Coffee: Evil.

Via Heather Lounsbury
on Jun 15, 2010
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This seemingly happy cappuccino will [email protected]#&ing kill you.

Give up coffee? Never!

You know what my patients hate to give up as much as sugar? That’s right: coffee.

If you’re a coffee drinker, you’re not going to like what you’re about to read. But this information is vital. Many think it’s good for you. At least decaf isn’t bad for you, right?



Caffeine combines with the stomach’s hydrochloric acid to form a potent toxin, caffeine hydrochloride. When it’s absorbed, bile is released in an attempt to flush the toxin from your system. This accounts for increased bowel regularity, of which many coffee drinkers boast. If you only have a bowel movement after your morning coffee, your body has become dependent on the laxative side effect.

Decaffeinated coffee is no better, because it contains a large concentration of the chemical Trichloroethylene. It is used mostly as a de-greasing agent in the metal industry, as a dry cleaning agent and is linked to liver cancer.

Because the liver is overworked to detoxify chemical residues in coffee, long-term coffee drinkers often have a toxic, congested liver and impure blood. The function of the liver is to filter the blood so it can nourish your cells. When the liver is congested, the blood doesn’t get filtered and it deposits impure blood into the cells.  Then your cells can’t regenerate and grow healthy tissue, which can lead to degenerative diseases. A congested liver can manifest as dark spots/liver spots on the skin as people age.  Most people think those spots are normal, a sign of the healthy part of aging.

Think again!

Adrenal Exhaustion

Coffee stimulates your adrenal glands to secrete epinephrine, also known as adrenaline. This stimulates insulin secretion and leads to secondary hypoglycemia, which result in a mild rise in blood pressure, 2-3 hours later a craving for sweets, low energy and mood, and the overworking of the adrenals.

Weight gain is another result of adrenal exhaustion.  Cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, is released when you drink any coffee.  This triggers your body produce more fat.  Many coffee drinkers have a hard time losing belly fat as a result.

Also, when your adrenal glands are stimulated too often, they eventually burn out.
This burn out will lead to your body searching for a replacement hormone: progesterone. Progesterone helps keep your body’s estrogen in balance. As your progesterone is used up compensating for your exhausted adrenals, you can become estrogen dominant, which eventually leads to osteoporosis.
Coffee also raises the acidity levels of your blood, causing calcium to be pulled from your bones and teeth to use as a buffering agent. The combination of estrogen dominance and high blood acidity puts you at an even greater risk for osteoporosis and kidney stones.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Most heavy coffee drinkers have a B-1 (Thiamine) deficiency with symptoms of fatigue, nervousness, aches and pains, and headaches. Drinking coffee and tea reduces iron absorption by 40% to 60%, thereby increasing the risk of anemia.

Regular coffee drinking prevents some nutrients from being absorbed in your small intestines, which leads to further vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The deficiencies include gray hair, a distended belly, constipation, spastic colon or irritable bowel, an enlarged gall bladder, and high cholesterol and triglycerides.

But that’s not all! Other Side Effects.

Some adverse effects of drinking coffee include: insomnia, tremors, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, headaches, temporary increase in the stiffening of arterial walls, elevated blood pressure and/or cholesterol levels, irregular heartbeats and palpitations, increased risk of a heart attack, PMS symptoms, increased risk of bladder and rectal cancer, and higher risk of the birth of a low-birth-weight child.

Because caffeine increases the production of stomach acid, high consumption over time can lead to peptic ulcers, erosive esophagitis and acid reflux/GERD.

Caffeine is a very strong diuretic (makes you pee).  Most coffee drinkers are dehydrated, resulting in electrolyte imbalances, hypotension, kidney failure and confusion (even coma) due to decreased blood flow to organs and brain.


I know the thought of giving up your morning coffee sounds…almost impossible. The caffeine in the coffee belongs to the same alkaloid group as morphine, cocaine, and strychnine, making it really hard to give it up.  But think of how much better you’ll feel once you’ve quit.  The initial withdrawal symptoms and crankiness will subside. If you’re worried about being tired at work, then slowly make the switch to green tea or kombucha (a healthier drink for energy and health).  It will be worth it.


