An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.


Coffee, Arabian - Coffea arabica - family: Rubiaceae (Madder Family).

This evergreen shrub or tree grows to about fifteen feet high. It has large glossy leathery oval-shaped dark green leaves and produces scented star-shaped white flowers. The flowers are followed by fruits that each contain two reddish coffee beans (seeds). These beans are fermented and then they are roasted. They are the source of the familiar adult beverage encountered the world over. They contain significant amounts of caffeine, typically, 1 to 2%. Caffeine is a bitter white alkaloid with the formula C8H10N4O2.H2O. Coffee is traditionally used as a general mental stimulant and may alleviate mild depression. It is used as a remedy for fatigue, being tired and for headaches. Coffee charcoal, which is made by roasting the green beans until carbonized to a black color, has been approved by the German Commission E as a remedy for diarrhea and sore throats. Coffee may be useful for those suffering from low blood pressure (hypotension). Note: excessive amounts cause nervousness and insomnia. Note: if you are pregnant or nursing, use in moderation if at all, due to its caffeine content. Note: coffee is mildly addictive; its withdrawal symptoms include headaches. Note: unroasted beans may be toxic. Listed in the United States Pharmacopoeias from 1870 to 1880. It is interesting to note that caffeine is used by some plants to discourage insect attacks. In his brilliant and very readable book, A Neotropical Companion, John Kricher points out that caffeine is used by some plants to discourage insects from eating its leaves [Kricher]. In other words, caffeine is a sort of plant insecticide. Native to tropical eastern Africa. Cultivated as an ornamental house plant in North America.




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Web page last updated on 20 May 2003.