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On The Effects Of Coffee 1803 Dr. Samuel Hahnemann

Dr. Samuel Hahnemann
On order to enjoy a healthy and long life, man requires foods which contain nutrious, but no irritating, medicinal, parts, and drinks which are either merely diluent, or diluent and nutrious at the same time, but which contain no medicinal and irritating component parts, such as pure spring water and milk.

In the way of accessories to stimulate the taste, the only substances that have been found to
be harmless and suitable for the human body are kitchen salt, sugar and
vinegar, all three in small, or at all events, moderate quantities.

All other accessories, which we term spices, and all spirituous and fermented liquors,
bear a greater or less resemblance to medicines in their nature. The nearer
they resemble medicines, the more frequently and the more copiously they are
taken into our bodies, the more objectionable are they, the more prejudicial to
health and long life.

Most objectionable of all is the frequent use of purely medicinal substances of
great power as articles of diet.

Among the ancient, wine was the only purely medicinal drink, but the wise Greeks and
Romans at least never drank it without diluting it plentifully with water.

In modern times many more purely medicinal drinks and condiments have been added to our diet: snuffing and smoking tobacco, chewing tobacco and hemp-leaves, eating opium and
agaric, drinking brandy, several kinds of stimulating and medicinal beers, tea
(Chocolate belongs to the nutritious articles, when it is not too highly
spiced: otherwise it is objectionable, or even hurtful.) and coffee.

Medicinal things are substances that do not nourish, but alter the healthy condition of the body any alteration, however, in the healthy state of the body constitutes a kind of
abnormal, morbid condition. (In proportion as the substances we call medicines
can make the healthy body sick, so are they calculated to remove the abnormal
states dangerous to life, which go by the name of diseases. The sole end of
medicines consequently is, to change the abnormal, the morbid state, that is,
to transform it into health. Used by themselves, and when no disease is
present, they are absolutely hurtful things for health and normal life. Their
frequent use as articles of diet deranges the harmonious concordance of our
organs, undermines health and shortens life. A wholesome medicine for a healthy
individual is a contradiction of terms.)

Coffee is a purely medicinal substance.

All medicines have, in strong doses, a noxious action on the sensations of the healthy
individual. No one every smoked tobacco for the first time in his life without
disgust no healthy person ever drank unsugared black coffee for the first time
in his life with gusto –a hint given by nature to shun the first occasion for
transgressing the laws of health, and not to trample so frivolously under our
feet the warning instinct implanted in us for the preservation of our life.

Bu continuing the use of these medicinal articles of diet (whereto fashion and example seduce
us), habit gradually extinguishes the noxious impressions that they at first
made upon us they even become agreeable to us, that is to say, the disagreeable
impressions their ingestion at first produced do not strike us so much as we go
on using them, and their apparently agreeable effects upon our organs of
sensation gradually become necessary to us. The ordinary run of mankind esteems
even factitious wants as happiness, and gradually associates with their
satisfaction the idea of relish.

Perhaps also, inasmuch as by their use we become to a certain degree sickly, our instinct
tries from time to time at least to alleviate this indisposition occasioned by
the continued us of these medicinal articles of diet, by means of the
palliative relief which they are capable of affording to the malady produced
from time to time by themselves.

In order to understand this proposition, we must take into consideration the fact that all
medicines produce in the body conditions the opposite of one another. Their
commencing action (primary action) is the direct opposite of their secondary
action, that is, of the state they leave behind in the body when their primary
action has ceased some hours. (For instance, to-day jalap powder purges, ad
to-morrow and the next day there follows constipation.)

Most medicines produce, both in their primary and secondary action, disturbances in the
healthy body and disagreeable sensations and pains, a certain set of these in
their primary action and another opposite set in their secondary action, and
even their prolonged employment excites no agreeable effects in the healthy

Only the few medicinal substances that the refinement of a sensual world has chosen to
introduce among articles of diet, form in some degree, an exception to this, at
least in their primary action. They possess the peculiar property, when continued to be used in moderation, to create in their primary action of a sort of artificial exaltation of the ordinary state of heath, an artificial exaltation of the life and almost only agreeable sensations, whilst the disagreeable effects their secondary action tends to develop remain for some time of little importance, as long as the individual is pretty well in health, and leads in other respects a healthy and natural of life.

To this small class of medicines introduced into our dietary belongs coffee, with its partly
agreeable, partly disagreeable effects, both of which, strange though it may appear, are but little known.

Its irregular, unrestricted use in ordinary life, at almost all times of the day, its
employment in such various strength and quantity, its preparation under the
most dissimilar conditions, its general use by persons of the most various ages
and constitutions, of the most different health and habits of life, deprives
the observer of all means of seeing its action aright, deprives the observer of
all means of seeing its action aright, and makes it excessively difficult to
ascertain its true action, and thence to draw pure inferences. So a disk may be
covered with the clearest characters and words, but all will be unrecognizable
if the disk be whirled round with great rapidity in that case everything runs
together, even to the eyes of the most sharpsighted.

It is only by accurate, prolonged, unprejudiced observation, as free as possible from all
sources of deception, and by carefully tracing back the phenomena to their
cause, that we can obtain accurate knowledge respecting the most important of
all beverages, coffee.

