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Coffee: The Great Energy Sapper

Compiled by Frédéric Patenaude. Published in Just Eat An Apple magazine, Vol. 2, #2

Most of my readers are aware of the evils of coffee, and probably all of them have given up this habit. However, I often meet raw foodists or vegetarians who, otherwise following a healthy lifestyle, still drink coffee. It's their guilty pleasure they say. Others still have an occasional cup of green tea, maté, guarana, or other caffeinated beverages. Some may even think that these beverages are healthy. For many, it's chocolate, which gives the same strange "pleasure" as the beverages.

The effects of caffeine on the body are well researched, but you never hear about it in your newspaper. You never hear about it anywhere because the whole nation, if not the whole world, is addicted to caffeine. Doctors, journalists, scientists, writers, everyone drinks coffee. Those whose job is to inform us are usually heavy coffee drinkers. And few of them ever rise up to speak against this popular drug. But one did, his name is Stephen Cherniske, and he's a scientist who spent 10 years of his life researching the effects of caffeine on the body and compiling them in a shocking document, "Caffeine Blues."

On the first page of this book we can read: "Caffeine can't provide energy, only chemical stimulation and induced emergency state that can lead to irritability, mood swings, and panic attacks. Caffeine's ultimate mood effect can be letdown, which can lead to depression and chronic fatigue. Caffeine gives the illusion of heightened alertness by dilating pupils, quickening heart rate, and raising blood pressure. In fact, caffeine does not increase overall mental activity."

I have read "Caffeine Blues" and selected the most relevant information and quotes out of it for this article. The Great Caffeine Hoax You may have read somewhere, or have been told in school, that as long as caffeine was consumed in "moderate" quantities, it did not pose any threat to health. You were reassured. Once in a while, you may even read somewhere in the newspaper about the "benefits" of drinking coffee. So far, so good. Who could ever say anything against coffee? Mr. Cherniske responds: "I had been told only that caffeine was a mild stimulant and its association with health disorders was unproven. I was also told that caffeine is not addictive. Since I knew from my own painful experience that the opposite was true, I reasoned that perhaps I had been snowed on the whole topic."

"What I quickly learned was that everyone has been snowed - researchers, doctors, journalists, and especially the public. The deception has been well coordinated by an industry whose goal is quite simple: to get as much caffeine into our bodies as possible. The caffeine industry knows caffeine saps your natural sense of vitality, leaving you dependent on their products to get through the day. They know that you actually crave their products and, more importantly, that you suffer when you don't consume them. "It's a marketing dream, and it's legal. No wonder more and more companies are jumping on the caffeine bandwagon, churning out products from specialized coffees and teas to 'herbal' caffeinated energy pills, caffeinelaced fruit beverages, 'supercharged' soft drinks, caffeinated beer, and even caffeinated bottled water." (Caffeine Blues, page 4)

The Caffeine Stimulation: Not Energy, Caffeine is a poison.

The body has absolutely no use for it as it is a danger to its living function. It must detoxify it through the liver and reject it with great effort. The "stimulation" we feel after drinking coffee is nothing more than the expended effort in eliminating this poison. The Law of Excitation Herbert Shelton clearly explained the delusion of stimulation in his classic book, "Orthobionomics." "Whenever any irritating substance or influence is brought to bear upon the living organism this occasions vital resistance and excitation manifested by increased and impaired action, which, always necessarily diminishes the power of action and does so in precisely the degree to which it accelerates action; the increased action is caused by the extra expenditure of vital power called out, not supplied, by the compulsory process, and therefore the available supply of power is diminished by this amount…" "Under all circumstances, vitality or energy of any character whatever is invariably manifested or noticed by us, as energy, in its expenditure, never in its accumulation." In other words, what appears to give us energy is draining our energies. The stimulation people get from drinking coffee is an expenditure of vital forces, not real energy which can only come from rest.