About Heather Lounsbury

Heather Lounsbury, L.Ac. is an acupuncturist, nutritionist, environmental activist and radio host. One of her goals is to put fast food and greenwashers out of business. She's available for phone consultations. Find her at


48 Responses to “Coffee: Evil.”

  1. Josh says:

    I think this is an informative article. But, I can’t tell because there aren’t enough references.

    Yes, there are some Wikipedia definitions linked, but you can’t throw around this much science without some actual references that illustrate the veracity of the claims.

  2. agree with Josh – want to see some objective studies linked in support of these claims

  3. LuAnne says:

    This article sounds like an opinion of one writer and nothing more. Countless studies have supported that coffee does have positive effects on most, but those studies mainly support the intake of black coffe, not venti chocolate frapped whipped of any sort is recommended. I’ve had many doctors of both eastern and western cultures tell me they would never give up their morning brew. I do see where the author is coming from, but I feel many of us live consciously in most areas of our life, why even contemplate giving up one of our greatest, most simple pleasures?

  4. Jeff says:

    Some people like coffee. Some people like tea.

  5. Adam says:

    "Decaffeinated coffee is no better, because it contains a large concentration of the chemical Trichloroethylene. It is used mostly as a de-greasing agent in the metal industry, as a dry cleaning agent and is linked to liver cancer."

    This would be a half-truth, as Swiss Water Processed Decaf Coffee doesn't use Trichloroethylene at all. Really, not one link to any study at all here?

  6. Kiersten says:

    I prefer Dr. Weil's take on coffee- "The way coffee affects you is your surest guide to whether or not you should be drinking it at all and, if so, how much." His article on coffee is here:
    … and his actually has references…

  7. Daniel says:

    There are some real problems with this article. It has some interesting points, but I have a hard time believing any of it because of the glaring errors:

    "When the liver is congested, the blood doesn’t get filtered and it deposits impure blood into the cells. " Well, blood doesn't get deposited into any cells. Blood IS a cell. It is the main transport medium for moving waste and nutrients through the body.

    "Regular coffee drinking prevents some nutrients from being absorbed in your small intestines, which leads to further vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The deficiencies include gray hair, a distended belly, constipation, …." I never knew gray hair was a deficiency, or a distended belly. A deficiency is a lack of something, not the something. Perhaps there are deficiencies that contribute to these things, but they themselves are not deficiencies.

    It is simple errors like these that really make me question the legitimacy of anything this author has to say. Sorry.

  8. Sean says:

    I agree with Daniel and others here…

    Let's see the peer-reviewed scientific studies…not the wiki-psuedoscience….the toxin stuff is just not true/or an oversimplification.

    I've heard a naturopath explain the toxin/liver coffee myth and my wife, who's a PHARMD (8 years of Pharmacology), said that it completely misrepresents how body chemistry and the liver work.

    While coffee can be bad if over-used, the same goes for just about anything…even organic green tea.

    Maybe what is more harmful than coffee is giving people giving non-scientific, medical advice to sell a cause, product, or service.

    Sadly this happens on both sides of the "good-for-you" and "bad-for-you" spectrum…

    I'm not sure misinformation furthers any cause.

    I agree that Moderation is key…

  9. C. says:

    I think, as do others, that there are indeed many problems with the claims and inferences in this article, and that these need to be supported with references to scientific and medical literature.
    Besides the issue with the claim about decaffeinated coffee (which does not apply to water process decaffeination), there is a problem with the claim about coffee as a diuretic and a cause of dehydration.
    My thorough search of Wikipedia 😉 turned up this (in the header!):
    “Caffeine has diuretic properties when administered in sufficient doses to subjects that do not have a tolerance for it.[6] Regular users, however, develop a strong tolerance to this effect, [6] and studies have generally failed to support the common notion that ordinary consumption of caffeinated beverages contributes significantly to dehydration.[7][8][9]”
    I would agree with Dr. Weil and other contributors here: use your own experience as a guide!
    For me, too much coffee – esp. in combination with lots of sugar, dairy and alcohol (my four main food groups 😉 ) – can trigger food sensitivities or allergies. So I do have to exercise care, and stop drinking it for awhile every so often (like after this weekend). But… I like it!

