Caffeine is the most popular mood-altering drug in the world and a daily habit for millions (or billions?) of people. Whether it's savored in coffee, sipped in tea, devoured in chocolate or downed in cola we can't seem to get enough. Though mostly embraced as a concentration booster, workout and memory enhancer, caffeine has also been blamed for hypertension, sleep disturbances, stress and in some extreme cases, death.

Stay alert and join us for this episode of The Health and Wellness Show where we explored the ups and downs of this cherished substance, its 'addictive' properties, withdrawal symptoms, side effects and medicinal uses. Note: We talk about coffee. A lot.

Also stay tuned for Zoya's Pet Health Segment where she tells us about a coffee-drinking cat that lived to 34 years old!

Running Time: 01:18:07

Download: MP3

Here's the transcript of the show:

Doug: Hello and welcome to The Health and Wellness Show on the SOTT Radio Network. I am your host Doug, today is February 23rd, Friday. With me in the virtual studio from all across the planet are Elliot, Tiffany and Erica. Welcome everybody.


Doug: Today on The Health and Wellness Show, we are going to be talking about the controversial topic of caffeine; Hello Darkness My Old Friend: The Ups and Downs of Caffeine. So, caffeine is the most popular mood altering drug in the world and a daily habit for millions, or maybe even billions of people. Whether savoured in coffee or sipped in tea, devoured in chocolate, downed in cola or other various energy drinks, we can't seem to get enough.

Today we are going to be talking about caffeine along with all the different things that go with it, the ups and the downs.

Tiffany: We are especially going to be talking about coffee.

Doug: For sure.

Tiffany: I think that's everybody's favourite. If you count kids into this then I think we have to talk about chocolate a lot too.

Doug: Yeah, that's true. It's funny because coffee is certainly considered an adult's drink, but kids are getting it too. Especially kids who are drinking soda regularly, and chocolate, like you mentioned. Then, you have to take into account all the energy drinks and stuff like that which are coming out; I know kids are getting jacked on those things all the time.

Erica: Even stimulants like guarana root which is in a very popular ice cream or shake called acai. Have you guys heard of acai? It's a Brazilian berry.

Tiffany: Acai berry?

Erica: They make ice cream out of it or a smoothie and it's not got caffeine but it's a stimulant. It's like mate where it's 3-5 times stronger than caffeine. I say that in relation to kids because a lot of times parents think "I'm going to give my kid this healthy acai berry shake" and then the kid just goes crazy.

Doug: It's funny because I don't think kids really need stimulants in a lot of cases. Kids tend to be pretty crazy and energetic anyway and I think that especially with the crap that is put into a lot of food a lot of the time the kid's reaction to that is to get super stimulated. I'm thinking of food dyes and things like that where they have actually done some studies on processed food ingredients and it just makes kids go absolutely crazy. So, to add caffeine on top of that is pretty crazy.

Erica: In added note to that is though is when you think about kids that are hyperactive or attention deficit and they give them ritalin or adderall which is basically speed.

Tiffany: That slows the kids down. It has the opposite effect.

Erica: That's what I mean. I've tried coffee and caffeine for hyperactive children; I've experimented.

Doug: Did it work?

Erica: Yes, actually it did. [Laughter]

Doug: It's crazy because it's one of those things where it seems to be like a certain subset of people who react in the complete opposite way that you would expect, with various things. Like herbs: valerian root is supposed to be a very calming herb that helps you to sleep, but there are people who get jacked on it. It's a small subset but it's a thing where people have the absolute opposite effect. I've heard of people who react like that with caffeine, certain people will take caffeine - they will have a cup of coffee or something like that - and they will fall asleep. It's weird.

Elliot: One of my lecturers says that she can have a coffee just before going to bed; literally a few minutes before going to bed; she says it helps her sleep. [Laughter] I can't.....

Tiffany: Oh, he left!

Erica: He had to get another cup of coffee!

Tiffany: We lost Elliot.

Doug: We lost Elliot.

Tiffany: They put caffeine in all these weight-loss supplements too because it allegedly speeds up your metabolism.

Erica: No-doz?

Tiffany: Yeah, No-doz.

Doug: They put it in cough syrup too.

Tiffany: They put in some pain relieving medications because it's supposed to boost the pain relieving effects. Excedrin has caffeine in it.

Erica: So does Midol.

Doug: It brings up an interesting question because is caffeine actually a drug?

Tiffany: It is a central nervous stimulant. It is not as potent as street-drugs, but it does have an effect.

Doug: A drug-like effect. It's interesting though because there seems to be some controversy over whether or not it is actually addictive, because some people certainly consider it addictive, like they don't function without their morning cup of coffee. It seems to have some sort of addictive properties, it's even in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition). Coffee withdrawal is a new kind of crazy apparently.

Experts on addiction say that it is not actually addictive because you might suffer some effects if you go without your coffee but usually you are over that in a couple of days. The one example I read was like "if coffee is addictive, have you ever known anybody to hold up a store to get money for coffee?" It doesn't usually happen that way.

Erica: An added note to that though is if you have ever been in line to purchase coffee people are super on-edge and unpleasant, or if you have ever served coffee to the public people are snippy and impatient.

Tiffany: People do say that they use the word addicted when they talk about coffee. I'm addicted to coffee, I have to have my coffee. Don't talk to me before I have my coffee in the morning.

Doug: There certainly seems to be a certain level of dependence there, but I myself decided at one point fairly recently that I wanted to cut coffee for a while. So, I cut it out for close to a month and I really didn't notice that much. The withdrawal symptoms were that at first I was kind of irritable and whatever, but after a couple of days I was back to pretty normal functioning.

I don't know if that is just me and I'm not somebody who requires it and develops a dependence on it? When I went back to it I didn't really notice that much either. To me, it doesn't seem like it's addictive. It's certainly not addictive in the same way that other drugs are, I would say.

Erica: I think it's a habit.