Cherniske who well understands this, wrote: "Caffeine does not provide energy - only chemical stimulation. The perceived energy comes from the body's struggle to adapt to increased blood levels of stress hormones... Using coffee for mood enhancement is a short-term blessing and a long-term curse. While the initial adrenal stimulation may provide a transient anti-fatigue 'lift,' caffeine's ultimate mood effect is a letdown, either subtle or profound. Advertisers and coffee 'institutes' have kept this side of caffeine from public view... "While caffeine users may feel more alert, the experience is simply one of increased sensory and motor activity (dilated pupils, increased heart rate, and higher blood pressure). The quality of thought and recall is improved no more than the quality of music is improved when played at a higher volume or speed." The energy we get from caffeine is similar to the "energy" a horse gets when whipped. It is not energy gained but power spent responding to an injury.


About tolerance to caffeine, he says: "What is tolerable for one person may be excessive for another. Moreover, what is tolerable caffeine intake at some point in your life may actually cause health problems just a few years later." (Caffeine Blues, page 8) We often hear that caffeine is only bad when consumed in excess, but when taken in small quantities it is not dangerous, and could even be beneficial, raising "mental alertness." But since when can a poison be good for you? "... of all the thousands of research papers that have been published on caffeine, none have concluded that caffeine is good for you."

The truth is that the moderate coffee drinker is a rare gem, because coffee is so addictive that most consumers eventually end up drinking quite a bit. And the "average person" is a myth anyway. This person described by scientists in their research papers when they statistically analyze caffeine consumption simply does not exist. Not everyone reacts to a poison the same way, not everyone can detoxify it at the same rate, and not everyone consumes the same dose. Those who are purified by, for example, a raw vegan diet, will react more strongly to caffeine than the average person. Children are more affected too, because their organism is purer. So the same dose of caffeine will have different effect on different people. So we can see the fallacy of recommending "moderation" - because it doesn't mean anything. Moderation can only concern the healthy factors of life, not those that are damaging to it. Moderation in them is impossible. Any quantity will be an excess.

But how did we come to drink coffee? It seems that coffee beans were used as a drug long before they were used as a food. The practice of giving toxic substances to the sick has been in vogue for a long time and has not changed much today. A large percentage of today's pharmaceutical drugs contain caffeine as one of their "active ingredients." "It was not until the thirteenth century that Arab monks made a revolutionary discovery. Roasted coffee beans could be made into a drink. No more falling asleep at prayers! The news spread from monastery to monastery, then hit the streets in the world's finest coffeehouses." (Caffeine Blues, page 14)

"When coffee was first brought to European cities in the seventeenth century, people were repelled by its color and taste. They complained that it smelled and looked like roofing tar. But after they experienced its stimulating effect, the beverage was quickly proclaimed to be one of nature's miracles. Historians record this phenomenon without noticing the irony of what they are writing. Caffeine is, after all, a psychoactive drug, and human beings tend to crave substances that alter their states among them caffeine, morphine, nicotine, and cocaine. Indeed, all of these alkaloids are chemically related and, while they produce widely different effects, all are poisonous." (Caffeine Blues, page 17)

Now coffee has conquered the world to the point where almost everyone drinks coffee, if not tea, if not another type of caffeinated beverage, such as coca-cola. Americans are the largest coffee drinkers in the world - with a dazzling record of 420 million cups drunk every single day.

Toxicity of Coffee

Coffee is not a food, it is not a drink - it's a poison. It's a "mild" drug containing a whole array of toxic substances. In addition to caffeine, coffee contains hundreds of volatile substances including more than 200 acids. These the body must reject by a great expense of energy, which is the strange stimulation perceived as "energy." "Caffeine is a biological poison used by plants as a pesticide. The caffeine gives seeds and leaves a bitter taste, which discourages their consumption by insects and animals. If predators persist in eating a caffeine-containing plant, the caffeine can cause central nervous system disruptions and even lethal side effects. Most pests soon learn to leave the plant alone." (Caffeine Blues, page 17) But humans have fooled their instincts and tastes bud and transformed coffee into a drinkable beverage, often mixed with milk and sugar. The same holds true for chocolate. No one would ever think of eating cocoa beans, because of their horrible taste. So we mix it with sugar and fat and call it chocolate. But our sense of taste was right in detecting that poison - used by the plant as a pesticide to repel insects.