  10. Lots more killer comments on FB, but can't be bothered to spend half my life copying over. FB fans of ele, pls copy paste your comments over here, I beg you!

  11. Mary Fitzsimons
    the milk in a cup of white tea or coffee creates more CO2 than boiling the water

    Allie B
    I read it and got another cup.. sigh.

    Carl R. Castro
    Thank you, Mary. At least that made me feel better.
    I recently made another disturbing discovery about coffee:
    Four nights ago, up with the jitters at 3 am (and unaccustomed to jitters even when customarily drinking at least a few espresso drinks a day) I began researching the effects of the several medications to which I had finally resorted (… See Moreapologies to my acupuncturist!) for my allergies, overreactive sinuses and consequent sinus infection.
    It turned out that Levaquin, a kick-ass (and well-tuned) anti-biotic in the fluoroquinalone family, and it relatives therein, diminish the body's ability fully to process caffeine, eventually resulting in an enduring effect of 5 cups of coffee per every 1 cup consumed. Despite Levaquin's advantages of being able to penetrate bone structure to reach sinuses, having a broad spectrum, and being particularly effective against strep infections (typical in sinuses) but not killing helpful digestive bacteria, this was a serious disadvantage.
    The worst part of it was that I had to suffer the embarrassment at my favorite coffee roastery/café here in San Francisco (Four Barrel!) of ordering a half-caf/half-decaf soy latté, and cutting myself off after one (=2.5). But my barista friends were greatly amused by this story and happy to oblige.
    I know that several medical theories about coffee – including one that caused a stir when advanced by a Nobel Laureate twenty years ago, that coffee causes cancer – have been debunked or disconfirmed by subsequent research, and I would like to investigate the claims in Heather's article more fully. It would be good to have references to the research in an article such as this, and also to know the levels of use at which negative effects are seen.
    Waylan's response reminded me that when that stir-causing theory was reported in the New York Times, I was a graduate student teaching assistant in philosophy, and showed the article to the highly-caffeinated ethics professor for whom I was working, a respected anti-death-penalty scholar and activist. "Well, I guess we will just have to learn to live with that…", he said, referring to cancer; not a funny line for cancer survivors or victims' loved ones, but nonetheless funny, esp. from him, so anti-death, at the moment.
    Dana D
    holy sh*t, well that certainly lays it out,,,,ok ok.
    very succinct and to the point, coffee addicts need that. thank you.

  12. Some people like polka dots, some people like stripes.

  13. I've read this. Now I'm going to the Trident Booksellers and Cafe to get my macchiato.

  14. I love coffee, but I don't drink a lot of it cause it makes me anxious due to the caffeine. However you can't call it evil and not really back it up.

    But there has been a 13 years study in the Netherlands just published…

  15. Alex says:

    There is a 2005 study that shows that coffee reduces the risk of liver damage among alcoholics:

    A more recent study shows that caffeine slows the progression of Hepatitis C:

    I would be interested to see what science backs up the author's claim of coffee being toxic to the liver, since I can only find studies that seem to indicate the opposite.

  16. Thanks for all of the great feedback. This article is really for regular coffee drinkers, which most people are.

    Most coffee drinkers drink daily. If you treat yourself a few times a month, I wouldn’t worry about it. Enjoy.

    Some of what I reference is from my own clinical experience. All coffee drinkers I treat are dehydrated. You don’t have to feel thirsty to be dehydrated.

    Decaf- It still triggers the body to release cortisol- the stress hormone. Sorry!

    I didn’t put references in, because I want this article to be an easy read. Thanks for doing your own research. I always encourage this.

    Wikipedia is not always accurate. Please keep that i mind.

    Dr. Weil isn’t as strict about what you should put in your body as I am. If you drink coffee regularly, you might not feel how your body is responding. Your adrenals being stressed out and your liver becoming toxic is something you won’t feel right away.

    I think it’s great, that was such a big response to this article. People love their coffee. My goal was to get the conversation going and at least get people to think about what they’re putting in to their bodies. That’s the first step.

    Maybe try green tea. Or better yet Kombucha.

    Live natural. Live well.

