Gene Therapy with Coffee and Tea

Dr. Gina Honeyman-Lowe & Dr. John C. Lowe
April 24, 2006

Late this year, I (JCL) reread Dr. Majid Aliís book The Canary and Chronic Fatigue.[1] I had forgotten his emphasis on how, through the decades, weíve turned our world into a powerful oxidizing container. Oxidation is a chemical process in which oxygen combines with a substance, changing the substance in some way. Oxidation causes some metals to rust, causes white wine to darken and lose its freshness, and damages cell membranes and ages skin.

Dr. Aliís main hypothesis in the book is that excess oxidation is a major cause of health problems such as chronic fatigue. Since he wrote the book, many studies have vindicated his hypothesis. The published research literature is massive. Itís so vast that rather than citing references here, we encourage our readers to go to PubMed and search for key terms such as "oxidation," "oxidative stress," "chronic fatigue," and "disease."

The Bush administration has rolled back many regulations that had improved the quality of our environment. The regulations had reduced oxidative damage. By unleashing industry to pollute as it hadnít in decades, the administration has vastly worsened the potential oxidative damage to us all. Itís good for business, as George W. Bush often says. But, as Dr. Ali noted, itís dreadfully bad for our health.

I (GH-L) often point out that unless people with a sustainability consciousness come to set and implement environmental policies, our environment isnít going to be cleaned up. Even if we made a turn about today, it would take time for the earth to heal. We have to adapt to the current level of pollution and find ways to be healthy in spite of them. The chemical contaminants that saturate us all are going to continue to do so, and the oxidizing power of our environment is most likely going to worsen.

Adapting to a highly oxidizing environment means augmenting our ability to counter the oxidationóthat is, building our antioxidant power. One way we can do this is to drink organic tea and coffee every day.

Trevisanato and Kim described the health benefits of tea after reviewing the research literature: "Tea contains biologically active compounds that help prevent a wide variety of diseases. A growing body of evidence suggests that moderate consumption of tea may protect against several forms of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, the formation of kidney stones, bacterial infections, and dental cavities."[2]

Tea contains many beneficial chemical compounds, including vitamins and fluoride (although we should avoid excess fluoride). Tea is the richest source of a class of antioxidants called "flavonoids," and green and black teas contain large amounts of other powerful antioxidants called "catechins" and "polyphenols."[2][3]

Plant polyphenols are potent antioxidant compounds. Some researchers consider them the main agents in fruits, vegetables, and red wines that protect us from oxidative stress.[9] Regularly eating plant foods and drinking beverages laden with polyphenols is actually a form of gene therapy. Polyphenols increase the activity of the gene that codes for "glutathione." Glutathione is the bodyís most widespread and powerful antioxidant. By drinking green or black tea often enough, we increase gene transcription for glutathione. Our cells then use that transcribed genetic code to increase our cellsí production of glutathione. The increased glutathione in our cells then protects us from harmful oxidation.

Tea isn't the only beverage that contains large amounts of polyphenols. Elderberry juice contains huge amounts.[4] This may be why elderberry extract, which we always keep on hand, is so effective in short circuiting viral infections. Both red wines and prunes contain large amounts of polyphenols. Other fruit and vegetable juices contain considerable but less amounts. And dark and lager beers and white wines contain even less.[4]

Polyphenols in coffee markedly increase our antioxidant capacity.[5] The Agriculture Department writes that the typical adult American drinks 1.64 cups of coffee each day. As a chemist, Dr. Joe Vinson, calculated, this amount of coffee provides a huge load of antioxidants compared to other beverages. To illustrate, an equivalent amount of tea provided 294 milligrams of antioxidants, while the coffee provided 1,299 milligrams.[6]

Organic coffee and tea are a daily part of our health regimen, and we encourage others to consider including them in theirs. If you donít do well on caffeine, you can take in large amounts of polyphenols through decaffeinated coffee and tea. Decaffeinating beverages doesnít remove these powerful health protectors.[7][8]


1. Ali, M. The Canary and Chronic Fatigue. Denville, Life Span Press, 1995.

2. Trevisanato, S.I. and Kim YI.: Tea and health. Nutr. Rev., 58(1):1-10, 2000.

3. Yang, C.S.: Tea and health. Nutrition, 15(11-12):946-949, 1999.

4. Lugasi, A. and Hovari, J.: Antioxidant properties of commercial alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. Nahrung, 47(2):79-86, 2003.

5. Natella, F., Nardini, M., Giannetti, I., et al.: Coffee drinking influences plasma antioxidant capacity in humans. J. Agric. Food Chem., 50(21):6211-6216, 2002.

6. No author. Coffee Said Top Source of Healthy Antioxidants. Wires. Sunday, Aug. 28, 2005.

7. Stich,. H.F., Rosin, M.P., and Bryson, L.: Inhibition of mutagenicity of a model nitrosation reaction by naturally occurring phenolics, coffee and tea. Mutat. Res., 95(2-3):119-128, 1982.

8. Johnston, K.L., Clifford, M.N., and Morgan, L.M.: Coffee acutely modifies gastrointestinal hormone secretion and glucose tolerance in humans: glycemic effects of chlorogenic acid and caffeine. Am. J. Clin. Nutr., 78(4):728-733, 2003.

9. Urquiaga, I. and Leighton, F.: Plant polyphenol antioxidants and oxidative stress. Biol. Res., 33(2):55-64, 2000.