Tiffany: Like smoking

Erica: Yeah. It becomes habitual.

Tiffany: I have heard about people quitting coffee and they have headaches and they are very irritable.

Elliot: My question is, where do you draw the line between calling something a drug and calling something a nutrient? There seems to be a crossover in many different contexts. For instance, a vitamin is considered a nutrient but it could also be considered a drug in certain circumstances. For instance, if you have got someone who has got something like refeeding syndrome, you administer intravenous vitamin B-1 and that almost acts like a drug in that instance.

Whereas, normally you would get vitamin B-1 from your diet. With other vitamins, like vitamin D and vitamin A, also have hormonal properties. So, people call them nutrients but they are actually endogenous hormones. If you are taking a vitamin A supplement you could say that you are taking a nutrient supplement but you are also kind of taking a hormone, and a hormone is classed as a drug. So, how do we classify a drug?

Ray Peat goes as far as to talk about how he thinks that caffeine is similar to a vitamin in that it's not only necessarily just a stimulant, but it also possesses so many other properties that hormones and vitamins have as well. Maybe it's a question of semantics, I don't know.

Doug: To me, it seems as if something is going to be a vitamin, it has to be something that the body actually depends on and will die without. We know that caffeine doesn't really fit into that category because there are plenty of people that don't get caffeine in their diet. To me, it seems like a bit of a stretch to call caffeine a vitamin or a nutrient, but I don't know maybe it is just semantics, maybe there is more to it.

Elliot: I agree, because the definition of a vitamin is something that is absolutely essential. In terms of nutrients, you have phytochemicals and things which aren't actually essential but they are still considered to be nutrients. Is caffeine a nutrient for some people? Does it benefit them in a way that a phytonutrient would or is it that it's just like a drug? I don't know.

Tiffany: Maybe that's it. Maybe it just depends on the individual and what their specific needs are or what their deficits are, whether they would benefit from coffee or whether they would just experience a bunch of side-effects.

Erica: Maybe we should mention that in some of the reading we did we read that caffeine resembles the brain chemical adenosine: the neurotransmitter. When caffeine molecules take the place of the adenosine and bind to receptors in the brain it blocks the sleep reducing actions.

Doug: Which is why it wakes you up. It has a natural affinity for those adenosine receptors and will attach to them. So, that blocks the natural adenosine from actually binding and making you tired.

Tiffany: Only for some people though.

Elliot: An easy way to think of that is that basically when your brain works really hard it produces loads of by-products, and one of those is a build-up of this adenosine. Ideally, before you go to bed at night time there should be more adenosine which conveys the message, like you just said, that your brain has done a tonne of work today so you are probably ready to go to sleep. Whereas, when you have the coffee it blocks that message so you can power through. I think that is theorised to be the main reason why it has such a stimulating effect.

Tiffany: There are also people who are anti-coffee, or anti-caffeine, who say that too much coffee - I guess too much would need to be defined depending on the individual - can over-stimulate your adrenal glands to produce adrenaline which will put your body into fight-or-flight mode. It can also stimulate the production of norepinephrine and epinephrine. Maybe that's why some people get jittery when they drink coffee.

Doug: I'd like to know more about that actually. Maybe Elliot can help us out here because my own personal experience with coffee is that when I first started drinking coffee I would get super jittery and out of control, but I found that the quality of coffee seemed to matter a lot with that.

What Dave Asprey says a lot is that a lot of the negative effects from coffee have nothing to do with the caffeine, it has more to do with it being a crappy quality of coffee and it having a lot of mycotoxins and toxic substances that are actually causing the jitteriness and overstimulation.

If you have a good coffee that has just got caffeine in it then it doesn't usually have that effect. I noticed that myself, so I wonder if the adrenal response has more to do with these other constituents that are in the coffee and not the caffeine itself. I guess if somebody is doing a study on caffeine and not coffee and they are finding that it causes an adrenal response then I guess that throws that out the window.

Elliot: I think it is highly individualised. So, their own genetic predispositions affect how well someone tolerates caffeine or coffee. There is one polymorphism on the CYP1A2 gene, and what that means is basically when you drink coffee it goes to the liver and it is metabolised by the liver. This particular gene is responsible for producing the proteins which metabolise it.

What can happen is when someone has a genetic mutation in this specific gene it means that they can either metabolise it too fast or faster than ordinarily, or they metabolise it slower. The people who metabolise it faster seem to be able to tolerate it much better.

It means that the half-life is reduced so someone can drink a cup of coffee at 10 o'clock in the morning and the effect of the caffeine may actually be halved within an hour, whereas if you have someone with the mutation in this gene which means that you metabolise it slower then they could have a cup of coffee and they would still be feeling the effects of the caffeine 10 hours later.

I think that is one of the factors involved here and it's probably one of the factors which governs whether someone becomes jittery or not. On the topic of adrenalin, this is a really interesting subject and there are loads of different perspectives on this as to why certain people respond differently; why it activates the fight-or-flight response in some people.

I have experimented with this myself and what I have found is - and it's been really difficult - I've had to be really strict with myself and change my whole morning routine completely. I used to wake up in the morning and drink coffee first thing and I used to absolutely love that morning coffee. Then, what I started doing was I tried an experiment and I started to have breakfast instead. I would always have a really big breakfast as soon as I woke up; within about half an hour.

Then, maybe half an hour after that I would have my first coffee. The result that I found was that coffee before breakfast really did activate that adrenalin response and I would get a fast heartbeat and I would become sweaty around the armpits; whereas, when I had it after breakfast that did not happen, full stop. This has not happened since I changed my routine.

The only way that I can try to explain that - which is in line with what a couple of other people in the health field theorize - is that caffeine or other compounds in the coffee - probably the caffeine - increases the metabolic rate. They increase the rate by which you use sugar and fat.

If you imagine, you go a whole night's sleep and when you are sleeping throughout the night what happens is you deplete your store of liver glycogen, which is basically your store of sugar. You wake up in the morning and you need to replete that glycogen by eating food.

