Natural Health

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Barbara Lamps 

Sometimes as we age there is a need to get rid of stuff. Not everyone accumulates stuff in life. For example, my father was a great non-accumulator. One of his ways of living light was to move often between counties — so less was better. That said, if you have spent the last chapter or chunk of your life in the same place, it's easier to accumulate.

For me, the way accumulation happens is that when someone I love and care for gives me something, I keep it because of their love and the memory it represents. I think it could take years of "separation" (things being boxed up and put away) and an unbiased loved one to help separate my from beloved stuff.

I started thinking about this because of the gratitude that one of my elders and mentors has shown to me for a small act of service I was able to do. Several years ago, when Barbara decided she was ready to pare down and move into senior housing, she knew her accumulation would need to be sorted and dispersed. As a person who often volunteers in areas of manual labor or when a friend needs two extra hands, I jumped in by offering four hours of service a month. My offer was made without her request. Barbara knew she had some time to sort and purge, so she took me up on my offer. Also, we found less was more with this overwhelming task and four hours was plenty of time.

Here how it went: I would come over and we would venture into her basement and look through her things. Some of the things would bring to mind a story, some a discussion of where they came from. If she was ready to let go of the treasured item, we would consider who might like it or be a worthy recipient. If no one came to mind, it would go in a "holding" box for review on my next visit. If we discovered a possible receiver, we would mark the item with his or her name for a later phone call. And if she felt this item should go out into the world at large (the Goodwill, consignment shop, or historical center) we had a box for that as well. Each time I left her house, I would take those boxes to their appointed "recycle" center.

Letting go and sorting through a lifetime of things is a large physical task that takes emotional strength as well physical stamina. I believe that as a non-family member, I was able to help from a detached place, which was a plus. Barbara has said that the gift I gave her was one of willingness, energy, patience, non-judgement, and action. For me, the gift I received was that of sorting through treasures that were visual aids to fill out the story of her life. I also loved hearing her connect some of these dots.

There was a steamer trunk with some of the women's clothing that had taken the journey with a past generation, first addition books that had been beloved through generations, and collections like the oil lamps that had made her living room so cozy.

As we sorted and resorted, Barbara was able to peel back each layer and find which treasure needed to move forward with her. In the end, she moved into a place that accommodated many of her most precious pieces, and at her new place, I can still tell that I am in her home by enjoying the sight of her lovely collections. I am so honored that I was able to help with this intimate task.

How will you help your elders sort through their treasures? Is there a task that needs your gift of time and attention? Can you offer your time and help without being asked?

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page. 



In anticipation of the upcoming CSA season, I thought I would tackle a question that my lovely sister-in-law Wendy asked me some time ago: "How do you pick a good CSA?" That’s a bit hard for me to answer, because we’ve been members of our CSA for the past 20-plus years; I’m out of picking practice. If memory serves me correctly, I narrowed down my choices from two to one by talking directly with the farmers. I like interacting with people I support, so before doing business with someone, my normal route is to figure out if we’re a good human-to-human match. I even do this when choosing most doctors. In talking with both women from different CSAs, I connected more quickly with one than the other. It helped that she and her business partner had graduated from my alma mater, and her reasons for starting the farm also resonated with me. They seemed like the kind of gals I wanted to partner with. The fit between them, their food, their farm, and our family felt right.

Over the past 20-plus years, we’ve gotten to know Annie and Susan through the food they and their crew grows, their Helsing Junction Farm events, their newsletters, and the recipes that come with our produce every week. I feel fed by our CSA community, beyond just the incredibly flavorful food. Every week, from summer through fall, I look forward to eating and sharing all their goodies, even the unexpected and unusual variety of crops that I may have never cooked with before. When I have recommended CSA's to friends and family in the past, they’ve sometimes noted the diversity as difficult for meal planning. I get that, but as a woman with the TV show Chopped as one of guilty pleasures, my box invigorates me to think and cook creatively.

My advice to anyone looking to join a CSA would be to visit your farms of choice and see if the farmer’s values align with your own, check out the past lists of types of shares and what the boxes in those shares were filled with each week, consider whether the delivery site is convenient, find out how they treat their employees, and, if possible, see if you can contact a current customer to ask any further questions.

