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Coffee and MS Blend

“It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.”  Dave Barry

Recent medical headlines proclaim coffee as a possible multiple sclerosis preventative. In an article just published, researchers found that people who consume coffee have a lower risk of developing MS than people who don’t drink coffee. The study paper titled High consumption of coffee is associated with decreased multiple sclerosis risk; results from two independent studies, looked at two separate study groups of people, one from Sweden and the second from Northern California.1

They looked at the rates of MS between coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers to come to their conclusion, but I have to wonder where in this country you find enough non-coffee drinkers to sufficiently power a study like this. Every adult I know indulges in coffee on a daily basis but many of us have MS, too. The researchers also looked at tea and soda consumption, two other popular drinks that contain caffeine, and found no correlation with them for reducing MS.

Studies with mice have been done over the past decade to show the beneficial effect of caffeine in reducing neuroinflammation and demyelination- the two major treatment targets of MS. The idea of coffee as a drug continues to percolate in studies everywhere suggesting it may be the next new wonder drug, similar to aspirin in the last century. We all know that coffee contains caffeine, even the decaffeinated varieties have a bit of the stimulant slip through in the processing, but did you know coffee also “contains more than a thousand biologically active compounds” according to this study? I didn’t know that either.2

I do know coffee shows up in studies as being a possible cure or helpful agent for many things including Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Coffee has also been shown to change the odds of an early death thanks to its cardiovascular benefits, and makes extended exercising more efficient and effective. Personally, I know coffee is a tasty agent in helping me get up and staying alert but until now I didn’t know I was doing so much for my health with each sip.

Before you get too excited and up your coffee intake, you might also want to know studies have shown coffee caffeine can disrupt our sleep patterns. It can also increase anxiety but I find no references to coffee’s ability to create unexpected sudden urges for the bladder. It would also be unwise if you don’t now have coffee in your daily routine to amp it up to the 6-8 cups a day found beneficial in this study. That would be like drinking several cans of Red Bull energy drink and could have detrimental effects. You have to add caffeine to your diet gradually.

Coffee is a natural anti-oxidant and is widely acknowledged as the #1 source of anti-oxidants in this country. Joe Vinson, Ph.D., lead author of another study, said that “Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source. Nothing else comes close.” Caffeinated and decaffeinated versions provide nearly the same levels of antioxidants but not caffeine.3

Thanks to the assistance of early coffee roasters like Folgers and Maxwell House, coffee is a beverage that can easily be brewed at home and doesn’t require a prescription. The advent of automatic Mr. Coffee pots, and more recently the latest models of Keurig cups, give us coffee on demand. I’ve been a coffee drinker for many years, but still developed MS so this didn’t work for me, but the concept of coffee as a beneficial drug is well founded in science. The next time you see the lines at Starbucks or Tim Hortons, don’t think of it as people indulging an expensive habit, but instead acknowledge we are working on our health, one cup at a time.

Wishing you well,


This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Hedström A K et al. High consumption of coffee is associated with decreased multiple sclerosis risk; results from two independent studies.. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry doi:10.1136/jnnp-2015-312176.
  2. Tsutsui S et al. A1 Adenosine Receptor Upregulation and Activation Attenuates Neuroinflammation and Demyelination in a Model of Multiple Sclerosis. The Journal of Neuroscience, 11 February 2004, 24(6): 1521-1529; doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4271-03.2004.
  3. Eastman P. New Research on Antioxidants Shows Surprising Role for Coffee. Oncology Times: 25 October 2005 - Volume 27 - Issue 20 - p 39–40 doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000290968.61298.07.


  • rcbaker200
    4 years ago

    Recently a study was publicized showing a decreased incidence of colon cancer with more coffee intake. This is most likely due to the fact that caffeine has laxative properties, therefore the theory is that the cancer causing chemicals in the stool are in contact with the bowel wall less time, therefore less chance to cause cancer.
    There are studies that show that MS is also related to diet and lower fat diets have had some success in slowing the progression of MS. It can be theorized that the laxative effect of coffee lessens the time that the fat is exposed to the colon and therefore less fat is absorbed.
    The interesting thing is that if these studies are true, then the same effect should be able to be obtained by eating a higher fiber diet – fruits, vegetables, and insoluble fiber. And that wouldn’t have the many side effects of caffeine- lack of sleep, anxiety, and many psychological effects in some people.

  • Lisa
    4 years ago

    6-8 cups! Well no wonder it didn’t work for me. Darn it!

  • itasara
    4 years ago

    I was always a Tea drinker, but many years ago, way before I had MS, I started drinking coffee. But rarely that much!! Last year when I had an episode of atrial fib, I was told to cut out or cut down on coffee. But then I read an article that drinking coffee was not a trigger for a-fib. I was also told to take a baby asa everyday and just recenlty another article that taking aspirin for A-fib without other risk factors was totally unnecessary, so I asked a cardiologist about this and he agreed that aspirin like coffee had health benefits was not a trigger. I want the protectiveness of the coffee so I’ve been drinking half coffee and half decaf. Once in a while I’ll drink a full strength cup of coffee. I have not had another incedence of A-fib in over a year. I suspect that maybe dehydration played a role in the first place. I’d like to be able to drink a lot more coffee than I do for the good reasons, but despite the promising articles that it won’t be harmful, I’m still hesitant. I usually drink two mugs of “half n half” a day.

  • Matt Allen G
    4 years ago

    All I can say is… I have been drinking at least one cup of coffee a day for years, in fact, I am going to go make cup 2 right now haha…

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    4 years ago

    Thanks for the laugh, Matt. I’m glad you see the irony and humor in this as I intended. -Laura

  • Gordy
    4 years ago

    I can only assume that you have a mild form of MS , I suffer with Primary Progressive MS, and I can say from experience that caffeine is a trigger, causing inflammation, anxiety and is diuretic. This article is probably promotion for your favourite coffeemakers. Good Luck.

  • Matt Allen G
    4 years ago

    Yeah, the diuretic bit is the WORST when you already have a neurogenic blatter!

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