Its primary action is in general a more or less agreeable exaltation of the vital activity
the animal, the natural, and the vital functions (as they are called) are
artificially exalted by it during the first hours, and the secondary action
that ensues gradually after the lapse of several hours is the opposite –disagreeable
feeling of existence, a lower degree of vitality, a kind of paralysis of the
animal, natural, and vital functions. (“When I awake in the morning,†writes
a genteel, consummate coffee-drinking lady, †I have the power of thinking,
and the activity of an oyster. â€

When a person unaccustomed to the use of coffee drinks a moderate quantity, to one accustomed to its use drinks an immoderate (The expressions moderate and immoderate must only be understood in a relative and individual sense they cannot be defined by
fixed magnitude and figures of universal acceptation. Thus a certain prince, H.
C. V. C., reared in a luxury, who is now dead, required for an allowance, every
time he drank coffee, an infusion of fourteen ounces of the roasted bean, whereas
we meet with persons who are very strongly affected by a quarter of an ounce.
Each person must fix his own standard according to his peculiar corporeal
system. One can bear more than another. Moreover the whole series of agreeable
symptoms of the primary action of coffee I have here described does not appear
in every one, at all events not all at once, but only one a time, some in one,
others in another, in this one more, in that fewer.) quantity, for the first
hours the self-consciousness, the feeling of his existence, of his life,
becomes more lively. He gets a circumscribed redness of the cheeks, a redness
which does not become gradually lost in the surrounding parts, but which
presents the appearance of a well-defined red spot. The forehead and palms of
the hands become warm and moist, He feels warmer than before he feels
agreeable, yet uneasily warm. The occurs a kind of voluptuous palpitation of
the heart, somewhat resembling that occurring during great joy. The veins of
the hands swell. Externally also he is warmer to the feel than natural, but his
warmth never comes to the length of heat, even after a large quantity of coffee
(it sooner turns into general perspiration) none ever become burning hot.

Presence of mind, attention, sympathy, become more active than in the healthy natural
state. All external objects appear to excite a feeling of pleasure, they take
on, if I may be allowed the expression, a joyous varnish, and if the quantity
of coffee taken was very great, they assume an almost over-pleasing lustre. (If
the quantity of coffee taken be immoderately great and the body very excitable
and quite unused to coffee, there occurs a semilateral headache, from the upper
part of the parietal bone to the base of the brain. The cerebral membranes of this
side also seem to be painfully sensitive. The hands and feet become cold on the
brow and palms cold seat appears. The disposition becomes irritable, and
intolerant no one can do anything to please him. He is anxious and trembling
restless, weeps almost without cause, or smiles almost involuntarily. After a
few hours, sleep comes on, out of which he occasionally starts up in affright.
I have seen this rare state two or three times.) During the first hours the
coffee drinker smiles contented with himself and with all external objects, and
this property it was that mainly tended to make coffee a social beverage. All
the agreeable sensations communicated are speedily increased to enthusiasm
(though only for a short time). All sorts of disagreeable recollections, or
disagreeable natural feelings cease during this kind of blessed fever.

In the healthy natural states of the human being, left to themselves, disagreeable sensations
must alternate with agreeable ones this is the wise arrangement of our nature.
During the primary action of this medicinal beverage, however, all is delight,
and even those corporeal functions which in the natural state of health are
accompanied by an unpleasant sensation almost bordering on pain, are now
performed with extreme ease, almost with kind of pleasure.

In the first moments or quarters of an hour awaking particularly when this takes place
earlier than usual, everyone who in not living completely in a state of rude
nature, has disagreeable feeling of not thoroughly awakened consciousness, of
confusion, of laziness, and want of pliancy in the limbs it is difficult to
move quickly, reflection is a labour.

But, see, coffee removes this natural disagreeable sensation this discomfort of the mind and
body, almost instantaneously we suddenly become completely alive.

After completing our day ’s labour we must, in the course of nature, become lazy a
disagreeable feeling of weight and weariness in our bodily and mental powers
make us ill-humoured and cross, and compels us to give ourselves up to the
requisite rest and sleep.

This crossness and laziness, this disagreeable weariness of mind and body on the approach of natural sleep, rapidly disappears on taking this medicinal beverage, and a
dispersion of sleepiness, a factitious liveliness, a wakefulness in defiance of
nature occurs.

In order to live we require food, and see! Nature compels us to seek it and replace what has
been lost, by hunger, or gnawing uncomfortable sensation in the stomach, a
tormenting longing for food, a quarrelsome crossness, chilliness, exhaustion, etc.

Not less uncomfortable is the feeling of thirst, nor is it less a wholesome provision of
nature. Besides the longing desire for liquids which our body needs for its
restoration, we are tormented by a dryness of the throat and mouth, a dry heat
of the whole body, that to a certain extent impedes the respiration, a
restlessness, etc.

We drink coffee and see! We feel but little or nothing more of the painful sensations of
hunger, nor of the anxious, longing sensation of thirst. Genuine
coffee-drinkers, especially those ladies addicted to its use, who are deprived
of the opportunity of recovering from the bad effects of this drink by
occasional exercise in the open air, experience little or nothing more of the
real sensations of hunger and thirst. In this case the body is cheated of its
nutriment and drink, and the cutaneous vessels are at the same time unnaturally
forced to absorb from the atmosphere as much moisture as is requisite to carry
on the functions of life.