  17. Heather says:

    p.s. I did not originally include the world 'evil' in the title of this article. That's elephant journal's decision. "What? No Coffee?!?!?" was my title. I guess 'evil' gets people's attention.

  18. […] for the Cure. Every body gets Old. Come Live the Life You’re Given. Coffee: Evil. Hipster Puppies. Gita Talk #3: It’s Showtime. Please Start […]

  19. Blake says:

    I am weening myself off of coffee but not because it's unhealthy. Rather, it's another something that I spend energy, time and money acquiring which is not necessary. I'm not giving it up completely, mind you! I will surely order a cup when I go out for breakfast! I am just no longer buying in for my home or from a coffee shop.

  20. Jax says:

    Another point of view…. how coffee is good for you!

  21. […] like that they automatically make you drink water, before and after practice: so many of us live on coffee and other anti-nutritive liquids, which take their toll on us and our yoga practice, so it’s nice to be encouraged to hydrate […]

  22. Steve S. says:

    TCE hasn't been used to decaffeinate coffee or tea for years. Most producers use supercritical water or carbon dioxide to remove the caffeine.

  23. Adrenaline says:

    But in blogs I have read coffee is said to have many important healthy results, anything which is consumed too much has a unhealthy effect on your body. 

  24. […] coffee, tea, water or some other beverage in hand at all times. It will give you something to fiddle with […]

  25. elephantjournal says:

    Rey NurAini Coffee isn't a drink or food, it's a medicine that consists caffein,etc…but sometime i need too
    9 hours ago · LikeUnlike
    Phillip C. Seaton Coffee. Good.
    8 hours ago · LikeUnlike
    Susan Hopkinson
    Depending on your basic constitution, coffee can be useful to you or simply poison. According to Ayurveda, Kapha types will benefit and tolerate coffee better than Pita and Vata types. According to chinese medicine, a person who is addicted… to caffeine is in such a state of adrenal exhaustion they do not recognise the symptom of fatigue as a cue to slow down, and they keep upping their intake instead. I take my coffee in homeopathic doses with some milk and a bit of sugar (half-shot latte, to you Starbucks peeps) which is my personal compromise.See More
    8 hours ago · UnlikeLike · 1 personLoading…
    Annalisa Robusto Yes
    8 hours ago · LikeUnlike
    Martin Collins To get these ill effects…..are we talking about abusers of the substance? How much do you have to drink for all these bad things to happen?
    6 hours ago · LikeUnlike
    Liz Stasieczko Moderation is the key, in all things, for a healthy and balanced life. Coffee is not evil and it does have some health benefits. If you are drinking it 24/7, shaky and sleepless, then it is not healthy.
    5 hours ago · LikeUnlike
    Evelyn Ruut I have NEVER felt better in my life having switched to tea. No jangles, no shakes, no crashes. Coffee definitely messes around with some peoples blood sugar. I love it, but cannot drink it anymore.
    3 hours ago · LikeUnlike
    Helena Westby This is one of my "weak" spots… Need to drink less coffee 🙂
    about an hour ago · LikeUnlike
    Jade Bratz but Colombian coffee is just great! 😀

  26. Tia says:

    just give up giving up

  27. That foul brew made from beans roasted in Hell…I love it so….

  28. Emily says:

    I have to agree with Dan, as well. As soon as I read the quote about depositing impure blood into cells, I immediately questioned why this article was even published. I would rather hear from someone with solid, scientific studies to back up these claims.

  29. iloveginger says:

    i was a heavy coffee drinker and made the switch to organic yerba mate about 2 years ago- its amazing how good I feel!!! we buy mate in bulk and brew in coffee maker. Do you know if the "caffeine" in mate is the same?

  30. iloveginger says:

    i was just reading two studies last week re: caffeine and gastrin production; enjoying at least two cups of coffee causes immediate/lasting elevation of serum gastrin levels— higher gastrin levels, more HC acid= possible promotion of acid-reflux disease GERD, and ulcerations. The Prilosec people love coffee drinkers!

  31. Coffee is prana. The only reason it's not mentioned in the yoga sutras is that they didn't have it in India at the time. If they had, the first sutra would be: "first, drink coffee," and the practice of yoga would proceed from there.