Caffeine, like theobromine (found in chocolate), has to be detoxified by the liver, and injures it overtime. Caffeine is a poison for the liver. But caffeine is not the only toxic substance in coffee. "Remember that coffee contains a host of chemicals, not just caffeine, among them a group of extremely toxic compounds known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). You might remember them as the cancer-causing agents isolated from barbecued meat." (Caffeine Blues, page 53)


Chocolate contains a small amount of caffeine, but also contains a good amount of another substance called theobromine. This is an substance analogous to caffeine, producing similar physiological effects. When you combine the caffeine and the theobromine contained in a one-ounce piece of chocolate, you end up with the stimulating power of 40 milligrams of caffeine!

But everyone drinks coffee!

"When it comes to coffee, the most common reaction I hear is, 'How can it be bad for you? People have been drinking coffee for centuries.' "To a scientist, this observation is meaningless. History is filled with cases where millions of people made serious mistakes. There are herbs in China, for example, that have been used medicinally for thousands of years, and are still being used to treat sinus congestion. But repeated use of these herbs over time can cause cancer of the nose and throat. Epidemiologists (scientists studying the distribution of disease in populations) have estimated that this habit has caused premature and painful death for millions of Chinese people. Clearly, great numbers of people can be wrong, especially when they don't know the facts." (Caffeine Blues, page 49)

I have a saying: A lot of what popular wisdom holds true is wrong. With so much misinformation spread today, I rarely say this line inappropriately. "You should also question the sanity of common statements that we hear from friends, celebrities, and co-workers. In the movie Shadow of a Doubt, Joseph Cotten's famous line was, 'I can't face the world in the morning. I must have coffee before I can speak.' Now, substitute for the word coffee any other drug, say amphetamines. If a person said he or she can't face the world without amphetamines, we'd call him or her an addict. We'd whisk the person off to rehab and maybe even throw him in jail. But because coffee is a drug we consume ourselves, we wink and nod and say, 'Yeah, ain't it the truth!'" (Caffeine Blues, page 50)

Caffeine and Impaired Digestion

"Impaired digestion is more of a problem than most people realize - and it gets worse with caffeine. That jumbo 32-ounce soft drink or the double espresso we have with meals is a major contributor to the bloating, pain, and gas that roughly 50 percent of American adults experience after they eat. And these symptoms are only the physical signs of indigestion. Unseen are the harmful by-products of fermentation and putrefaction. Some of these by-products are absorbed back into the bloodstream, and the toxins that stay in the gut increase your risk of gastrointestinal disease." (Caffeine Blues, page 60)

Caffeine and Sleep Disturbance

"There is a popular notion that coffee before 3 P.M. can't disturb your sleep. In fact, caffeine at any time of the day can cause sleep problems, especially if you are under stress." It seems that caffeine disturbs the most important phase of sleep, the deep-sleep phase. It's a vicious circle: caffeine intake leads to decreased sleep quantity, which leads to increased caffeine intake, which leads to decreased sleep quality, which leads to disease and fatigue, which leads to increased caffeine intake, and so on.

