A research team's study on coffee revealed that one of the world's favorite beverages has more effects on the body than previously thought. One of its effects can even be considered as the opposite of the effects of cannabis.
More Than A Cup Of Joe
Apart from being a good way to begin the day, coffee is known to have various physical effects on the body that can go from the negative to the positive. On one hand, drinking too much coffee can cause palpitations, migraines, and insomnia, but on the other hand, it could also protect the body from malignant cells and diseases such as Parkinson's disease.
However, a new study by researchers found that coffee affects the body in more ways than previously known. To conduct their study, researchers conducted a three-month trial, which entailed 47 participants to abstain from coffee on the first month, drink four cups a day on the second month, and eight cups a day on the third month. Blood samples were collected after each stage of the study.
Interestingly, researchers found that the neurotransmitters related to the endocannabinoid system actually decreased after drinking four to eight cups of coffee. This is the same system that is affected by cannabis, and the observed decrease suggests that drinking such an amount of coffee yields the opposite effects of using cannabis.
Cannabinoids are the chemicals that give cannabis its known recreational and medical properties, but the body also produces endocannabinoids, chemicals that mimic the effects of cannabinoids. Based on the findings of the current study, it appears that there is an overlap in the systems that are affected by cannabis and coffee and, in this case, yields opposite results.
Researchers state that this response to coffee is perhaps the body's response to stress, particularly since the endocannabinoid metabolic pathway is actually a significant player in the body's stress response.
"The increased coffee consumption over the two-month span of the trial may have created enough stress to trigger a decrease in metabolites in this system. It could be our bodies' adaptation to try to get stress levels back to equilibrium," said Marilyn Cornelis, PhD of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, lead author of the study.
Metabolites In The Blood
Apart from affecting the endocannabinoid metabolic system, researchers also found more ways in which coffee affects metabolites in the blood. In fact, the researchers found changes in 115 metabolites in the blood, 34 of which do not have names or known purposes in the body, while the other 82 have their own roles in 33 different body purposes.
For the study, researchers focused on five affected biological processes including caffeine metabolism, which is the process of breaking down caffeine after consumption; benzoate metabolism, which breaks down the other compounds in coffee; and the aforementioned effects on endocannabinoids.
Researchers also found an increase in the concentration of steroid metabolites in the blood, specifically ones that are linked to steroid excretion. This suggests that perhaps coffee may help break down steroids in the body. Further, researchers also found significant changes in the fatty acid acylcholines, something that they find difficult to explain.
All in all, the findings suggest that perhaps there is more to discover about how the popular drink affects the human body.
The study is published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.