To put this in an easily explainable way, if you drink coffee and it raises your metabolic rate then that means that you need the resources to meet that metabolic rate. You are using more fuel so need enough fuel to be able to burn that fuel, are you following? If you have it before having a meal, the chances are you have not got much liver glycogen, so what happens is that when your body determines that it doesn't have enough fuel to meet the requirement then it activates the fight-or-flight response.

That is partly why adrenaline and cortisol are released; to break down your stored tissue to meet the higher rate of metabolism. In this context, if you drink a coffee after breakfast you are theoretically in a state where you have enough fuel to be able to meet the requirement and you won't have to rely on the fight-or-flight response to do that.

Doug: What if somebody is in fat-burning mode where they are ketogenic? Then, would the body still activate the fight-or-flight response or would it just burn more stored fat?

Elliot: I have absolutely no idea. I haven't done it when I have been in ketosis. That changes the whole game. I think that changes it. I would imagine that you would probably be less susceptible to undergoing a stress response if you were in ketosis because the main fuel that coffee actually activates is fat-burning.

It does activate sugar burning to some extent but it really just increases lipolysis, and that's not just an adrenaline mediated phenomena, that is actually at a cellular level. I don't know, but I would imagine theoretically that if you were in ketosis then you might be less likely to be stressed from coffee but someone else would have to try and verify that because I don't know.

Erica: I agree with what you are saying about waking up first thing and drinking it Elliot. I drink coffee, I used to drink a lot more but I would get up in the morning and do the same thing: drink coffee first. I would start having all those symptoms that you talked about, but then I realised that it would be best to eat breakfast first and then have the coffee and I didn't have any of those side-effects. I notice a lot of people drink coffee and then don't eat at all too. It's almost like an appetite suppressant.

Doug: I used to do that when I was more hardcore keto and a much more avid reader of Dave Asprey and I would wake up in the morning and have my butter coffee with the MCT oil and everything. What he would say is that that doesn't break your fast as long as all you are having is fat you don't actually break your fast so I imagined that I was in a fasted state and maintained that until lunchtime.

Since then, it has come about with further research that people have been doing that no, you aren't maintaining your fasted state even if you only have fat. If you have anything you are activating your body's enzymes etc. Your body doesn't feel like it's fasted at that point. So, I stopped doing that a while ago. I would go just on coffee until noon or 1 o'clock and although I was fine with that I don't know if it was the best thing for me.

Tiffany: I think a lot of people also drink coffee whether they are "addicted" or not, but they have a habit of drinking coffee because they notice that coffee helps them to have a bowel movement in the morning; I know a lot of people who do that. Actually, there is truth to that; not just because of their anecdotal testimonies.

I think it was in the early 1900's or 1800's - probably after the advent of bowel surgeries - that the doctors in hospitals noticed that after a patient had bowel surgery they would have them drink coffee because it woke their bowels up and they would be able to have a bowel movement and take food and they could be discharged from the hospital earlier; versus patients who just drank water. There would be a day or two difference between them having a bowel movement and being able to eat.

Doug: That's interesting.

Elliot: Wow. I definitely notice that.

Doug: Me too.

Elliot: It's prokinetic in that sense. It's great if someone tends towards being constipated or something. In some of the protocols I have looked at for different digestive issues if someone has got small intestinal bacterial overgrowth then the idea is that you want to promote that prokinetic action of the small intestine. One of the recommendations is to drink coffee and a primer definitely helps, it gets you going in the morning every day.

Tiffany: We'll, I am not a coffee drinker. I never really got the taste for it and it's probably because I tasted my mother's coffee when I was a little girl and found it to be utterly disgusting. The coffee that she drank was utterly disgusting. I refuse to drink Folger's Crystals instant coffee with powdered coffee creamer in it; it was really nasty.

Erica: With a little saccharine?

Tiffany: Table sugar. I have experimented from time-to-time - within the last few years - with butter, or bulletproof coffee, and that tasted ok to me. But, on my own I have never had any Folger's Crystals or that instant coffee, it's always been organically grown, whole bean, ground and prepared. So, it's technically been good coffee, but i don't like coffee unless it's butter coffee.

Even when I do an experiment at home where I drink coffee in the morning it's not every day, and eventually I just get tired of it and I stop drinking it.

Doug: I guess you are just not the type to be into coffee at all.

Tiffany: All this talk of coffee makes me want to have a cup of coffee.

Doug: I'm a regular coffee drinker, I drink it every day and I always do the butter thing. The thing is, I didn't start drinking coffee until later. A lot of people who were in college with me were regular coffee drinkers and I just never got that into it. It wasn't until many years later and I got into the 'brunch' thing where I was going to brunch with people.

I remember it was one day and the waitress didn't even ask, she just brought coffees for everybody and I was like "well, alright I'll have some coffee" and that was the catalyst. I thought that it was pretty good. Of course, I dumped cream and sugar into it and made it taste more like a hot chocolate or something but that started me off.

Then, when I went to nutrition school I heard all this stuff saying that coffee was bad and we could probably get into some of that stuff, but they were very anti-coffee there and so I quit. It wasn't until the whole butter-coffee phenomenon came about that I actually went back to it and started doing it. To this day, I do myself a butter coffee.

Tiffany: Somebody in our chat is asking about Mate (maa-tay).

Doug: I actually have Mate with me right now.

Tiffany: We were talking about Mate before the show and I think that it's definitely an acquired taste. Doug, how did you describe it?

Doug: If you took a lawnmower and scraped off all that grassy pulp that comes from underneath and you put that into a cup and put hot water on it and then sipped it with a straw then that's pretty close to what you are getting. That will be very insulting to a lot of Mate drinkers out there because I know that Mate is a big thing in some cultures and people really like it.

I don't really like the taste, although I have to say you get really jacked on it. I had some earlier today because I wanted to experiment with it for the show and I got really spun. It's powerful stuff; I don't like the taste though.