Confirmed coffee-drinkers pass much more urine than the quantity of fluids they drink.
The most natural demands of nature are stifled. (Thus they gradually approach
– thanks be to the divine beverage! – to the condition of the blessed
spirits above a true commencement of beatification here below.)

The all-bountiful Preserver of all livings beings, made the healthy man feel
uncomfortable on taking exercise immediately after having satisfied his
appetite with food this uncomfortable feeling was intended to compel us to
leave off our business and to rest both the body and the mind, in order that
the important function of digestion might be commenced undisturbed. A lassitude
of body and mind, a constriction in the region of the stomach, a kind of
disagreeable pressure, a fullness and tension in the abdomen, &c., on
taking exercise, remind us when we attempt to exert our energies immediately
after a meal, of the rest that is now required – and of we attempt to
exercise our thinking faculty, there occurs a lassitude of the mental powers, a
dullness of the head, a coldness of the limbs, accompanied by warmth of the
face and the pressive sensation in the stomach, combined with a disagreeable
sensation of tension in the abdomen, becomes still more intolerable, proving
that exerting the mental powers at the commencement of the process of
digestion, is more unnatural and more hurtful than even exertion of the body.

Coffee puts a sudden stop to this lassitude of mind and body, and removes the disagreeable
sensation in the abdomen after a meal. The more refined gourmands drink it
immediately after dinner – and they obtain this unnatural effect in a high
degree. They become gay, and feel as light as though they had taken little or
nothing little or nothing into their stomach.

The wise Regulator of our nature has also sought to compel us by disagreeable sensations
to evacuate the accumulated excrement. There occurs an intolerable anxiety
conjoined with a no less disagreeable feeling of straining, whereby all the
agreeable sensations of life are put a stop to, and, as it were, swallowed up
in it, until the evacuation is commenced. It is a necessary part of our nature
that there should be some effort in the expulsion of the excrements.

But this has been provided against by the refining spirit of our age, which has sought to
elude this law of nature likewise. In order artificially to promote and hasten
the time required for digestion, which in the order of things is several hours,
and to escape the anxious, frequently slowly increasing call to stool, the degenerate
mortals of our times, who strain after enjoyment and have a childish dread of
all uncomfortable sensations, find their means of escape in coffee.

Our intestines excited by coffee (in its primary action) to more rapid peristaltic movements,
force their contents but half digested more quickly towards the anus, and the
gourmand imagines he has discovered a splendid digestive agent. But the liquid
chyme which serves to nourish the body, can in this short time neither be
properly altered (digested) in the stomach, nor sufficiently taken up by the
absorbents in the intestinal canal hence the mass passes through the
unnaturally active bowels, without parting with more than the half of its
nutritious particles for the supply of the body, and arrives at the excretory
orifice still in a half-liquid state. Of a truth a most excellent digestive
agent, far surpassing nature!

Moreover, during thee evacuation itself the anus us excited by the primary action of the coffee
to more rapid dilatation and contraction, and the faeces pass out soft, almost
without effort, and more frequently than in the case of healthy individuals who
do not partake of coffee.

These and other natural pains and disagreeable sensations, which are a part of the wise
ordering of our nature, are diminished and rendered almost unnoticeable by the
primary action of coffee more than by any other artificial means. As quick as
lightening there arise voluptuous images in the mind from very moderate
exciting cause, and the excitation of the genitals to complete ecstasy become
the work of a few seconds the ejaculation of the semen is almost
irrestrainable. The sexual desire is excited by coffee from ten to fifteen
years too soon, in the tenderest, immaturest age in both sexes a refinement
(Enjoyment! Enjoyment! Is the cry of our age –quicker, uninterrupted
enjoyment of life at whatever cost! And this object is to a certain degree
attained by means of this beverage, that accelerates and squanders the vital
powers.) that has the most perceptible influence on our morality and mortality
– not to speak of the earlier impotence that follows as a natural consequence
therefrom. ( [Who, among all the medicinal writers of this period 91803) has
thought so justy, and written so wisely, as Hahnemann? Who among his contemporaries
has promulgated so many facts which have been confirmed by modern
investigations as the founder of homoeopathy?] – Am-P.)

In an individual of very irritable temperament, or who has already been enervated by the copious use of coffee and a sedentary life, the effects I have mentioned appear in a
still more prominent light. Every unprejudiced person must perceive in the
corporeal derangements and sensations affected by coffee, something unnatural,
an over-stimulation. An excessive sensitiveness, or a gaiety greatly
disproportioned to the object of it, a tenderness almost partaking of a
convulsive character, an inordinate sorrowfulness, a wit that is not altogether
under the restraints of reason, an excessive distortion of the features approaching
to caricature, under circumstances where a mere smile, a little joke a slight
perplexity, a moderate expression of grief or sympathy, would have sufficed.

