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.