If someone was looking for a reference for Helsing, I imagine I would say that after our long history together, I still love the value of my share, and I find equal, if not more, value in our partnership. During these summer and fall weeks, I tend to go to the grocery store less, which saves our family a great deal of money, but the savings pale in comparison with the multiple ways Helsing has, and continues to, enrich our lives.

How do you pick who you support with your business and consumption dollars? Have you ever visited a CSA? Are you interested in direct farmer and community membership support?

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) grows wild in temperate regions around the world. A staple among herbalists, stinging nettle is considered a classic “nutritive” herb, meaning it is very nutrient dense and nourishing. Nettle has been used as food, medicine, and a nourishing tonic since ancient times.[1] Urtica comes from the Latin urere, meaning "to burn," because of its erect, bristly hairs covering the leaves and stem which sting when touched. These stinging hairs, along with the leaves’ sharply serrated edges, are distinguishing features of stinging nettle.

Infusing a large amount of dried stinging nettle leaves in water for a long period of time is one of the easiest and most traditional ways to obtain nettle tea benefits.

Nettle’s Nutrients

Stinging nettle is packed with vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals along with hefty dose of potent phytonutrients including deep-green chlorophyll and carotenoids.[2,3] In fact, more than 100 chemical components have been identified in nettle, including:

• Minerals – iron, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, boron, strontium
• Vitamins - A, C, K, and B vitamins
• Phytonutrients - chlorophyll, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin,[4] quercetin, rutin

Packed with Minerals

Nettle tea, made from dried nettle leaves, is perhaps best known for its high mineral content. The leaves are packed with more minerals, especially magnesium and calcium, than a number of other medicinal herbs.[6] One recent study found that dried nettle leaf has more magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, boron, and strontium than dried chamomile, peppermint, sage, St. John’s wort, linden, and lemon balm.[7,8]

The exact amounts of various minerals extracted from the leaves into the tea depends on many factors, including the plant’s growing conditions, the type of mineral, the amount of dried nettle leaves and water used when preparing the tea, and the steeping time. One recent study found that 500 mL (about one quart) of tea made with 20 grams (about 0.7 ounces) of dried nettle leaves, steeped for 30 minutes, contains 76 mg of magnesium, which represents about 20-25% of men’s and women’s daily requirement, respectively.[6] This may not sound like much, but it’s quite remarkable for a beverage. Furthermore, most Western herbalists recommend a slightly higher tea to water ratio and longer steeping times than those used in this study in order to potentially increase the mineral content even more. This is discussed more below; first, let’s take a look at some of nettle tea’s other numerous health benefits.

Other Nettle Tea Benefits

In addition to its high nutrient content, results from preliminary studies show that stinging nettle has many other health-promoting properties.[2,3,5] For example, nettle has been shown to:

• Decrease oxidative stress. The natural polyphenols in nettle leaves are thought to be responsible the powerful antioxidant abilities of nettle tea. Oxidative stress is implicated in accelerated aging as well as many chronic diseases.
• Relieve pain. Nettle tea has analgesic effects.
• Fight infections. Nettles have antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal effects. Nettle tea has notable antimicrobial activity against gram-positive and -negative bacteria when compared with standard and strong antimicrobial compounds.
• Decrease inflammation. Nettles work as a natural anti-inflammatory through a number of different mechanisms, such as decreasing nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB) binding activity to DNA. Nettle extract, used to treat arthritis, has been shown to decrease levels of pro-inflammatory compounds such as interleukin-6 and • C-reactive protein.
• Lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Nettles are used in diabetics to combat high blood sugar and cardiovascular risk factors.[9]
• Fight cancer. Nettles have a beneficial effect in prostate cancer.[10]
• Heal stomach lining. Nettle tea helps heal the mucosal lining of the stomach in the case of ulcers or stomach irritation.
• Treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Nettle roots instead of the leaves are used to decrease symptoms of enlarged prostate.[11]
• One of the best ways to obtain nettle tea benefits is by steeping a hefty amount of the dried, cut leaves in boiling water inside a large, covered container for a long period of time.