Even the muscles of the rest of the body exhibit an unnatural excessive activity –all is life,
all is motion (though there may be but little cause for it) during the first
hour after partaking of strong, or (to use the often inaccurate language of the
world) good coffee. The ideas and the pictures of the fancy flow in rapid
succession and in a continuous stream before the seat of the imagination and
sensation in the brain –an artificially accelerated, artificially exalted

In the natural state we require some effort to remember clearly things long past immediately
after taking coffee the stores of memory spring, so to speak, into our mouth
– and the consequence often is loquacity, hurried chattering, and letting
things escape from our lips that we ought not to have spoken about.

Moderation and purpose are entirely wanting. The cold considerate earnestness of our
forefathers, the firm steadfastness of will, of resolve, and of judgement, the
endurance of the not rapid but powerful movements of the body, adapted to the
object object in view, that used to consitute the original national character
of the Germans – the whole sublime original stamp of out descent disappears
before this medicinal beverage, and changes into over-hasty disclosures,
hurried resolves, immatured judgements, frivolity, changeableness,
talkativeness, irresolution, flighty mobility of the muscles, without the
production of any durable impression, and theatrical behaviour. (Who can tell
what enervating dietetic practices it was by which those admirable heroic
virtues of patriotism, love of children, inviolable constancy, unshakable
integrity, and strict fulfillment of duties (the well-known attributes of
by-gone times) have in our days almost dwindled down into paltry egotism! Like
wise the single heroic virtues, are now-a days (by what enervating dietitic
practices?) split up into petty intrigues, concealed trickeries and artificies,
and distributed over myriads of individuals – compelling the uncontaminated
person to exercise much caution every step he takes! Which is the more
injurious, a single bomb-shell, or a million of invisible books, distributed
every where to catch the feet of the unwary?)

I well know that in order to revel in the dreams of fancy, in order to compose frivolous novels,
and light, playful witticisms, the German must drink coffee the German lady
requires strong coffee in order to sparkle with wit and sentiment in
fashionable circles. The ballet dancer, the improvisator, the conjurer, the
juggler, the sharper, and the keeper of a faro-bank, all require coffee, as
likewise the fashionable musician for his giddy rapidity of execution, and the
omnipresent fashionable physician, to enable him to rush through his ninety
visits in forenoon. Let us leave to these people their unnatural stimulant,
together with its evil effects to their own health and the welfare of mankind!

But this much is at least certain, - the most refined sensualist, the most devoted debauchee,
could have discovered on the whole surface of the globe no other dietitic
medicinal substance besides coffee, (And to certain extent tea also.)

Capable of changing our usual feelings foe some hours into agreeable ones only, of
producing in us for some hours into agreeable ones only, of producing in us for
some hours, rather a jovial, even a petulant gaiety, a livelier with an exalted
imagination above what is natural to our temperament, of quickening the
movement of our muscles to a kind of trembling activity, of spurring on the
ordinary quiet pace of our digestive and excretory organs to double velocity,
of keeping the sexual practice in an almost involuntary state of excitation, of
silencing the useful pangs of hunger and thirst, of banishing blessed sleep
from our weary limbs, and artificially producing in them even a kind of
liveliness when the whole creation of our hemisphere fulfils its destiny by
enjoying refreshing repose in the silent lap of night.

Thus we despotically overthrow the wise arrangement of nature, but not without injury
to ourselves!

When the first transient effect of coffee has departed after a few hours, there follows
gradually the opposite state, the secondary action. The more striking the
former was, so much the more observable and disagreeable is the latter.

All persons do not suffer equally from the abuse of a medicinal beverage such as coffee is.

Our systems are so admirably arranged that if we live agreeably to nature in other respects a
few errors in diet, if they be not too great, are tolerably harmless.

Thus, for instance, the day-labourer or peasant in Germany drinks brandy, which is so
pernicious in itself, almost every morning but if he only take a small portion
at a time, he will often attain a pretty considerable age. His health suffers
little. The excellence of his constitution and his otherwise healthy mode of
life counteract the injurious effects of his dram almost without letting a
trace appear.

Now, if instead of brandy the day-labourer or peasant drink a couple of cups of weak coffee,
the same thing occurs. His robust body, the vigorous exercise of his limbs, and
quantity of fresh air he inhales everyday, repel the hurtful effects of his
beverage, and his health suffers little or nothing in consequence.

But the bad effects of coffee becomes much more perceptible when these favourable
circumstances are not present.

Man can, no doubt, enjoy a kind of health, though his occupation confines him to the house
–or even to one room –even though he has to live a very sedentary life in
the room –even though he has to live a very sedentary life in the room, and
his body is delicately constituted, provided he live in other respects conformably with his taste. Under the moderate use of only easily digestible, mild, simple, purely nutritious, almost unspiced food and drink, along with a prudent moderation of the passions and frequent renewal of the air in the rooms, even women, without any great exercise, (under such circumstances prisoners also) enjoy a kind of health which doubtless can be readily
compromised by external causes, but which, if these are avoided, may still be
termed a moderate degree of health. In such persons the action of all morbific
substances, that is , of all medicines, is much more striking and severe than
in robust individuals accustomed to labour in the open air, who are able to
bear some very hurtful things without particular injury.