Erica: Does it have caffeine in it? Is it caffeine that's in Mate?

Doug: Yes, although apparently there is less than is what's in coffee. I can't remember the exact measurement but I think that a cup of coffee has 5 milligrams of caffeine in it and Mate only has 2. I don't remember the exact measurements but Mate has less than half of what coffee has.

Erica: I have some stats here from the FDA in which they say that they consider 400 milligrams is a safe amount of caffeine for adults. A cup of coffee has 100-200 milligrams, a cup of tea has 70 milligrams and a soda has less than 50.

Doug: I obviously had that measurement wrong then. [Laughter]

Erica: Well we all know how reliable the FDA is.

Doug: I think that's probably pretty accurate. We have a lot of people chiming in on the chat about Mate right now. A lot of people have apparently acquired the taste for it. I found it really bitter, but then so is coffee; coffee is quite bitter as well. Maybe you could try butter-mate.

Erica: Of butter tea?

Doug: Yeah, well a lot of people do that actually.

Elliot: I find that after drinking Mate I feel like I have to go and lift some weights or run 6 miles because it's one of those things that gets you really going. With coffee, I don't find that it causes that effect. It just gives me increased concentration. I feel like I could sit and write a book or something.

I'm from Northern Europe and I don't think that my ancestors would have had much access to Mate, but then again when did they first get coffee? Coffee came from South America right?

Erica: Jonathan was going to share that on the show today.

Tiffany: I think that I read that there was some farmer, I don't know if he was in South America or Africa or somewhere - might have been Kenya - and he was a shepherd and he noticed that his goats were eating coffee beans and they seemed full of energy and they were running around and playing. I guess he decided that he would try and experiment with eating coffee beans.

Then, there was another story where some monks noticed the same things with their animals and they decided to take the coffee beans and brew a tea out of it and that's how coffee spread all around the world boys and girls.

Erica: One of our chatter said that I thought it was for Saudi Arabia or some Middle Eastern origin and I'm wondering if that's right because it's called Arabica?

Doug: That's right. It could be. I imagine the goat story is probably not true.I mean, the odds of it being true are generally not very good, but it could be something like that. Another chatter has told us that the Pope drinks Mate so it must be ok. [Laughter]

Erica: It is one of the most valuable and widely traded commodity crops in the world.

Doug: I can imagine, it's crazy when you think about how much it is actually drunk around the world. In North America, South America, Europe. Do they drink coffee in Asia? I imagine they probably do.

Erica: It's more green tea.

Doug: It's like caffeine is the habit of the planet. Anybody is Tiff's category who just doesn't do caffeine has got to be in a really slim minority.

Erica: As a coffee drinker, I have to say that I have mixed sensations if I drink it before I eat or after I eat or in the middle of the day. When I drink green tea I get way more side effects of the stimulants of the caffeine than I do from coffee.

Doug: My experiment with Mate today was pretty similar. I felt way more jacked on the Mate than I do on coffee.

Tiffany: Maybe there are other components that are within your caffeinated beverage that can attenuate or exacerbate the effects of it.

Elliot: I was just about to say that because in all of those drinks, tea, Mate, coffee, or anything that's caffeinated, it's not just the caffeine in the product. For instance, coffee is absolutely packed with all these different flavonoids and polyphenols and, like the cocoa bean, it's packed with so many other nutrients and when you think about the synergistic effect of those those nutrients, maybe what they do is either increase or decrease the bioavailability of the caffeine.

Maybe, there are also stimulant effects in certain other compounds in that particular plant which we haven't even discovered yet; who knows. I can definitely agree that when I drink Mate it seems like there is a hell of a lot more caffeine than there is in coffee, but when you look at it on paper that doesn't seem to be the case.

Then again, when we look at the health benefits that are typically ascribed to caffeine I think a lot of those are due to the other nutrients as well as the caffeine. When you look at research and you look at a study saying that coffee reduces the risk of heart disease, if you were to isolate the caffeine in the research experiments it doesn't have the same effect.

Doug: I think that is typical of a lot of herbal medicines where they think that they have found the active ingredient but then when they isolate it, it might still have an effect but not as powerful, or it might not have an effect at all. I think that there is definitely a synergy between different compounds in a lot of plants that are actually having the effect.

Tiffany: I think that can be said for valerian root for sure. I think that also contributes to the confusion about whether or not coffee is good for you or bad for you. One day, you will read a study saying that it does good things for your liver, and then you will read a study that says it will raise your blood pressure and burn out your adrenals.

It's really hard to know, and I still think it comes down to the whole-bean or the whole-plant versus one active constituent. Then, you have to add that each person is an individual and they will react in different ways.

Erica: I think it depends on the quality too, which Doug, and even one of our chatters, was talking about earlier; how it's grown, how it's processed. An awful lot of people know that Starbucks gained its fame because they burn the crap out of the beans and people like that really burnt taste.

It's like straight speed, I think. It seems to have a next-level way of affecting people - me in particular - whereas something that is organically grown, like Tiffany said, you know the quality of it. I think I have shared this on the show in the past, but a lot of people don't realise that when beans come from other countries like South America they sit in vats of liquid pesticides.

So, when they roast it maybe you get some of that pesticide off it, but I have always wondered if that is why if, in America, you drink 7-11 coffee and you are just amped out of your mind and you are walking around cleaning your house with a toothbrush that maybe that is because you are high on the chemicals; the neurotoxins that were used in the whole production process.

Doug: It could be that, and it could also be the mycotoxins as well. Mycotoxins are a mould that grows on tonnes of different dried foods including grains, coffee, cocoa beans. All these different kinds of things can be completely overrun with these mycotoxins.

There actually was a recent headline that said they tested 100 different brands of Spanish commercial coffee and all of them had mycotoxin contamination. Some of them had 6-times the acceptable level! If you are not getting quality, in a lot of cases yes, it could be pesticides, it could be mycotoxins, who knows?

