A lot of people are used to drinking their cup of coffee in the morning, believing it makes them more awake. But scientists discovered that coffee changes many more metabolites in the blood than previously known.
A new study from Northwestern University found that coffee affects human metabolism in dozens of ways, including the human metabolism of steroids and the neurotransmitters typically linked to cannabis.
Metabolites are chemicals in the blood that change after we eat and drink or for a variety of other reasons.
According to the study, the neurotransmitters related to the endocannabinoid system—the same ones affected by cannabis—decreased after drinking four to eight cups of coffee in a single day. This is similar to what occurs after someone uses cannabis.
Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that deliver messages between nerve cells.
In the study, scientists applied advanced technology that enabled them to measure hundreds of metabolites in human blood samples from a coffee trial for the first time. The study generates new hypotheses about the link between coffee and health and new directions for the coffee business.
“These are entirely new pathways by which coffee might affect health. Now we want to delve deeper and study how these changes affect the body,” said lead author Marilyn Cornelis, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
“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,” she said. “It could be our bodies’ adaptation to try to get stress levels back to equilibrium.”