These weakly dwellers in rooms live in the low level of their health but half a life, if I may use
the expression all their sensations, their energy, their vital functions, are
somewhat below par, and they eagerly resort to a beverage that so powerfully
exalts for some hours their vital energy and their feeling of existence,
unconcerned about the results and the secondary action of this palliative.

This secondary action resembles their state before partaking of the coffee, only it is
somewhat stronger.

When the few hours of the above described primary action of this medicinal beverage, that
representation of artificially exalted vital energy, is gone, there then
gradually creeps on a yawning drowsiness and greater inactivity than in the
ordinary state, the movements of the body become more difficult than formerly,
all the excessive gaiety of the previous hours changes into obtuseness of the
senses. If, during the first hours changes into obtuseness of the senses. If,
during the first hours after drinking the coffee, the digestion and the
expulsion of the excrements were hastened, now the flatus becomes painfully
incarcerated in the intestines, and the expulsion of the faeces becomes more
difficult ad slower than in the former state. If, in the first hours, an
agreeable warmth pervaded the frame, this factitious vital-spark now gradually
becomes cold. All external agents appear less agreeable than before. More
ill-humoured than ordinarily, they are more given to peevishness. The sexual
passion which was excited by the coffee in the first hours becomes all the
colder and more obtuse. A kind of speedily satiated ravenous hunger takes the
place of the healthy desire for nutriment, and yet eating and drinking oppress
the stomach more than previously. They have greater difficulty in getting to
sleep than formerly, and the sleep is heavier than it used to be before they
took coffee, and on awaking they are more sleepy, more discouraged more
melancholy than usual.

But look! All these evils are rapidly driven away by a renewed application to this hurtful
palliative –a new, artificial life commences –only it has a somewhat
shorter duration than the first time, and thus its repetition becomes ever more
frequently necessary, or the beverage must always be made stronger in order to
enable it again to excite life for a few hours.

By such means the body of the person whose occupation confines him to his room degenerates
all the more. The injurious effects of the secondary action of this medicinal
drink spread farther around, and strike their roots too deeply to allow of
their being again effaced, if only for a few hours, by a mere repetition of the
same palliative more frequently or in stronger doses.

The skin now becomes generally more sensitive to the cold, and even to the open air though
not cold the digestion becomes obstructed, the bowels become constipated for
several days at a time, flatulence occasions anxiety and causes a number of
painful sensations. The constipation only alternates with diarrhoea, not with a
healthy state of the bowels. Sleep is obtained with difficulty, and bears more
resemblance to a slumber to a slumber that causes no refreshment. On awaking
there are remarkable confusion of the head, half-waking dreams, slowness of
recollecting himself, helplessness of the limbs, and a kind of joylessness that
throws a dark shade over all God ’s lovely nature. The beneficient emotions
of the heart, warm philanthropy, gratitude, compassion, heroism, strength and
nobility of the mind, and joyousness, change into pusillanimity, indifference,
insensible hardness of heart, variable humour, melancholy.

The use of coffee as a beverage is continued, and sensitiveness alternates every more with
insensibility, over-hasty resolves with irresolution, noisy quarrelsomeness
with cowardly compliance, affectation of friendship with malicious envy,
transient rapture with joylessness, grinning smiling with inclination to shed
tears – symptoms of constant hovering betwixt excitement and depression of
the mind and the body.

It would be no easy task for me to indicate all the maladies, that under the names of
debility, nervous affections and chronic diseases, prevail among the
coffee-drinking set, enervating humanity and causing degeneration of mind and

But it must not be imagined that all the evil results I have named occur to every coffee-bibber
in the same degree! No, one suffers more from this, another from that symptom
of the secondary action of coffee. My description includes the whole
coffee-drinking race all their maladies which arise from this source I have
arranged together, as they have from time to time come under my notice.

The palliative agreeable sensation which the coffee distributes from some hours through the
finest fibres, leaves behind it, as a secondary action, an extraordinary
susceptibility to painful sensations, which always becomes greater and greater,
the longer, the oftener, the stronger and the greater the quantity in which the
coffee is drunk. Very slight things (that would make scarcely any impression on
a healthy person not accustomed to the use of coffee) cause in the coffee
drinking lady megrim, a frequent often intolerable toothache, which comes on,
chiefly at night, with redness of the face and at length swelling of the cheek
– a painful drawing and tearing in different parts of the body, on one side
of the face or at one time in one limb, at another in another. (This drawing
tearing in the limbs caused by coffee in its secondary action and when its use
is persisted in for a long time, is not in the joints, but from one joint to
the other. It appears to be more in the flesh or cellular tissue than in the
bones, is unattended by swelling or other abnormal appearance, and there is
scarcely any tenderness on touching the part. Our nosologists know nothing
about it.) The body has a special tendency to erysipelas, either in the legs
(hence the frequency of old ulcers there) or (when suckling) in the mammae, or
on one half of the face. Apprehensive and flying heat are her daily complaints,
and nervous semilateral headache her property. (The megrim above alluded to,
which only appears after some exciting cause, as vexation, overloading of the
stomach, a chill, &c., generally very rapidly and at all times of the day,
differs entirely from the so-called nervous hemicrania. The latter occurs in
the morning, soon or immediately after waking, and increases gradually. The
pain is almost intolerable, often of a burning character; the external
coverings of the skull are also intolerably sensitive and painful on the least
touch. Body and mind seem both to be insufferably sensitive. Apparently
destitute of all strength, they seek a solitary and of possible dark spot,
where , in order to avoid the daylight they pass the time with closed eyes in a
kind of waking slumber, usually on a couch raised in the back, or in an arm
chair, quite motionless. Every movement, every noise increases their pains. The
avoid speaking themselves and listening to the conversation of others. Their
body is colder than usual, though without rigour the hands and feet in
particular are very cold. Everything is distasteful to them, but chiefly eating
and drinking, for an incessant nausea hinders them from taking anything. In bad
cases the nausea amounts to vomiting of mucus, but the headache is seldom
alleviated thereby. The bowels are constipated. This headache almost never goes
off until evening in very bad cases I have seen it last thirty-six hours, so
that it only disappeared the following evening. In slighter cases its original
producer, coffee, shortens its duration in a palliative manner, but it
communicated to the system the tendency to produce it after a still shorter
interval. It recurs at undetermined times, every fortnight, three, four weeks,
& c. It comes on without any exciting cause, quite unexpectedly even the
night previously the patient seldom feels any premonitory signs of the nervous
headache that is to come on the next morning.)