Tiffany: Do we want to listen to this clip? It's from Dr. Josh Axe, and he is talking about whether coffee is good for you or whether it is bad for you.

Dr. Axe: Hey guys, Dr. Axe here. I am the founder of, one of the largest natural health websites in the world. One of the most common questions that I have been getting on my Facebook page as well as my webpage recently is that people have been asking is coffee good for me, or is coffee good for you?

The answer is, yes and no. There is a lot of research that has been coming out on coffee and coffee is one of the most popular beverages around the world today. Let me first just talk about why coffee can be good for you, and also why it can be bad for you.

For starters, one of the biggest reasons why coffee is beneficial is because it contains massive amounts of antioxidants. One of the things that we are exposed to all around the world today is large levels of toxicity and so antioxidants can really help and slow the ageing process; they can help protect your cells against free radical damage.

Coffee is actually one of the 5 foods in the world today which is highest in antioxidants; coffee is incredible in terms of its antioxidants. Also, coffee increases circulation and can stimulate the liver so it actually maybe has some supportive benefits for the liver, it increases circulation, has been shown to improve exercise overall, it has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain. For those reasons, because of the massive amount of antioxidants and the increase in circulation that's where the benefits of coffee come from.

Now, here are the negatives of coffee. The big thing is caffeine, and consuming that much caffeine can have an addictive side-effect. It can also over stimulate the body and burn out your adrenal glands and over-tax your body; that's a big negative.

For a country like America, or all across the world, 80% of people will suffer with some form of fatigue or adrenal fatigue at some time in their life. Because of that, if somebody is struggling with fatigue on a regular basis, or if they have thyroid issues, adrenal issues or hormonal issues, I do not recommend that those people consume coffee, because of all of the caffeine that you are going to find there.

Again, that caffeine is really the main issue with coffee, it will burn out your adrenals. The thing about this is, do you think you were created to rely on stimulants all the time? Because, that's really what caffeine is, it's a stimulant. Doing large amounts of caffeine is not good at all for people with adrenal fatigue, thyroid problems or even people with autoimmune disorders or other chronic illness; I do not recommend coffee for those people.

If you are already generally healthy, or let's say that you struggle with some circulation issues, or you are trying to support the brain and you don't have autoimmune disease or any type of thyroid or adrenal issue, then in that case consuming coffee in moderate amounts can be fine, and even good for your health. Now, when you are consuming coffee you are going to need to consume it in the morning or before lunch, because the life of coffee and the caffeine and how long it will affect your body can be around 12 hours.

If you start drinking it in the afternoon, or especially in the evening, it can affect your sleep cycle that night. Not just you falling asleep, but your overall quality of sleep while you are trying to sleep that night. So, is coffee good or is it bad? The truth is it depends on your body and it depends on whether you have one of these conditions. Coffee can make it worse.

If you are looking for a little bit of a pick-me-up then you should do it earlier in the day. If you need more antioxidants and circulation, for those reasons coffee can have some of those major health benefits. Here's the other thing, when buying coffee you must buy organic, natural coffee if you are going to consume it because coffee is one of the most highly sprayed plants in the entire world today.

I think a better option than coffee is doing things like teas. Macha green tea is an amazing super-food that has about a third of the amount of caffeine as coffee. Also, white tea, rooibos tea and oolong tea are all good teas as well which you may consider adding in. Most of those have about a third of the amount of caffeine so if you consume a couple of cups a day then you are actually going to be getting more benefits. That's what I would recommend overall if you want to get a little bit of caffeine and support your organs as well then switching over to tea is your best option.

I know there are a lot of coffee lovers out there so if your body does well with coffee and you do it earlier in the day and you use an organic brand,I think you are good to do coffee. For other people, doing some herbal teas, which have some additional benefits, is a better option.

So, this has been myself, Dr. Axe, answering your question: is coffee good for you? The answer is yes, and no.

Elliot: Ok, so I'm going to have to disagree with him there. [Laughter]

Doug: I was just going to ask you Elliot because I knew you were going to, go ahead.

Elliot: I agree that there are lots of antioxidants, but I disagree with the idea that caffeine is what's wrong with the coffee. I'm going to talk about a couple of studies which have shown caffeine individually, not coffee, to exert a number of benefits, amazing benefits. This is not people who drink tea or coffee, this is injections of caffeine directly into tissue. [Laughter]

Tiffany: Don't try this at home!

Elliot: You can't get away from that fact. What I would like to say that it's true that if you have caffeine later on in the day then it can mess up the circadian rhythms. I don't know if that's necessarily just because of its stimulant effects, but there is definitely some component of it which actually affects the circadian clocks; the clocks in the cells which are able to tell the time; they call it phase advancement. It can help you in the morning to reset your circadian clock to tell you it's day time but if you have it too late at night, it definitely does mess with that clock system.

I think another thing he said about how it can burn out the adrenals is misleading because the adrenals don't actually get burnt out unless someone has adrenal cancer or something. The idea that the adrenals get burnt out is not technically true, it's more to do with the dysregulation from the brain.

Before cutting out coffee, I would probably look at other things. What is your sleep cycle like? What is your stress like? What is your diet like? Then, I would think about blaming the coffee. Not that it doesn't benefit some people, but technically that wasn't correct.

Caffeine is really interesting and the way that it is metabolised by the body is by the liver. On the forum, there was some talk a while back about a particular drug called pentoxifylline, this is part of what is called the xanthine family. Caffeine is also part of that family. There is actually some fascinating research behind this drug - pentoxifylline.

It's typically used to increase blood flow, but what it really does is it allows the cells to become more responsive to things like insulin. It activates an enzyme called cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and what this does is it allows the cells to take up more energy, so it's really good. Caffeine seems to work in a similar way because it is part of the same family of molecules.

When they have injected caffeine, what they have actually shown in the brain - I don't think they injected it into the brain, they injected it into the abdomen - is that it increases certain hormones, namely pregnenolone, allopregnanolone and progesterone. These are anabolic hormones which means that they build up tissue and they are considered really protective for the brain.

