Node Smith, ND
Studies on coffee are always fun. Anything to support our love and craving for our favorite morning beverage. A recent study from Northwestern Medicine, looked at over 800 blood metabolite changes after consuming between 4 and 8 cups of coffee.1 The study adds further research to the dozens of ways that coffee is known to affect metabolism, including the metabolism of steroids as well as neurotransmitters linked to cannabis – endocannabinoids.
Study discovered many more metabolites are changed by coffee than previously thought
The study discovered many more metabolites – chemicals that change within the blood – are changed by coffee than previously thought. One, of specific interest, were the neurotransmitters related to the endocannabinoid system. These are the neurotransmitters that are affected by cannabis and are thought to be part of a body-wide regulatory system which impacts cognition, as well as nerve and gastrointestinal function. These neurotransmitter metabolites were seen to decrease with the consumption of between 4 and 8 cups of coffee. This is the opposite of what happens after cannabis use.
Cannabinoids and endocannabinoids
The body produces its own cannabinoids, endocannabinoids, which mimic the effects that cannabis has on the body – including pain relief, appetite regulation, gastrointestinal regulation, and parasympathetic nervous system tone. The endocannabinoid system is thought to relate to how the body handles and processes chronic stress. Its effects are quite contrary to many of the effects of coffee, which is considered more of a stimulant and appetite suppressant.
In addition to the endocannabinoid system, coffee was also found to affect metabolites related to the androsteroid system. These metabolites were seen to increase after drinking 4 to 8 cups of coffee, and the conclusion is that coffee may help with the excretion of steroids. Since the steroid pathway is a primary focus for many diseases, including cancer, coffee may have an effect in these cases as well.
Over 800 metabolites were analyzed in the blood
The study itself was conducted in Finland, with 47 people who abstained from coffee for 1 month. Then they drank 4 cups of coffee a day for 1 month, and 8 cups of coffee a day for 1 month. During each stage of the study over 800 metabolites were analyzed in the blood.
- M. C. Cornelis, I. Erlund, G. A. Michelotti, C. Herder, J. A. Westerhuis, J. Tuomilehto. Metabolomic response to coffee consumption: application to a three-stage clinical trial. Journal of Internal Medicine, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/joim.12737
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Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.