From moderate errors of diet and disagreeable mental emotions there occur painful affections
of the chest, stomach and abdomen (known by the inaccurate name of spasms)
–the catamenia come on with pains, are not regular or the discharge is less
copious and at length quite scanty it is watery or slimy leucorrhoea (generally
of an acrid character) prevails almost the whole time, from one period to
another, or completely supersedes the menstrual flux –coition is often
painful. The earthy, yellowish or quite pale complexion, the dull eye
surrounded by blue rings, the blue lips, the flaccid muscular tissue, the
shrivelled breasts, are the almost suppressed menses alternate with serious
uterine hemorrhages. In males there occur painful hemorrhoids and nocturnal
emissions of semen. In both sexes the sexual power becomes gradually
extinguished. The normal exuberant energy of the embrace of a healthy couple
becomes a worthless bagatelle. Impotence of both sexes and sterility, inability
to suckle a child, ensues. – The monster of nature, that hollow-eyed ghost,
onanism, is generally concealed behind the coffee-table (though indulgence in
the perusal of meretricious novels, over-exertion of the mind, bad company and
a sedentary life in close apartments, contribute their share).

As an inordinate indulgence in coffee has for its secondary effect to dispose the body greatly
to all kinds of disagreeable sensations and most acute pains, it will be
readily comprehended how it, more than any other hurtful substance we are
acquainted with, excites a great tendency to caries of the bones. Nor error of
diet causes the teeth to decay more easily and certainly than indulgence in
coffee. Coffee alone (with the exception of grief and the abuse of mercury)
destroys the teeth in the shortest space of time. (Observations on which I can
depend have convinced me if this.) The confined air of a room and overloading
the stomach (especially at night) contribute their share to this effect. But
coffee by itself is quite capable of destroying in a short space of time this
irreparable ornament of the mouth, this indispensable accessory organ for
distinct speech and for the intimate mixture of the food with the digestive
saliva, or at least of rendering them black and yellow. The loss of the front
(incisor) teeth is chiefly due to the abuse of coffee.

If I except the true spina ventosa, there occurs scarcely a singly case of caries of the bones
in children (if they have not been over-dosed with mercury) from any other
cause than from coffee? (These ulcerations of the bones, which lie concealed
beneath elevated, hard, bluish red swellings of the soft parts, exude an
albuminous looking mucus, mixed with some cheese-like matter, It has very
little smell. The pains of the affected part are very shooting in their
character, The rest of the body presents a pure picture of the coffee
dyscrasia.) Besides these, there are in children other deep-seated flesh
abscesses orifice, which are often solely to be ascribed to the action of the

As a rule, coffee acts most injuriously on children the more tender their age, the worse
its effects. Although it is incapable of itself of producing true rickets, but
can only accelerate them, in conjunction with their special exciting cause
(food composed of unfermented vegetable substances, and the air of close, damp
rooms), yet it of itself excites in little children, even when their other food
is wholesome and the air in which they live good, a kind on infantile hectic.
Which is not much less sad in its results. Their complexion becomes pale, their
muscles quite flaccid. It is only after a long time that they learn to walk a
little, but then their gait is uncertain, they easily fall, and wish always to
be carried. They stammer in their speech. They wish for a great variety of
things, but relish nothing heartily, The drollery, happiness and liveliness
that characterize the age of childhood are changed into indolent dejection
nothing gives them pleasure, nothing makes them contented they enjoy only a
sort of half life. They are very easily startled, and timid. Diarrhoea
alternates with costiveness. Viscid mucus rattles in their chest as they
breathe, especially when they are asleep, which no amount of coughing can
remove: they have always got a wheezing at the chest. Their teeth come with
much difficulty and with convulsion fits they are imperfect, and fall out
decayed before the period for changing them arrives. Mostly every evening, just
before bed-time or after lying down in bed, they get redness and heat on one or
both cheeks. The sleep very imperfectly, toss about at night, often want to
drink they then perspire, not only on the forehead, but also on the hairy
scalp, particularly at the back of the head, and whine and moan in their sleep.