In various diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia, there are several theorists who basically theorise that these conditions involve a lack of these anabolic hormones. There is a deficiency of these anabolic hormones, and there are typically lots of stressful hormones like cortisol which basically break down the brain tissue. Having these brain chemicals is really quite important for brain health.

When they injected the caffeine into the abdomen, these saw dose and time-dependent increases in the concentration of these hormones. The research actually suggested towards the end of the study that the neuroactive steroids may modulate the stimulant and angiogenic effects of caffeine. What they are saying is that the cognitive benefits that people experience from caffeine may not actually be due to the stimulant effect. It may actually be more of a hormonal effect on the brain. I thought that was really interesting because no one really knows about that.

Another one about caffeine - not coffee, caffeine - is that 150mg-300mg daily protects against dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) - in other words Lou Gehrig's disease - Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease. Like we just saw, it seems to be really protective for the brain. That seems to be the case for the entirety of the nervous system as well. It activates a specific enzyme which helps the body to get rid of misfolded proteins.

In these diseases, you may have heard of tau proteins which are like plaques that build up in the brain. People talk about how Alzheimer's is like an insulin resistance of the brain; they say it's like type-3 diabetes. If you imagine when you have plaques in your arteries, it's similar to in your arteries but it's actually in your brain; these are called tau-plaques. Caffeine actually activates an enzyme which helps to break down these plaques.

This is probably one of the reasons why there has been a negative correlation with coffee intake and various neurological disorders. It is similar to cardiovascular disorders as well: caffeine intake has also been negatively correlated with that. There is an inverse association, so basically the people who drink more coffee, or more caffeinated beverages actually have much better cardiovascular health overall.

This wasn't known. There was a lot of research in the 80's and the 90's which was suggesting otherwise, but longer-term studies have shown that this wasn't technically true. It turns out that caffeinated beverages have a cardioprotective effect.

Next, caffeine - not coffee - caffeine independently protects against something called quinolinic acid. Quinolinic acid is a compound which is involved in the serotonin pathway. When there is lots of inflammation in the brain, say there is a leaky blood-brain barrier and you have got lots of toxicity in the brain, you will have elevations in something called quinolinic acid. This is like a protective mechanism.

When this goes on for long periods of time it actually damages the mitochondria in the brain and it can lead to something called Huntington's disease. Caffeine has actually been shown to protect against the effects of quinolinic acid; it actually reveses those effects. I thought that was really interesting because that is not related to coffee - well it is related to coffee, but it is not due to antioxidants or whatever else Dr. Axe was talking about.

Another one, for males, which you should probably know about is that caffeine has an androgenic effect on the testicles. What this means is that it basically increases the rate of respiration, increases the rate of energy production in the testicular cells, and it also increases testosterone and DHT.

On that note, since we are talking about hormones, another interesting thing about testosterone is that testosterone is an anabolic steroid. It is used in rebuilding tissue, rebuilding muscle and generally higher muscle mass; it correlates with better health. This is important to understand and you really ought to try and optimise your anabolic steroids. One of the things that antagonises this, or blocks testosterone, is estrogen. This is what is known as the female hormone.

We are massively exposed to estrogen in our environment now, probably because of the plastics and all of the gender-bending chemicals that they put in our foods. Our listeners probably already know this, but it has been shown that glyphosate, which is the pesticide - Roundup - that they spray on the crops, can be given to a fish and you can turn them from a make to a female. It's so potently estrogenic - or they call it xenoestrogenic - that it can actually switch the gender of animals. I think this is having a similar effect on human beings.

Not only does it affect your gender characteristics, but the estrogen also has detrimental effects on the cell. We did a show about this a while ago so we don't need to go into that too much, but it's important to note that while caffeine increases testosterone production, it is also a potent anti-estrogenic.

There was a study comparing caffeine to another drug which is called Fulvestrant. This is the most potent anti-estrogenic on the market. Caffeine actually surpassed this drug's ability to completely block estrogen receptors. So, it is highly antiestrogenic, and this is really important not only for men, but also for women as well, because estrogen is being correlated with all sorts of breast cancers. I think overall, no one is deficient in estrogen necessarily. It's more like we have got an overload of that, so caffeine seems to have a benefit in that regard.

Another one, this is probably the most well known fact of caffeine, and it seems to be of coffee as well. Maybe it's due to the synergistic effects of the coffee, but it also happens with caffeine. It is massively liver-protective. It can actually protect against liver disease and it has been shown in animal studies that higher doses of caffeine can reverse non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Doug: Wow!

Elliot: It has been theorised that up to 70% of people who were obese were maybe suffering from some sort of fatty liver and that has all sorts of metabolic consequences - we don't need to go into that - but basically it's really bad. There are so many studies, probably hundreds of studies, showing that coffee, or caffeine intake, decreases the risk of all sorts of liver conditions.

One showed a statistically significant trend towards lower liver cirrhosis with increasing exposure to coffee. Another one showed that daily caffeine consumption was associated with reduced liver fibrosis. Another one shower lower insulin resistance, so caffeine increased insulin sensitivity in the liver. That's really important because what it does is it blocks a process called gluconeogenesis.

I think that's systemic as well, so coffee does seem to actually improve insulin sensitivity in other parts of the body and not just the liver. Another one - there are just so many, I have got multiple - we don't need to go into all of these, but basically there is a lower risk of type-2 diabetes. There seems to be so many effects, I could list off hundreds, but I'm not going to do that.

Tiffany: You can basically extol the virtues of caffeine.

Elliot: What they suggest is that caffeine has been demonised, but it seems to have some sort of a therapeutic value. Just one more that I want to talk about - sorry. This one shows that caffeine protects the blood-brain barrier from endotoxins. There is all this stuff about the blood-brain barrier and how you can protect it, and you have got this thing called an endotoxin. The bacteria in your gut have this as a part of their shell and it gets released into the bloodstream sometimes - this is called an endotoxin.