A general guideline for making mineral-rich infusions with nutritive herbs like nettle is to use one ounce of dried herb per quart of filtered or distilled water (or about a heaping tablespoon per eight ounces water). One ounce of plant material per quart of water is generally thought necessary to provide a sufficient quantity of minerals if you drink one quart of tea daily. Consider this: an ounce of dried herb is roughly equivalent to four ounces of fresh plant and although not all the minerals are 100% extracted into the tea, this this mineral beverage is like a liquid salad.

Steeping Time

The infusion should be covered and steeped for a minimum of a few hours or up to ten, allowing it to come to room temperature before straining and refrigerating. The long steeping time allows for a more nutrient-dense tea, while the hot water and the cool water pull out different constituents from the herbs.

You can also use a French press or quart size canning jars to make a quart of tea. To making a an even larger batch, simply boil the water, take the pot off the stove and mix in the herbs, cover it and let it sit on the counter for a few hours or overnight. Then strain it and put it in the refrigerator.

Suggestion: Try this mineral-rich iced tea

Try nettles on their own or combined with other nutritive herbs. If you haven’t collected and dried your own herbs, you can buy them in bulk. To help keep you well-hydrated this summer and to obtain a host of nettle tea benefits, make up a large batch of mineral-rich tea to keep in the refrigerator and drink it iced. Here’s a wonderful combination of nutritive herbs for drinking cold: nettle leaf, alfalfa, oat straw or horsetail, and rose hips.

Another popular combination is nettle, oat straw, horsetail, comfrey, red clover, and lemon grass. These are the mineral-rich herbs that make up the Mineral Tea used at the Bastyr Natural Health Center, the teaching clinic of Bastyr University’s Naturopathic Medicine Department. Combining nettles with any of these other high-mineral herbs is safe for long-term use as a tea. If you’re like many, you will start to crave mineral-rich nettle tea after drinking it regularly for a few weeks. You can’t go wrong making nettle tea an everyday beverage!


[1] Urtica: The genus Urtica. CRC Press. June 1, 2004.

[2] Natural Medicines Database. Stinging Nettle Professional Monograph. Accessed June 5, 2015.

[3] Int J Green Pharm 2014;8:201-9.

[4] Nat Prod Chem Res. 2015;3:1.

[5] J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Feb;90(2-3):205-15.

[6] Acta Pol Pharm. 2012 Jan-Feb;69(1):33-9.

[7] Food Chem. 2012 Nov 15;135(2):494-501.

[8] Acta Pol Pharm. 2014 May-Jun;71(3):385-91.

[9] Clin Lab. 2013;59(9-10):1071-6.

[10] Cancer Biol Ther. 2004 Sep;3(9):855-7.

[11] J Herb Pharmacother. 2005;5(4):1-11.

Kathleen Jade, ND is a licensed Naturopathic Physician in the Seattle area where she conducts natural health research and writes for Natural Health Advisory Institute.  Contact Dr. Kathleen by commenting on one of her blogs. She has written a recently released e-Book Fatigue Causes and Relief: Natural Remedies for Excessive Tiredness and Chronic Fatigue.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


One of the first things people do when they decide to live a more holistic lifestyle is to change their diet. We eliminate junk food and add more whole, nutritious foods to our diet. We begin to question the status quo; we annoy people by stopping to read labels on everything from cereal boxes to canned beans. With our heightened consciousness we also start to remove known toxic chemicals from our environment. In a larger sense, we may begin to re-prioritize what we believe are the most important things in life. Spending time with loved ones and getting close to nature are usually pretty high on the list. Learning to use natural resources conscientiously by repurposing what we already have and conserving what we can is also part of a holistic lifestyle. 

Supermarket Inspired Body Care Products

As we slowly make these changes to what we eat and how we interact with loved ones and our environment, we may have overlooked one of the most essential considerations – what we are putting on our bodies. We may be of the belief that what we put on our bodies has no effect on our health or wellbeing, however, this cannot be farther from the truth. We must remember that what we put on our bodies also enters our bodies. In fact, our bodies absorb 60 to 70 percent of topical applications.