They get through every disease with difficulty, and their recovery is very slow and imperfect.

They are frequently subject to a chronic inflammation of the eyes, not infrequently
accompanied by an eruption in the face, along with peculiar relaxation of the
upper eyelid, which prevents them raising it, even when the redness and
swelling of the lids are but moderate. This kind of ophthalmia, that often lasts
for several years, making them frequently lie upon the face with constant
peevishness and crying, or conceal them selves in a dark place where they
remain lying or sitting in a stooping posture, this ophthalmia, I say, chiefly
affects the cornea, covers it with red vessels and at last with dark spots, or
there occur phlyctneulae and little ulcers on it, that often cat deeply into
the cornea and threaten blindness.

This ophthalmia and that rattling at the chest and the other ailments above described, attack
even infants at the breast, who take nothing but their mother ’s milk, if the
mother indulges in coffee and inhabits a close room. How penetrating must not
the hurtful power of this medicinal beverage be, that even infants at the
breast suffer from it!

After children, coffee acts, as I have said, most injuriously on the female sex, and literary
people whose occupation is sedentary and confines them them to their rooms. To
these may be added workmen engaged in a sedentary trade.

The bad effects of coffee are, as I have above mentioned, most effectually diminished by great activity and exercise in the open air, - but not permanently removed.

Some individuals also find out as if by instinct, a sort of antidote to coffee in the use of
spirituous liquors. It is impossible to deny that they do possess some
antidotal powers. These are, however, mere stimulants, without any nutritive
quality that is to say, they are likewise medicinal substances, which, when
daily used as articles of diet, produce other injurious effects, and yet are
unable to prevent the hurtful action of the coffee from taking effect, - what
they cause are artificial ameliorations, of the vital functions, followed by
morbid effects, though of a different, more complex nature. Leaving off the use
of coffee (It is by no means easy to do away with an inveterate habit of using
coffee. –I first endeavour to convince my patients seriously of the urgent
and indispensable necessity of discontinuing its use. Truth grounded on obvious
experience seldom fails to produce conviction – almost never, when it is
urged from the philanthrophic heart of a physician, who, convinced himself
himself of the goodness of his cause, is thoroughly penetrated by the truth of
his maxims. Nothing will then prevent their reception, there is no question of
any private interest on the part of the doctor and nothing but pure gain on the
side of the party he wishes to convince.

If we have attained this object (whether this is the case or no, he who has a knowledge of
human nature can tell by the way the patient receives his advice), we may
advice that the quantity of coffee taken by reduced by a cup to be continued
for a week longer, until this can either be left off at once, or it may be
continued on every alternate day for another week, according to circumstances.

If we have to do with persons on whom we can rely, the affair is managed in the course of four
weeks. But should some faint-heartedness or indecision on the part of slaves to
coffee make its accomplishment difficult, or should the weak state do the
health-make its discontinuance be too severely felt, we would do well for every
cup of coffee we take away, to allow a cup of tea to be drunk, until in the
course of a week nothing but tea (a similar but lesser evil) is drunk, and
this, as it has not had time to become a habitual beverage, may be more easily
diminished, until at last nothing more of the sort is taken, but only a couple
of cups of warm milk for breakfast, in place of coffee or tea.

Whilst thus breaking off the habit, it is indispensable that the body be refreshed and
strengthened by daily walks in the open air, by amusements of an innocent
character, and by appropriate food, if we wish that the injurious effects of
the coffee should disappear, and the individual be confirmed in his resolution
to give it up.

And if all goes on well, it will not be a bad plan for the doctor, or a friend in his stead, to
assure himself from time to time of the true conversion of his patient, and if
necessary, uphold his resolution when the force of example in company seems to
cause it to waver.) is the chief remedy for these insidious and deeply
penetrating injurious effects, and corporeal exercise in the open air tends to
promote the subsequent recovery. If however body and mind be sunk too low,
there are some medicines very useful for that state, but this is not the proper
place to enumerate them, as I am not at present writing for medical men. When I
describe the daily use of coffee as very prejudicial, and when I shew from observations
and experience f many years that to relaxes and withers the energy of our body
and mind, some may retort upon me the appellation “ medicinal beverage, â€
which I must unhesitatingly bestow upon coffee.

Medicines are surely wholesome things, says the uninitiated.

They are so but only under certain indispensable conditions. It is only when the medicine is
suitable for health, and to employ a medicine as a beverage in the ordinary
healthy state, is hurtful procedure, a self-evident contradiction. I prize them
medicinal powers of coffee when it is appropriately employed as a medicine, as
much as those of any other medicament. There is nought superfluous in God's
creation every thing is created for the weal of mankind, particularly the most
powerful things, to which class coffee belongs in an especial degree. But let
the following facts be borne in mind.

Every single medicine develops in the healthy human body some special alterations, that are
peculiar to itself exclusively. When these are known, and when the medicine is
employed in cases of disease that have an almost exact similarity with the
alteration that have an almost exact similarity with the alteration that the
medicine is capable of itself producing (in the healthy body), a radical cure
takes place. This employment of the medicine is the curative one, the only one
to be relied on in chronic diseases.