  32. Lynn says:

    As i say for mostly everything…..MODERATION is key! One cup of morning java aint going to kill ya! If i listened to everyone about being Vegan, not eating meat, fish, eggs, not drinking water because its polluted or drink wine because you may get cancer, etc….
    It seems like everything gives us cancer these days and you know what? – we are all going to die someday from whatever so why not enjoy life, find balance in what we eat and do. Its much better than worrying and analyzing. You have to have fun in life and enjoy lifes pleasures! A little bit of everything sounds good to me! Enjoy that cup morning java, that nice steak once a week and glass of wine at the end of your day! Guilt free… Cheers!

  33. iloveginger says:

    thank you! but i try not to use wikipedia as my source of solid information. For me, mate most def does not make me feel stoned– rather im super energized, enthusiastic and excited about life! haha im serious mate has changed my life since switching from coffee. i love my addictions to naturally include vitamins, minerals, amino acids & antioxidants!

  34. macaklinka says:

    I find it interesting that the author credits all the bad effect of coffee to caffeine, but in the end recomends switching to green tea, which contains caffeine just the same?!

  35. Deb Shaw says:

    I switched over to chicory about a month ago. The flavour is similar to coffee, but richer, with tantalizing over- and under-flavours. Chicory increases the small intestine's absorption of calcium and other nutrients, and purges the liver. I am so happy to have made this choice, although, I have to get my energy rush from a B-Complex vitamin pill now.

  36. […] Coffee: Evil. ~ Heather Lounsbury | elephant journalJun 15, 2010 … Incorrect source, offensive, or found a typo? Want to write? Heather Lounsbury, L. Ac. is an acupuncturist, nutritionist, environmental activist and … […]

  37. tecumseh says:

    always be suspicious of medical advice that offers zero empirical research to support it.

    Moderate coffee drinking is harmless and probably healthy:

  38. I don't care about the health effects – I find coffee to be disgusting regardless!

  39. Jess says:

    As with everything else in life–everything in moderation. I like coffee. I also like water. I feel pretty balanced.

  40. rogerwolsey says:

    I find it curious that the article, nor none of the comments, have addressed what truly is evil about most coffee brands on the market — the economic exploitation of the farm laborers who grow the stuff. I highly encourage people to strive to purchase Fair Trade certified coffees that ensure that the workers are paid a living wage. If we're willing to pay extra money for cage free, organic eggs, that are more humane for chickens, then you we should be even more willing to pay a bit more for coffee that is more humane for humans.

  41. eiLight says:

    Have to agree with Alex here — this is what I've found in extensive research on coffee's influence in HepC cases and generally on liver. There are a great number of studies that will confirm this.

  42. svhk says:

    If you think this doesn't worry you because you are a tea drinker, think again. Coffeine and teine (not sure of the english spelling there!) are the same substance. Not only that, but they are both soluble in water. The larger the amount of water (e.g. tea vs. espresso) the more of the substance is ingested.

  43. Kogen says:

    Maybe I'll just read this article every morning to wake up. Terrifying!

  44. jevette says:

    THANK YOU! Agree Completely.

  45. Mark says:

    Eat well and exercise. If you are doing these the coffee will be a small problem. If you don't you are dead already so you might as well go down drinking coffee.

    Nescafe is not coffee. It's coffee flavoured dish water.

  46. Jolanda says:

    It's makes a big difference how you make coffee, which beans you use, how you roaster and grinder. and which coffee you drink an espresso of hand lever espresso machine or filtercoffee.

  47. Deanna says:

    Thanks for the informative article. However, these may be effects of coffee/caffeine for some but not all, in my opinion. My opinion is based on everything I have read…from studies to professional opinions. I have seeked information on coffee because of my love for the taste and being a nutritarian. I have learned that some people metabolize caffeine quickly while others slowly. Those who metabolize slowly are the ones more prone to these effects. Also…anything in excess usually leads to negative effects…not just coffee.

  48. Ashlee says:

    I like how the author made a comment that she didn’t use references as it needed to be an easy read.

    Mate, unless it’s fairies and unicorns from the depth of your mind, ALWAYS reference published word. Otherwise it’s non-fiction.