Beware Of These Harmful Ingredients

Many commercial body care products are loaded with toxic chemicals. Our skin is literally drinking a chemical cocktail every time we slather on some of these products. Unfortunately, children’s body care products are no exception. Here are a few of the bad guys to watch out for:

• Fragrance (this can be a multitude of chemicals)
• Formaldehyde
• Diethanolamine (DEA)
• Phthalates

• Parabens

• Oxybenzone

• Petrochemicals

• Mercury

• Hydroquinone

Maybe it would be best to understand that if we can’t eat it, we shouldn’t use it on our bodies – and while this may seem like a stretch, it is indeed possible to make body care products solely from truly natural and food-grade ingredients. You can learn to make many body care products from shampoo to foot soaks with natural ingredients. It doesn’t take a lot of time and it is less costly than buying commercial preparations. Just as we feel empowered when we exercise control over what goes on our plates, we can also feel empowered when we have control over what goes on our bodies.

Botanicals for your skin from the Supermarket

Alas, it may be much easier to tackle this concern if we feel more confident in our ability to replace these familiar products without too much fuss, time, or expense. We also need to know that these homemade concoctions work as well as our current mainstays. Homemade products can offer you the same beauty and health benefits without introducing a slew of harsh, toxic chemicals. In many cases, homemade body care products are not only as effective as the alternative, they are also downright wonderful.

Our skin is our interface with our environment, protecting us from outside threats. The skin’s ability to protect us is highly dependent on the health and state of the organ itself. Just as we feed our body internally, we can feed our skin externally with fresh, organic, botanics.

Here’s how easy it is!

Supermarket Inspired Body Care Products

There is no need to head to the nearest health food store, or even scour the internet for suppliers. Just head to your local supermarket (and it doesn’t have to be the fancy one). If you are lucky enough to have a vegetable garden, you may have some of these items just outside your door. Wild plants are an abundant resource for making your own body care products.

Contemplating writing this article, I ventured out to my neighborhood supermarket to walk my talk, so to speak. As I walked into the store I was met with a blast of cold air and the scent of fresh flowers. I naturally took a beeline to the flowers for a quick whiff and some visual delight. Not being able to stay on task, I grabbed a bunch and placed them into my shopping cart before heading to the produce department. In this one section, I believe that I can complete my mission for finding healthful ingredients for my beauty needs. Everything after this is the icing on the cake!

The bouquet of roses in my cart may seem like a frivolous purchase, but this is not necessarily true. Roses (if organically grown) can be used to make infused oils. They are naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory (more on rose benefits here). Rosehips contain high amounts of Vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect skin cells from damage – and the rose bushes in my garden offer up plenty of rosehips every year.

Moving through the produce section, I am greeted by a basket of ginger root. We know that ginger root can treat digestive disorders, but what can it do as a topical agent? Ginger root has antiseptic properties and is warming and stimulating. When used in a facial cleanser, ginger can help stimulate blood flow to the skin’s surface (more on ginger benefits here).

Looking up, I see a row of herbal packets (my personal favorites, no surprise!), including rosemary, thyme, tarragon, basil, parsley, oregano, sage, and the loveliest of all, lavender. Not only do all of these herbs have nutritional properties, but they have powerful healing properties as well. These herbs can be made into infused oils for skincare remedies to soothe dry and cracked skin, plump, stimulate, warm, cool, protect and nourish.

Next, I find hydrating cucumbers; vitamin-rich, moisturizing avocados; versatile lemons with vitamins, minerals, magnesium, potassium, and antibacterial and antifungal properties; bromelain-rich pineapple; humectant bananas; and antioxidant-packed cranberries.

Heading to the inside isles, I find almond milk, nuts, seeds, chocolate, oats, wheat germ, dried spices, dried milk powder, sugar, salt, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, coconut oil, pumpkin seed oil, grapeseed oil, almond oil, tomato juice, tea bags, honey, maple syrup, rice, baking soda, witch hazel, rubbing alcohol, Epsom salts, yogurt, eggs and milk – all of which can be used in fresh, healthy, clean, nourishing body care products that are truly good for your skin.