"We also tend to think that caffeine-related problems are mostly experienced by people in the workforce. In reality, those hardest hit appear to be the elderly. Oven though seniors tend to cut back on coffee, the caffeine they do ingest is detoxified much more slowly and their nervous systems are much more sensitive than those of younger people. Research is now showing that sleep disturbance among the elderly is a major factor not only in age-related physical degeneration but in mental degeneration as well." (Caffeine Blues, page 85)

Caffeine & Malnutrition

Coffee also causes many nutritional deficiencies. Poisons in tea and coffee, including caffeine, cause an increased loss of B vitamins in the urine. There is also a loss of calcium. "Research just published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism found that caffeine increased potassium loss by nearly one-third. To make matters worse, such mineral loss appears to be accelerated when caffeine is mixed with sugar. Studies show that the mechanism behind this mineral-wasting phenomenon may have to do with the fact that caffeine impairs the kidney's ability to hold on to calcium, magnesium, and other minerals. Most recently, zinc was added to the list of nutrients depleted by caffeine." (Caffeine Blues, page 90) To add to this list, iron absorption is also impaired when caffeine is taken.

Caffeine and Mental Illness

I have known for a long time that even a moderate caffeine intake may cause a small depression, the "blues." I have noticed this on myself a couple years ago when I started drinking green tea, thinking that this beverage only had a tiny amount of caffeine in it. I couldn't fall asleep before 2 a.m. and started to experience a mild depression. As soon as I discarded the green tea, it went away. How many people feel depressed and tired for no apparent reason? And how many of them drink coffee or tea and can't give it up? "If a person were injected with 500 milligrams of caffeine, within an hour he or she would exhibit symptoms of severe mental illness, among them, hallucinations, paranoia, panic, mania, and depression. But the same amount of caffeine administered over the course of a day only produces the milder forms of insanity for which we take tranquilizers and antidepressants." (Caffeine Blues, page 124)

Coffee and Constipation

"... many people claim that caffeine helps them maintain normal bowel regularity, but that is the same as relying on laxatives. Either way, you're using a drug to induce bowel movements, and ultimately many coffee drinkers become dependent on this laxative action. Without the caffeine stimulation, they experience what is known as 'rebound constipation.' (page 173)

Caffeine and Headaches

"Forty-five million Americans suffer from chronic headaches. Seventeen million are migraine sufferers." "The person with a headache doesn't know that it was caused or triggered by caffeine, so he or she looks for a painkiller (analgesic). Studies show that in 95 percent of cases, the analgesic drug contains caffeine. Such painkillers work, especially if the headaches was caused by caffeine withdrawal, but the caffeine ultimately triggers another headache. Ultimately, the hapless sufferer becomes dependent on the painkiller for even a modicum of relief, but the headaches increase in frequency and intensity. This may go on for many years, creating a cycle of pain and depression that destroys the quality of life." (Caffeine Blues, page 185)

"A caffeine deprivation (withdrawal) headache results from the normal opening (dilation) of blood vessels that are constricted by caffeine. In other words, habitual caffeine intake keeps blood vessels in the brain constricted. When caffeine is not consumed, these blood vessels return to their normal blood-flow potential, and it is this increased circulation in the brain that causes the throbbing agony of a caffeine withdrawal headache." - (Caffeine Blues, page 186)

Adrenal Exhaustion

"Caffeine contributes to adrenal exhaustion, wherein a raft of important hormones are depleted. The destruction is not silent. You'll feel it every day in many ways as you simply can no longer command the vitality necessary for what were once everyday tasks." (Caffeine Blues, page 197)

Caffeine and Women

"Compared to men, research shows that caffeine is much more damaging to women, producing adverse effects at lower intake. The effects are even more far-reaching when you consider the harm caffeine does to fetuses and nursing babies." (Caffeine Blues, page 225) Here are other facts about caffeine concerning women: caffeine causes iron deficiency; increases calcium loss and risk of osteoporosis; caffeine produces short-term mood elevation, but contributes to rebound depression.

Ecology: pesticides, rain forest destruction and land use issues.

Coffee is the most important crop in the world. More than wheat, rice, corn, or livestock. More than fruit, more than vegetables, or any other staple crop - coffee is number one. More than cars, more than steel, more than everything, only third next to petroleum and some metals used to make weapons. The reason: coffee is a drug, nearly everyone is addicted to it, and it's part of the culture. Coffee also happens to be one of the most heavily sprayed agricultural crops. In the countries where it is grown, there are few restrictions concerning pesticide use, where there are fewer laws to protect workers and the environment.

