Wake Up! and Smell the Coffee

I’m not here to tell you whether coffee is good or bad for you, the simple answer is “yes and no”. As an aromatherapist I am simply fascinated by the olfactory effect it has on us.

The jury is well and truly out on the world’s most popular hot drink. Health experts are divided in their opinion; 

In the “Encouraging Corner ” we hear coffee has antioxidant benefits that combat free radicals and slow down the ageing process. It can increase circulation and stimulate the liver. 

In the “Discouraging Corner” we hear caffeine is addictive making us reliant on a stimulant, can raise blood pressure and can burn out theadrenals. 

The old adage “all things in moderation” and “know your body”  should be at the forefront as you imbibe an infusion of  your favourite Arabica or Robusta coffee bean. 

It’s the most common 1st drink of the day, it props up business and social meetings and has even become a welcome verb “let’s do coffee!”.
Here’s a look at what goes on when coffee is in and around us.

Physiologically, coffee acts as a stimulant to the Central Nervous System, Caffeine is believed to work by blocking the receptors on the neurotransmitter adenosine thus increasing excitability in the brain. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep and caffeine is the key reason why coffee boosts brain function – it blocks the neurotransmitter that makes you sleepy. 

Aromatically, studies show how just the smell of coffee can actually perk up the brain. A group of 114 students were split into two teams and measured on their results of a Graduate Management Test. The group who were exposed to the aroma of coffee scored “significantly higher”. Interestingly, (such is our perception of coffee being linked to alertness) the students said they expected to be top of their game in the coffee environment, suggesting the placebo effect was also at work. Are we now Pavlov-style responding with an alert mind at first waft of a coffee bean? It seems so  

(Source : Journal of Environmental Psychology 2018).

Final Note : If you are struggling with sleep but still want to enjoy your coffee then you’d be wise to time it closer to morning time as caffeine can still be circulating in your body 6-12 hours after consumption. Please see my earlier blog ” Give Yourself the Gift of Sleep” to find out more.  

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1st August 2020

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