I am purposely including only recipes that can be made with supermarket finds. As you grow comfortable with the idea of making and using your own skin care remedies, you’ll want to learn about using more natural ingredients that serve as emulsifiers, stabilizers, and preservatives. Essential oils are powerful healers and a superb ingredient for fragrance, healing, and preserving.

So, let’s get to those supermarket skin care recipes!

Herb Packets for Body Care

Three Easy Botanical Recipes for Beautiful Skin

Honey Vanilla Milk Bath Soak


• 1 cup milk
• 1 whole banana

• 2 whole eggs

• ½ cup raw honey

• ½ cup dried milk powder

• 2 tablespoons baking soda

• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


1. Place ingredients into a blender and blend until completely smooth, about 30 - 45 seconds.

2. Pour the mixture into a very warm bath. This soak will clean and moisturize the skin. In order to reap all of the benefits, stay in the warm bath for at least 20 minutes. You may use other natural soaps while in the bath along with your soak.

Yield about 2 cups.

Herbal Lemon Facial Toner


• 1 cup water
• 3 sage leaves

• 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped

• 4 sprigs parsley, chopped

• 2 sprigs thyme, chopped

• 1 sprig oregano, chopped

• 4 tablespoons witch hazel

• ½ lemon, peeled


1. Place the herbs in a medium size saucepan, cover with 1 cup water, and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Allow to cool.

2. Pour the cooled mixture into a blender and blend thoroughly. Strain through a cheese cloth into a clean glass jar. Compost the solid materials.

3. Add the witch hazel and lemon and stir well. Store in the refrigerator in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. This toner can be used after the face has been cleansed and before moisturizer. This is a refreshing, invigorating, vitamin-packed, and antiseptic toner.

Coconut Lavender and Green Tea Skin Moisturizer


• 1 cup coconut oil
• 1 tablespoon grape seed oil

• 1 tablespoon olive oil

• 2 tablespoons loose green tea

• 1 tablespoon dried lavender buds


1. Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over very low heat.

2. Once the coconut oil has liquefied, add the grapeseed oil, olive oil, loose green tea and lavender.

3. Gently heat on very low heat for 45 minutes.

4. Strain through a strainer lined with cheesecloth into a mixing bowl.

5. Beat the mixture with a kitchen mixer just as it begins to harden. You will have a creamy, beautifully scented, hydrating moisturizer that may help prevent skin cell damage. Store in the refrigerator in a glass jar.

Other supermarket skin care tips:

Try cut cucumbers on your eyes to help reduce swelling and dark circles.
Use 1 part sugar to 2 parts olive oil with a drop of lemon for a body scrub to exfoliate – or try making our Calendula Sugar Scrub.

Mix 2 parts Epsom salts, 1 part baking soda, and 1 part fresh herbs in a cheesecloth bundle and toss in the bath for a mineral-rich soak.

Marlene Adelmann is the Founder and Director of the Herbal Academy of New England, the home of the Online Introductory Herbal Course and the Online Intermediate Herbal Course, and meeting place for Boston area herbalists. Photos provided and copyrighted by Herbal Academy of New England.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



One cloudy day in mid-May I was excited about a protest I was going to attend with a new found friend. I had told him that I found the previous protest I attended for the same cause inspiring and important. He said he was be up for the adventure, so off we went.

The crowd on this particular day seemed so actively diverse as people, kayaks, musicians, media, and police gathered. We got the opportunity to see and hear the giant crevasse between good and evil through a couple different interactions with fellow protest-attenders. When I first started to formulate this blog in my head and heart, I thought that I would describe both individuals and their affect on me. As time  past it became clear that giving any more time to my evil encounter was not where I wanted to spend my energy or yours.

So on I go with spreading the good. My friend and I had the good fortune to meet a woman named Pat Holm. She was a picture perfect activist – an elder in civil disobedience movements. The ideas she shared with us have been growing in me ever since. I have even spread her words further, brainstorming possibilities for a communal future with friends and strangers alike. Pat highlighted one key to changing much of what goes on in our country. She talked about an organization called Democracy Collaborative and how expanding and growing employee owned companies would restore the health and well-being of the middle and lower classes in the United States.