"Coffee plantations use huge amounts of pesticides that pollute the land, rivers, and destroy plant and animal life around them. The beans go off to market, but what happens to coffee pulp and the processing water? This water, now laden with pesticides, fungicides, and nitrogenous waste, goes directly into local streams, rivers, and lakes. With no filtration or reconditioning, the water pollution harms aquatic life as well as the health of people who live alongside those same bodies of water. And the coffee pulp? It sits in huge, rotting piles, leaching out its high nitrogen discharge into the groundwater and eventually into the same polluted waterways." (Caffeine Blues, page 276) Cherniske also mentions in his book how coffee plantations have probably contributed to the destruction of Rain Forests more than any other crop in the world, since large portions of the forest are destroyed every year to make room for the coffee plantations. Coffee culture is labor-intensive and requires large portions of land and resources.

These are astronomical numbers once you get your calculator out and consider that the world demand for coffee is 13 billion pounds a year. Since the average plant produces one to two pounds of roasted coffee a year, this will require 7 billion trees. Judging from what the average farmer can get from one acre, it ends up that 70 million acres are devoted to grow this non-food, this drug, this poison that contributes to human suffering and ruins the health of the millions without their being aware of it. 70 million acres devoted to the culture of coffee. Let's ponder that for a moment. 70 million acres... If we add to that the land devoted to cacao culture (for the making of chocolate), tea leaves culture, sugar cane (for the making of sugar), and grape culture (for the making of wine), we would arrive at frighteningly high numbers. Hundreds of millions of acres of the most fertile land in the world exclusively devoted to the culture of non-foods and beverages that contribute to the suffering of humanity. Why talk about a lack of food? We're simply cultivating the wrong plants for the wrong purposes!

The corruption of the health food industry

"Until the 1990's, caffeine was one of the no-nos of the health-food industry, like sugar and white flour. Caffeine-free herbal teas got their start in the health-food industry, where caffeine-free products have traditionally been the hallmark of natural food choices. Now those same stores have huge display bins full of coffee beans and many have coffee bars serving pumped-up caffeine concoction. How did this happen? (Caffeine Blues, page 266) "The face of the industry changed as the original visionaries sold out to conglomerates for whom profit superseded health principles. The proliferation of organic coffee bins in natural food stores took off, and before you knew it, manufacturers of health food products discovered what the food and beverage industry has known for decades: Caffeine sells." (Caffeine Blues, page 267)

Coffee replacement and giving up coffee

We know it: giving up coffee is rarely easy, especially for those who have been drinking a few cups a day for many years. The detoxification symptoms can include headaches, depression, tiredness, and many more discomforts. Cherniske mentions a plan where one can give up coffee with little discomforts, by gradually replacing coffee with herbal replacements until no more coffee is drunk. However, this process seems a bit long, and I personally would recommend a more radical method, but people will go with what they think they can do best. It takes 60 days for your body to eliminate all the caffeine and really see the results. But this could be accelerated by a short fast, or a raw food, eliminating diet, such as a strict raw fruits and vegetables diet. There are coffee replacements that can be used to give up coffee.

Health food stores now offer a wide range of products, usually made from roasted cereals, that have a similar taste to coffee. However, you have to make sure that you buy genuine, caffeine free replacements. Items such as guarana, kola nut, green tea, maté tea, and ephedra are just other plant sources of caffeine and other stimulant drugs. They impair the body's functions just like coffee does. There is also a new product called "Teeccino" that brews like regular coffee but does not contain any caffeine or any coffee beans. It is made from dates, figs, carob, barley, etc. It can be found in many health food stores or ordered from: Teeccino Caffé, Inc P.O. Box 42259, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, 800-498-3434,; Email:

Caffeine Blues makes a great gift for your coffee-drinking friends. Order on the Internet, go to:


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