Home My Blog Herb Profiles Botanical Names Glossary Treatments Recipes Other stuff HERB SHOP Books & Equipment Useful Links

Coffee arabica (L)

Synonym: Caffea

Order: Rubiaceae

Description: Coffee is a native of south-west Ethiopia, but is cultivated throughout the tropics. In the wild, the tree reaches a height of 10m but is kept shorter in cultivation. It has evergreen leaves, smooth and shiny on the upper side, 15cm long, 6cm wide, with white flowers in dense clusters at base of the leaves. The berries are red and fleshy, each two-seeded, convex on one side, flat on the other with a long furrowed line running lengthways and covered with a thin parchment.

Parts used: kernel of the dried ripe seed

Constituents: oil, wax, caffeine (more caffeine in fresh than in roasted coffee), aromatic oil, tannic acid, caffetannic acid, gum, sugar, protein, B vitamins

Actions: brain stimulant, soothing action on vascular system, diuretic, antinarcotic, antiemetic.


Therapeutics and Pharmacology: In acute cases of narcotic poisoning coffee can be injected into the rectum. It is said to ward off coma in cases of snakebite. Caffeine is valuable for heart disease, ascites and pleuritic effusion, and also in cases of inebriety. Coffee is rarely used medicinally, but caffeine is a frequent ingredient of many orthodox analgesic preparations as it potentiates the effect of paracetamol and aspirin and produces a feeling of well-being.

Combinations: Combines well with digitalis in the treatment of heart disease.

Caution: excessive amounts may cause sleeplessness and tachycardia.

Additional Comments: The name Coffee is derived from Caffa, a province of Abyssinia (Ethiopia). The coffee shrub was introduced into Arabia in the fifteenth century and for two hundred years Arabia supplied the world's coffee. At the end of the seventeenth century the Dutch introduced the plant into Batavia, from where a plant was presented to Louis XIV of France in 1714. All the coffee now imported from Brazil has come from that single plant.



Grieve, M. 1931 A Modern Herbal, (ed. C.F. Leyel 1985), London.

Wren, R.C. 1988 Potter's New Cyclopaedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations, C.W.Daniel, Saffron Walden.


Back to top

Previous herb Back to Index Next herb


Contact: [email protected] Please complete the 'Subject' heading or your email will be assumed to be spam and automatically deleted. Before you contact me, I'd be grateful if you would please check to see if this website has the answer to your question (search box at the top of the homepage) - I have time to answer only a few of the many emails that arrive in my inbox every day. See also the statement below:

For your safety I am prohibited from giving specific medical advice to individuals over the internet or telephone so please do not waste your time or mine by emailing or calling me with detailed information about your health problems - I can only undertake face-to-face consultations for what should be obvious reasons. Diagnoses cannot be made remotely, and I am unable to offer any advice or treatment until I am completely satisfied that I know what I'm dealing with!  The herb profiles and treatment suggestions on this website will help enable you to choose which herbs might be appropriate for minor ailments. For more serious or chronic conditions you should seek professional advice. This is particularly important if you are taking medication from your doctor or pharmacist, as some herbs can interact adversely with other drugs. If you would like to have a consultation with a medical herbalist then you should click here  then scroll to 'Professional Organisations' at the bottom of the page to find a qualified practitioner in your area.

Christine Haughton, MA MNIMH MCPP FRSPH

Wold Farm, West Heslerton, Malton, North Yorkshire YO17 8RY, UK

Last updated 27th November 2014     ęPurple Sage Botanicals