menstruation by dredging stagnant liver qi. The green coffee bean also cools the constrained liver qi. When the bean is roasted, it retains its basic medicinal properties, but transforms from a cooling herb to a warming herb. Roasting herbs is a common processing method used in China.

Coffee not only regulates the liver qi, but also purges the gallbladder. In fact, modern research in Chinese medicine suggests that most herbs that regulate liver qi have this effect on the gallbladder as an integral part of the qi-dispersing action, but some herbs have greater gallbladder purging effects than others. The liver (and gallbladder) regulating properties of coffee explain its ability to protect against formation of gallstones and its ability to alleviate constipation. This action has been attributed to chlorogenic acid and other constituents found in coffee.
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