From the October 2000 Idaho Observer:

Coffee: pure poison to our digestive tract

by Ingri Harkins

People complain to me of a variety of health problems. Most of them are aggavated by their daily coffee habit. This has come up so much lately that I simply must share how important it is for all of you out there who still drink coffee to do yourselves a favor: Quit -- -- particularly when you are sick! Have you ever had heartburn, excess gas, bloating ulcers or just plain poor digestion of your food? If you answered “yes,” and drink excessive amounts of coffee, you owe it to yourself to continue reading.

¨The caffeine, oils and acids in coffee irritate the stomach lining, which can cause excessive production of hydrochloric acid leading to a variety of digestive ailments. Decaf, which contains the same oils and acids as regular coffee as well as traces of methylene chloride, brings on the same increase in stomach acid.

¨ Drinking coffee on an empty stomach produces an even greater increase in stomach acid, and can cause stomach pain almost immediately in some people.

¨ Research has shown a definite link between coffee drinking and ulcers. One study of 25,000 men showed that those who drink coffee have about a 72 percent higher risk of developing ulcers than those who don't.

¨ Coffee affects the lower esophageal sphincter which controls the opening between the stomach and the throat. When there is a change in the pressure of this esophageal sphincter, a reflux of stomach acid comes up into the throat causing “heartburn.” Some people already have an abnormality in this sphincter which coffee exacerbates.

¨ Coffee tends to slow down the passage of waste through the small intestine and speed it up in the large intestine.

It is not how much coffee you drink but how long you have been drinking it. If you have been drinking coffee for years, the chronic irritation of your stomach lining can lead to inflammation and pain -- even if you only drink one or two cups a day.

So you want to quit but want to avoid the withdrawals and impending headache? You may consider consulting with a naturopathic physician on this one. I used Wood Betony in capsules. Wood Betony is an herb that aids in dilating constricted blood vessels and was a great help for me when I went through a weekend of battling a caffeine headache.

As we age and have spent years eating cooked food along with poor food combining, our body's ability to produce hydrochloric acid and other digestive enzymes is greatly diminished. A lifesaver in restoring our ability to digest our foods is to make a “vinegar cocktail”. Take one teaspoon of raw, unprocessed honey and add to it 8 ounces of warm purified water. To this mixture add 1 to 2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar. Drink this 30 minutes before your meals. It is important to swish each mouthful thoroughly so that your saliva is well mixed with the vinegar solution before you swallow. It is best to use only organic vinegar and honey. This simple solution has helped thousands overcome the above mentioned digestive complaints.

It is also important to start your meal with a salad or some other raw food and chew it thoroughly. The enzymes in raw food will be of tremendous help in improving your digestion. Dr. Christopher told his patients to chew their liquids and drink their solids which simply means that everything we put in our mouths should be chewed thoroughly and mixed with saliva before swallowing. Did you know that there is one and a half pints of saliva available for digesting each and every meal? Our bodies are truly amazing and God has given us all the tools we need to heal ourselves if we simply take the time to ask for help, listen to the answers and apply what we learn to how we live our lives.

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