In thinking about past blogs, conversations, and the way I continually choose to live and spend my resources I think I have this fairly finely tuned. However, if I was given the opportunity and the financial ability I would help grow employee owned businesses immediately. I would work to spread livable wages, encourage community, keep money out of Wall Street by putting it back in Main Street, all the while giving people a sense of  ownership. I believe if there were more employee owned businesses, everyone would see the value of supporting other employee-owned businesses and the grassroots could raise itself into a mainstream mutually-supportive norm.

I tend to be an optimist who likes to encourage inclusive collaboration, so this idea has endless possibilities for a new model of sustainability. As we always taught Carly sharing is more fun, interesting, and life full-filling than stinginess. As it turns out it many be more sustainable as well.

Do you know what local companies are employee owned? Are you interested in learning more about this model of business? How do you think we can shift the model of business from Wall Street back to Main Street?

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


One of the profound things Carly notes each time she returns to live in the United States is our frenetic relationship with time and how we use time. Recently, after she returned from a hike in the mountains, Carly commented on how the hike had restored her rhythm with time to a more natural flow. Maybe the concept of time and the mechanical energy around its quickening speed is more emphasized in our cities. Maybe we push time to its limits by our job demands and our drive to excel and to innovate. We’re constantly doing our best to fit ten pounds of activities in a five pound bag. I, too, notice a change in the rhythm of time when I travel, when I leave the details of daily life behind me.

That being said, I was able to slow down my relationship with time a couple weeks back. A friend suggested a train trip to Portland from Seattle, and I thought the train and overnight weekend vacation sounded ideal. Having only ridden a train in the U.S. once before—on a day trip to Canada when Carly was little — I was looking forward to our couples’ getaway but had no clue as to what lay ahead.

We boarded the train at King Street Station in Seattle. The grandeur of this station set the stage for slowing down our clock and expectations of our train ride ahead. As we boarded the train, we were impressed by the roominess of the seats and the space surrounding them. After leaving the station, we moved to the observation car, sitting at a table for four, where we could soak up the passing views. As I laid out our picnic, we listened to volunteers from Trains & Rails tell us about the historical highlights. We enjoyed the stress-free train travel as we rolled down the tracks through beautiful Pacific Northwest scenery. Not driving made for a totally stress-free visit, and I believe it slowed down our internal clocks further.

As we arrived in each station along the way, we learned a bit more from our park department volunteers about how our train track came to be and why the routes were established. Four hours later, upon arriving in Portland, we disembarked and walked to our hotel. Being in a public transport-friendly city allowed my frenetic clock to continue to unwind. We walked, explored, ate, and slept during the next 24 hours. When boarding the train the next day, I felt as if my clock had been reset to a slower pace.

Maybe trains are not just for travel but also for reengaging with a more natural rhythm.

How do you slow down your time? Can your rhythm of life be readjusted? Do you think cites and our work lives set the pace of our days?

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page. 


Is Coffee Healthy?

Drinking coffee is often seen as a bad habit, one that has been compared to smoking or alcohol consumption. Most people think they should ditch their coffee habit or at least cut back on it significantly. So is coffee healthy or not? For all you coffee lovers out there who keep a hot cup next to you throughout the day, I have some news you’ll be happy to hear: coffee may no longer be the guilty pleasure it was once seen to be. On the contrary, drinking coffee daily might actually be good for you.

Why is coffee healthy?

Most of us associate coffee with caffeine, a substance that keeps us alert, boosts our energy, and wakes us up in the morning. Aside from these stimulant effects, caffeine also has various protective effects in the body, such as inhibiting the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain.[1] But there is more to coffee than just caffeine. Coffee is also a rich source of healthy polyphenols, which act at powerful antioxidants.[1] These antioxidants, much like those found in blueberries, green tea, and other well-known superfoods, help protect against cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and more.

Drinking coffee daily may help prevent serious conditions

There is an abundance of research showing that instead of causing health problems, as you may have thought, drinking coffee may actually protect your body against a wide variety of diseases and health conditions.