When you have a little bit, it can be helpful, but when you have a lot of it it can cause quite a lot of damage. It is renowned for making its way to the brain and actually disrupting the blood-brain barrier so that other chemicals can get into the brain. There was one study which showed that caffeine - independently - can help to repair the blood-brain barrier. I think that it also repairs gut permeability as well.

Tiffany: What?

Doug: Wow! [Laughter]

Elliot: When you were talking about the patients coming out of the hospital, I think that maybe some of the benefits that they saw was also maybe due to the caffeine restoring the leaky gut. It is important to note that everything that I have just spoken about is independent of coffee and independent of the antioxidants, so I imagine if you are taking it in a drink, for instance tea or mate, you are probably getting better effects than just with the caffeine.

Finally, I said one more, but this is just one more. It has been shown that caffeine - independently - can increase mitochondrial biosynthesis and metabolism in skeletal muscle. This would fall in line with what we were talking about earlier: about how it does seem to increase the rate of metabolism.

It makes your skeletal muscle build more mitochondria which means that you can use them more, you can get stronger - which is really good - and it means that it increases that rate by which your muscles use fuel. This is good because you want to build really strong muscles and have a good body composition. Loads of fun facts there.

Doug: That's pretty amazing, I had no idea. Caffeine has been so demonised. The one thing that you always hear about caffeine is that it makes your adrenals pump out adrenal hormones and it makes you have a stress response, but obviously there is a lot more to the picture than caffeine being bad. From what you are saying, it sounds really good.

Tiffany: They try to scare you with these tales of young boys who drink tonnes of Red Bull and stay up all night playing Call of Duty and they end up in hospital because they have had too much caffeine. That can happen. You can overdose on caffeine.

Erica: Maybe it's the red dye in the Red Bull that's actually causing that; Doug had mentioned additives earlier.

Elliot: The range is 3 grams of caffeine, and I think per-cup you get 150 milligrams. I think it would be fairly difficult to overdose on caffeine. That being said, there is clearly an individual response to this because some people just do not go well with caffeine. Anecdotally, I have spoken to people who have said that they couldn't tolerate coffee. When they started sorting out their diet and their lifestyle and they started supporting their liver with some supportive herbs - like milk thistle - and they had higher quality protein in their diet they started to be able to tolerate it more.

Whether you tolerate caffeine or not is probably due to genetics. Are you a slow metabolizer? If you are, then maybe you will never be able to tolerate it very well. Is your liver over-burdened? Is that enzyme in your liver so overburdened with all of the other toxins that you are not able to clear that caffeine fast enough?

I spoke to one of my colleagues who quit smoking, and she said that when she was a smoker she could tolerate coffee; she used to drink it all the time and she felt fine. When she stopped smoking she could no longer tolerate the caffeine.

I looked into it and the enzyme which is responsible for metabolising the coffee, CYP1A2, is also upregulated by smoking tobacco. If you are a smoker then what it means is that you can most likely tolerate coffee more than if you weren't a smoker because it increases the metabolism of that coffee.

There are probably so many individual variables there so I don't want to seem like I am recommending that people go out and drink loads of coffee. If you can drink it, don't feel guilty for drinking it because there are tonnes of benefits, but if you don't drink it then it's not the end of the world.

Doug: With the coffee thing, I had read that people who smoke will actually clear the caffeine 3 hours faster than those who don't; I was pretty fascinated by that.

Elliot: That may be why having chocolate, coffee and a cigarette all at the same time...

Doug: Is highly recommended? [Laughter] It's interesting that it does seem to be an individual thing because when we did our show on smoking it seemed to be the same thing. Although there are all these different benefits from it, there are definitely certain people who just can't do it.

Elliot: One of the chatters asked if they should drink loads of coffee, so I just want to reiterate that is not what I am recommending. I don't think any of us think that you should drink loads of coffee. 1 or 2 cups is probably good. Most of the therapeutic benefit comes from 300mg. There are some studies which show something crazy like 200mg per kilogram of body weight or 50mg per kilogram of body weight, but I don't think that you would want to go there just in case.

Doug: Oh my God. It's one of those things where it can be very good for you but some people tend to get a reliance on it and maybe that is where you need to draw the line. If you are 100% dependent on caffeine just to get on with your day then maybe there is something else going on there that you need to take a look at.

I don't know if it is a good thing to be dependent on it just to be able to function vs using it therapeutically. What do you think Elliot?

Elliot: I completely agree. I did what you did and did an experiment to see whether there is a dependence. If you feel like you need it and you go without it and you start to get withdrawal symptoms then that is not a good sign. That means you probably shouldn't be drinking it right now.

You may have blood sugar dysregulation so you should probably test your blood sugar. If you are having such a bad response to that then there is possibly a chance that you are having hypoglycemia or something like that in the morning when you are waking up. I'd say that was more of a symptom of something much more fundamental than coffee.

Like Dr. Axe was saying, coffee becomes a scapegoat sometimes and I think it is easy to blame things on the coffee and not actually dig into the root cause of the issue. It may be that you are one of these people that can't metabolise it, but if you are having a bad reaction to that or if you feel like you are dependant on it then the chances are you have some blood sugar management issues, or maybe pre-diabetes or something crazy like that so you should maybe start looking into that kind of stuff.

Another chatter just asked about caffeine allergies. That does seem to be the case now doesn't it?

Doug: What, that there is a caffeine allergy?

Elliot: No, not caffeine allergy, sorry. It seems that there is cross-reactivity going on.

Doug: I don't know if you can blame that on the caffeine though because my understanding is that it is more like the source of the caffeine that you are actually allergic to.

Elliot: It seems that the way that instant coffee is processed means that it can mimic gluten in the gut and the immune system can pick it up and essentially treat it as if it were gluten. So someone can be on a gluten-free diet and, much like with a dairy product, the immune system can identify that as similar to gluten.

