Coffee from Tibetan Medicine Perspective
Tibetan medicine has a personalized approach to treatment, and nothing is only black or white. Coffee, as many dietary items, can be both medicine and poison. That's why you need to know what kind, when, how much and for whom it can bring beneficial effects. There are also amazing coffee alternatives that I am going to talk about in this article.
Kinds of Coffee
First of all, let's talk about what kind of coffee would have health effects. When we consume so much of it, the quality really matters. The best is of course organic – pesticides free coffee. Fresh organic coffee contains many antioxidants and some research stated drinking expresso 6 times par day had actually a good effect on liver.
However, be ware of mold in coffee. 50-80% of the coffee contains mold, and mold can trigger inflammation in sensitive people. The other thing, better to not overroast coffee, as burning increases the acrylamide – the carcinogenic substance, now linked to the urinary bladder cancer (guess how coffee is being eliminated - through kidneys and urinary bladder. You might have noticed it has a diuretic effect).
If you are caffeine sensitive, coffee alternatives may be very helpful. Chicory, dandelion root, barley coffee are a safer choice. My favourite coffee substitute is roasted dandelion root drink. It has a nice taste and is a strong antioxidant; in traditional Tibetan medicine dandelion root helps functions of liver and gall bladder, balances blood sugar and cholesterol, and has an anti-inflammatory effect by reducing Bile (Tripa) element.
Here we talk about personalized medicine. In Sowa Rigpa we have a rough division of 7 body constitutions according to the elements/humors predominance. The coffee with its bitter taste and rough qualities, are indicated first of all for Water- Earth (Beken, Phlegm) types of people and their combinations. Then it could be used by Fire type (Fire, Tripa), or Tripa- Beken. The constitutions which will be much aggravated by coffee is Lung,or Lung-Tripa. For me, being this body type, coffee drives me into insomnia. And those who have or had burn-out syndrome (in Functional Medicine connected with adrenal fatigue), anxiety, lack of concentration, bipolar disorders and many other symptoms from nervous system (linked in TTM with increase or imbalance of Wind element), should be very careful with coffee. It increases Lung, and may, despite a short term energizing, worsens the overall health, deepening the imbalance.
For such cases (and not only), I would recommend adding some butter or coconut oil to your coffee. You might have heard about it as a Bulletproof coffee, but actually Tibetans have been drinking this kind of butter drinks since ancient times. It is nourishing, gives lots of energy and a great clarity of mind.
Do not start with coffee as first thing in the morning - first drink some warm boiled water, to start and cleanse your digestive tract. You can then enjoy your cup of coffee with a nice breakfast or at lunch. Check for yourself how many cups and how late you can drink it – your body will tell you this the best, if you listen to it.