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Applications of Coffea Arabica for Human Health

Info: 4442 words (18 pages) Nursing Literature Review
Published: 25th May 2020

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Coffea arabica Report


This report investigated Coffea arabica and its potential applications on human health. A series of scientific studies confirm that this plant does have extensive medicinal applications. However, there are conflicting results, such as its potential to both ameliorate and stimulate cancer growth. Caffeine was found to decrease progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Thus, it is recommended that further research should be conducted in the domain of neurodegenerative attenuation.


Coffea arabica contains numerous components that have salubrious applications on humans (Romualdo et al. 2019). Of these components, caffeine has the most potential in ameliorating these diseases (Prasanthi et al. 2010). This report aims to disseminate the contrasting and conflicting effects of C. arabica’s components on human health, especially in the realm of neurodegenerative diseases (Pelligrino, Xu and Vetri, cited in You et al. 2011; Popat et al., cited in Mellick & Ross 2011).

Materials & Methods

Using RMIT library search and Elsevier online database, literature on the plant Coffea arabica were evaluated and compiled into a review. This review contrasted the benefits and deficits, the unknowns, and the societal applications of said plant. Following this, further literature was synthesised into tables focusing on the neurological effects of C. arabica. As well as an infographic showcasing its applications on Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. These tables and the infographic were produced for the purpose of an informative PowerPoint presentation.


Fig. 1. Process of data collection for C. arabica

Fig. 2. The Societal and Neurological Impact of Caffeine on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

(Made using Piktochart)

Table 1. Activity of compounds found in coffee

Compound Activity Reference
Cafestol Cytotoxic to leukaemia cells Lima et al. 2017
Kahweol Induces apoptosis in breast-cancer cells Oh et al. 2018
Trigonelline Stimulates breast-cancer growth Allred et al., cited in Arthur, Kirsh & Rohan 2018

Table 2. Neurological effects of caffeine

Activity Reference
Increase in midbrain-periaqueductal activation Smith et al. 2012
Increase in self-rated anxiety Rogers et al. 2008
Low dose therapy may attenuate anxiety Cakir et al. 2017
Increase in motivation and energy Ullrich et al. 2015
Antibacterial activity Almeida et al. 2012
Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s Dall’Igna et al. 2007

Fig. 1 highlights the process and methodology of data collection. When the keywords “coffea arabica”, along with “coffee”, were entered into RMIT Library online search, 3,167,908 results were generated. Thus, search was refined to sources from peer-reviewed journals, published within the past fifteen years. Such a refinement generated a reduced 31,221 results. The keyword “health” was then added to search, which reduced the results to 6,926. The majority of useful literature was found to be hosted on Elsevier SD Freedom Collection database. Records were refined to focus on the individual constituents of C. arabica, and then refined to Caffeine. After disseminating the literature, a trend was observed between Caffeine and neurodegenerative disease. Therefore, data collection was focused on Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Fig. 2 details the socioeconomic impact of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. According to the findings, the incorporation of caffeine into treatment may lead to beneficial prognoses for those whom suffer from the diseases (Prasanthi et al. 2010; Laurent et al., cited in Stefanello et al. 2019; Dragicevic et al. 2012; Bandookwala et al. 2019). Statistics and studies selected for the figure were gathered from those pertinent to the United States, as that was where most of the literature was conducted.

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Table 1 showcases the known effects of three major compounds found in coffee, Cafestol, Kahweol, and Trigonelline, and their functions on cancer cell growth (Lima et al. 2017; Oh et al. 2018; Allred et al., cited in Arthur, Kirsh & Rohan 2018). These compounds are not found to play a role in neurological defence.

Table 2 displays the neurological effects of caffeine. It is known to increase anxiety (Rogers et al. 2008; Smith et al. 2012). However, caffeine has the potential to decrease levels of anxiety (Cakir et al. 2017). It may increase motivation and perceived energy levels (Ullrich et al. 2015). Antibacterial activity was also seen when bacteria were exposed to caffeine (Almeida et al. 2012). Lastly, caffeine may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (Dall’Igna et al. 2007).


C. arabica and Cancer

Cafestol, Kahweol, and Trigonelline were studied for their potential effect on health. When Cafestol was co-administered with cytarabine, an antileukemic pharmaceutical, cytotoxic activity against leukaemia was observed to increase, compared to treatment with either compound alone (Lima et al. 2017). Kahweol has potential application in treating breast-cancer, as it reduces gene expression that may lead to the development of said cancer (Oh et al. 2018). This anti-carcinogenic behaviour boasts promising medical applications for C. arabica. However, it also contains the constituent Trigonelline, which may stimulate growth of breast-cancer cells, due, possibly, to its being an oestrogenic compound (Allred et al., cited in Arthur, Kirsh & Rohan 2018).

Caffeine and Anxiety

Caffeine is known to increase self-rated levels of anxiety (Rogers et al. 2008). This is supported, via fMRI screenings, which show increased neural activation of the midbrain-periaqueductal region, which is known to be the area of the brain responsible for anxiety (Smith et al. 2012). This behaviour may be seen as deleterious to human health. However, when administered in a low-dose, caffeine potentially attenuates levels of anxiety (Cakir et al. 2017). It was also may lead to an increase in perceived energy and motivation levels in humans (Ullrich et al. 2015).

Anti-bacterial Activity

According to Almeida et al. (2012), coffee extracts, as well as isolated caffeine, show anti-bacterial activity. However, at levels found in coffee, the effect was only temporary. Higher doses were required to inhibit the bacterium for longer-lasting periods. Although, as seen in the first paragraph, Trigonelline may stimulate growth of breast-cancer cells, it was also observed to provide the same anti-bacterial effect as caffeine.

Alzheimer’s Disease

An estimated 5.8 million Americans are afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, and this figure is predicted to grow to 13.8 million by the mid-century (Alzheimer’s Association 2019). This may factor into increased economic pressure, as Alzheimer’s is predicted to cause a $655.05 billion (USD) deficit (Yang & Levey 2015). Although primary care of Alzheimer’s patients is provided by nursing home staff (Tsong et al. 2018), rates of reported depression in patients decrease when cared for by family (Mess et al. 2018).

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease strains caregivers financially (Martinez-Martin et al. 2018), which may explain the higher incidents of dental caries seen in patients (Sha 2015), as they lack the funds to provide adequate dental care. In those with Parkinson’s disease, significantly higher incidents of anxiety, insomnia, and social dysfunction are reported (Oniszczenko et al. 2018). This may be explained by these patients being perceived as less intelligent, friendly, and attractive than healthy people (Schwartz & Pell 2017).

Caffeine against Neurodegeneration

This could be absolved via treatment with caffeine (Dall’Igna et al. 2007), as it reduces levels of β-amyloid plaque and oxidative stress, which are indicators of the progression of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (Prasanthi et al. 2010; Lim et al. 2018), potentially prevents spatial memory defects (Laurent et al., cited in Stefanello et al. 2019) and increases mitochondrial function in the brain, which translates to increased cognitive energy (Dragicevic et al. 2012).

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Concerning Parkinson’s, alone, caffeine has been shown to diminish oxidative damage when co-administered with the pharmaceutical edaravone (Bandookwala et al. 2019). However, when caffeine is taken in conjunction with the nutritional supplement creatine, it is shown to rapidly progress Parkinson’s (Simon et al. 2017), due to gene expression. Showing the genetic complexity of the disease.


A limiting feature of the collated literature is that much of it focuses on animal modelling. Not only are much of these results non-transferrable to humans, the experiments may not be reproducible, due to ethical concerns.


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