That seems to be the case with processed coffee but that wasn't the case for high quality roasted coffee beans. If you make it in a cafetiere and it's high quality and if you grind your own beans then that doesn't seem to be a problem for cross-reactivity. It just seemed to be when it was that instant stuff. I don't think anyone is recommended to drink that.

Doug: Not at all. I read a similar thing about dairy as well. Some people get that cross-reactivity with dairy products; it tends to be the more processed ones. I don't know how much truth there is to that, or if someone were to eat raw dairy whether that would not cause that cross-reactivity; dairy has got its own issues anyway.

Elliot: On that note - to go a little bit off-track, though you could say this is a little bit related to coffee because people have milk in their coffee - I recently tried some sheep's products. I got some sheep's yoghurt with nothing added to it - the sheep were completely grass-fed. With the yoghurt that I had I had absolutely no issues whatsoever.

Whereas, with goat's or cow's yoghurt, it absolutely demolishes my digestive tract. Is that to do with something they are fed? I don't know. It's completely off-topic, nevermind.

Tiffany: More experiments are necessary.

Doug: I think that if we were going to make any sort of across the board suggestion when it comes to coffee it is that I think if somebody is sick and they are trying to get to the bottom of things and they are eliminating things from their diet, maybe it's a good idea to cut out coffee for a while. Until you can get to the bottom of things and figure out what was going on. Then, you can maybe reintroduce it, because it does seem like there are a lot of benefits to the caffeine, from what Elliot is saying.

At the same time, it can be problematic for some people. I think that for general advice, if you are trying to heal then it is probably a good idea to cut it out, at least for a while. Then maybe add it back in and see how you react to it.

Tiffany: I think that is good advice.

Elliot: It is like a drug, and you have to use it wisely. I think you should try a month, or two months, or even three months without coffee and then try to reintroduce it and see how you feel. Try different things as well: have it before breakfast and then after breakfast and see if it affects you in any way.

Clearly, it does cause issues for some people. Especially if they are suffering from what Dr. Axe would call adrenal fatigue, even if it's not adrenal fatigue. If there is some sort of dysregulation with your blood sugar, circadian rhythm, diet, or you have some sort of nutritional deficiency then if you are going to look at it as if it is a drug then it is going to have some negative effects so you have got to be clever with it. Ultimately, it has been accused of things which aren't necessarily true.

Tiffany: Do we want to go to the pet segment? It's about coffee!

Doug: That sounds good.

[Pet health introduction music]

Zoya: Hello and welcome to the pet health segment of the Health and Wellness Show. This week I would like to share with you an interesting and curious fact that involves coffee. According to the Guinness World Records, two of the oldest cats ever - Creme Puff, aged 38 years, and Granpa, aged 34 years - belong to the same person: Jake Perry of Austin Texas.

These two cats were of different breeds, but the common denominator appears to be their unusual diet; listen to this. Apparently Jake Perry fed them with bacon and eggs, asparagus, broccoli, and coffee with heavy cream. Apparently Perry had other cats as well, and we don't know how long they lived, but the fact that he had two cats that lived that long leads us to conclude that he must have done something right. Was it the diet or a combination of things? Who knows?

Here is a news report about him and his sphinx cat Granpa:

News Reporter: How old is the oldest cat that ever lived? Is it a) 34 years old? b) 33 years old? Or c) 32 years old? The correct answer is a) 34 years old!

His name, fittingly, was Granpa, and when he was born in 1964 L.B.J. was president, the Beverly Hillbillies was the number one TV show, and the Beatles' I want to Hold your Hand was the county's number one song. Jake Perry of Austin Texas was Granpa's owner.

Granpa was a Rex Sphinx, a distinctive and nearly hairless breed of cat. But, it was age that set him apart and made him a cat-world hero. What does Jake attribute Granpa's longevity to?

Jake Perry: The love, the care, the check-ups and the food.

News Reporter: The food? Now, wait a minute. Here's what Granpa ate every morning of his life for breakfast: Along with a cup of Folgers Coffee; regular please, not decaf -

Jake Perry: Bacon, eggs, broccoli, and asparagus.

News Reporter: Now, it is true that in his later years Jake switched Granpa to egg beaters and fake bacon. They lived in a modest house with Jake's wife and about 20 other cats, but only Granpa liked to venture out on Jake's daily rounds.

Jake Perry: He liked to ride in the truck, and he would like to see the green lights, cars and sceneries.

News Reporter: When Granpa finally died this April - he was 34, or 238 in cat years - Jake gave him a burial with full honours. First, came a memorial service complete with funeral music in which Jake's other cats paid their respects. He was then laid out on a kitty casket and buried in Jake's back yard with a headstone and all.

Jake Perry: I miss him, real bad, and it hurts.

News Reporter: But, don't feel too sorry for Jake just yet. First of all, he has a hairless kitten named Cowboy who is Granpa's great, great grandson. He has already shown the same dietary tastes.

Jake Perry: Cowboy is beginning to eat what Granpa ate and is beginning to lap a little coffee as long as the cream is poured in.

News Reporter: Jake has another cat who has a shot at breaking Granpa's record. Her name is Creme Puff, and according to Jake, she just turned 29 years young!

[Pet health outro music with goat noises]

Tiffany: Awwwww.

Doug: Those are some coffee drinking goats. [Laughter] That's pretty crazy, and the funny thing was that it was some Folger's Crystals; and, he switched them to egg beaters and fake bacon! I don't know, it goes against everything that we talk about here. Maybe it was more about him taking them for car rides. [Laughter]

Tiffany: Have we learned everything that we need to know about caffeine?

Erica: For now.

Doug: Elliot says he has about 200 more studies that he could tell us about, but I think we are good for now. [Laughter]

Elliot: I don't want to bore anyone.

Doug: Well, thanks everybody, I think that's our show. Thanks to all of our chats. Be sure to tune into the SOTT network's show on Sunday. Thanks to our hosts, have a good day!