1. Type 2 diabetes. Several studies have demonstrated that people who drink coffee are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. People who regularly drink more than four cups of coffee per day have a lower risk for the disease compared to people who drink less than two cups per day.[2] What’s more, changing your coffee intake may be able to shift your risk; people who increased their coffee consumption by one cup per day had an 11 percent lower risk for type 2 diabetes over four years compared to people who made no change. On the other hand, people who decreased their coffee by one cup per day had a 17-percent higher risk.[3] Long-term coffee intake seems to help maintain glucose tolerance and improve insulin functioning.[4,5] It also has anti-inflammatory effects, which helps protect against type 2 diabetes.[4]

2. Cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Coffee seems to protect against cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease, according to several studies.[6] A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that people who drank three to five cups daily had a decreased risk for dementia by about 65 percent, and a decreased risk for Alzheimer’s disease by about 64 percent.[1] These numbers are quite impressive, suggesting that the common habit of having a few cups of coffee daily may help keep your mind sharp as you age. Read more about how coffee may lower your risk for Alzheimer’s here.

3. Parkinson’s disease. Coffee intake is inversely associated with Parkinson’s disease risk, as well. Researchers found that drinking three cups per day may offer the most benefit.[7]

4. Cancer. There is now evidence that coffee may be a cancer-fighting tool. Coffee consumption is linked to a reduced risk for many forms of cancer, including melanoma, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, liver cancer, and possibly others.[8-12] The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities of coffee are likely largely responsible for these effects. Read an extensive discussion on how coffee may fight cancer here.

5. Liver disease. Coffee also has beneficial effects on liver health. It has been associated with a lower risk for chronic liver disease, liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, and other liver-related health problems. Filtered coffee, as opposed to unfiltered, seems to be best for liver health.[8]

6. Cardiovascular disease. Three to five cups of coffee per day can help lower your risk for cardiovascular disease, including lowering your risk for heart failure and stroke.[13-16]

7. Tinnitus. Surprisingly, high coffee intake seems to also protect against tinnitus, a condition of ringing in the ears.[17,18] To read more about the association between coffee and tinnitus, learn more here.

Studies have even shown that people who drink coffee may live longer; higher coffee intake is associated with reduced risk for mortality from all causes.[19] Findings suggest that four cups per day may provide the highest protection against mortality.[13]

What kind is best, and how much?

Not all coffee is created equal. Is coffee healthy even when you add heavy cream, sweeteners, or other additives? No. Try to drink your coffee as plain as you can tolerate, with little added sugars or fatty creamers. Studies also suggest that filtered coffee may have added benefit over boiled, steeped (as in French press), or other coffee preparations.[2,8] Filtered coffee is made by placing coffee grounds in a filter, pouring hot water through the grounds, and collecting the liquid as it drips through. Most traditional coffee makers use filters, as do some newer versions like the Keurig coffee maker.

The majority of studies on the health benefits of coffee show that somewhere around three to five cups per day is best. So keep on enjoying your morning, mid-morning, and afternoon cups of coffee without guilt. But keep in mind that coffee is a stimulant – if you feel reactions like restlessness, insomnia, headache, or other symptoms, you may need to adjust your intake. And be sure to avoid coffee in the later afternoon and evening so it won’t interfere with your sleep.


[1] J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;20 Suppl 1:S167-74.

[2] Curr Diabetes Rev. 2012 May;8(3):162-8.

[3] Diabetologia. 2014 Jul;57(7):1346-54.

[4] Nutrition. 2014 Jul-Aug;30(7-8):755-63.

[5] J Clin Diagn Res. 2015 Jan;9(1):BC01-3.

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Chelsea Clark is a writer with a passion for science, human biology, and natural health. She holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology with an emphasis in neuroscience from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. Her research on the relationship between chronic headache pain and daily stress levels has been presented at various regional, national, and international conferences. Chelsea’s interest in natural health has been fueled by her own personal experience with chronic medical issues. Her many profound experiences with natural health practitioners and remedies have motivated Chelsea to contribute to the world of natural health as a researcher and writer for Natural Health Advisory Institute.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.

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