In speaking of this power of a medicine to alter the human body in a manner peculiar to
itself, I allude to its primary or initiatory action. I have said above that
the primary action of a medicine (for some hours after it has been taken) is
the direct opposite of its secondary action, or the state in which it leaves
the body whenever its first action is past.

Now if the primary action of a medicine be the exact opposite of the morbid condition of
the body we seek to cure, its employment is palliative. Almost instantaneous
amendment ensues, - but a few hours afterwards the malady returns and attains a
greater height than it had before the employment of the remedy, the secondary
action of the medicine, which resembled the original disease, aggravates the
latter. A miserable method of treatment when we have with do with a chronic

I shall give an example. The primary action of opium in the healthy system is to cause a
stupefying snoring sleep, and its secondary action is “the opposite" of
sleeplessness. Now if the physician will be so foolish as treat a morbid,
habitual sleeplessness with opium, he acts in a palliative manner, The stupid,
snoring, unrefreshing sleep speedily follows the ingestion of the opium, but
its secondary action, as I have stated, is sleeplessness, an addition to his
already habitual sleeplessness, when is now accordingly aggravated. Twenty-four
hours afterwards the patient sleeps still less than before he took the opium a
stronger dose of the latter must now be given, the secondary action of which is
a still greater sleeplessness, that is, an aggravation of the malady, which the
foolish man imagined he was curing.

In like manner, coffee proves a bad palliative remedy when it is used as a medicinal agent, for
example, in cases of habitual constipation proceeding from inactivity of the
bowels (as is usually the case with those who lead a sedentary life in their
room.) – as is often done by medical men. Its primary action is, as I have
before stated, the reverse of this state, - therefore acts here as a
palliative, and if it be used for the first time, or only on rare occasions, it
speedily produces a motion of the bowels, but the following days, under the
secondary action, the constipation becomes all the greater. If we again seek to
remove this in the same palliative manner by means of coffee, more of it must
be drunk, or to must be made stronger, and still the habitual constipation is
not thereby eradicated, for it always returns more obstinately on the
recurrence of the secondary action of the coffee, whenever this palliative
administration of the coffee is discontinued, or stronger and more frequent
potations potations of it are not taken, which always aggravate the disease and
entail other maladies.

It will be found that the medical excuses offered by coffee drinkers in justifications of this
habit almost all rest on some such palliative relief it affords them, and yet
nothing is more certain than the experience that a long-continued palliative
employment of a drug is injurious, but the palliative employment of drugs as
articles of diet is the most injurious of all.

Therefore when I, whilst deprecating its abuse as an everyday beverage, commend the great
medicinal virtues of coffee, I do the latter merely in reference to its
curative employment for chronic ailments that bear a great resemblance to its
primary action, (For example when, in a person unaccustomed to the use of coffee,
there is present (it may be a habitual) indisposition, composed of a frequent,
painless evacuation of soft faeces and frequent inclination to go to stool, an
unnatural sleeplessness, excessive irritability and agility, and a want of
appetite and thirst, but without any diminution of the perception of the
flavour of food and drink, in such a case coffee will, must effect a radical
cure in the course of a short time. In like manner it is, in the frequently
dangerous symptoms brought on a by sudden, great, joyful mental of
labour-pains, which bear much resemblance to the primary effects of coffee.)
and in reference to its palliative employment in acute diseases threatening
rapid danger, which bear a great resemblance to the secondary effects of
coffee. (The following are examples of the excellent palliative employment of
coffee in diseases that come on rapidly and require speedy relief sea-sickness,
poisoning by apparent death of drowned, suffocated, but especially of frozen
persons, as I have frequently had the satisfaction of witnessing.) This is the
only rational and wise mode of employing this medicinal beverage which is
abused by hundreds of millions of individuals to their hurt, is understood by
few, but which is extremely wholesome when used in its proper place.

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Comment by Debby Bruck on March 11, 2014 at 1:34am

I just came across an article listing 19 horrible things that can happen if you drink too much caffeine. Thus, it's not just 'coffee' but many people are taking this "energy" drinks that are pumped up with caffeine, too. 

Comment by Dr Guillermo Zamora on July 16, 2010 at 2:29pm

Dear Dr Kumar:

Good work!

I have heard some homeopaths whose argue that coffee can be given to patients taking remedies because coffee works on the biochemical level. If this is an acceptable explanation, then, should we accept the same argument for using allopathy and homeopathy together?

Samuel Hahnemann: Der Kaffee in seinen Wirkungen

Comment by Dr Rajneesh Kumar Sharma MD(Hom) on July 16, 2010 at 12:07pm
At the time of Hahnemann, there were a number of unexplained notions which are now explained in terms of so called science. It is the time and by-running evolution which changes the views.
Comment by Dr Muhammed Rafeeque on July 16, 2010 at 8:21am
I have seen many homeopaths advising patients to give coffee to their kids when they accidentally take the homeopathic pills. We are just creating a wrong notion among the public that our medicines are so powerless to get inactivated by a glass of coffee. Psorinum is the only drug that should not be given along with coffee. Still, coffee is a "universal antidote" for most of us!

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