As I'm writing this, the world is reacting to the collective strain of handling the coronavirus. People are stocking up on everything Costco has to offer, toilet paper is sold out (and I happen to be personally out), and quarantines (self-imposed or otherwise) are popping up all over the world. The MLB, NBA, and NHL all have cancelled portions of their seasons. Universities across the US have cancelled school or gone fully online for the rest of the semester. The governor of Colorado just outlawed all events over 250 people, and we aren't the first state to do so.
All we can do is take care of ourselves and do what we can to stay healthy. Drink lots of water, sleep enough, eat well, stay lowkey, and spend time outdoors in nature. There's only so much we can do.
Thursday morning, while the DOW was plummeting, I was sitting at my favorite neighborhood coffee shop and wondering what we can do during this time of panic. Knowing that coffee has a ton of things in it that can help you live longer, I wondered if it has any properties that could make it antiviral.
Turns out, crazily enough, that it does. So I started a sale: 20% off of all of our coffee. It's a small gesture, but it's a way to keep something in the hands of people who might need it. Is it a cure? No, absolutely not. But maybe it'll help. And I don't know about you, but in times like this I'll take every advantage I can get.
So here's some of the research I've found that backs up the claim.
Both hot water extracts of coffee grinds and instant coffee solutions inhibited the multiplication of herpes simplex virus type 1, a representative enveloped DNA virus, when they were added to the culture medium of the virus-infected cells at a dose of one fifth the concentration suitable for drinking.
This is wild to me. Coronavirus is a different type of virus than herpes (we'll get to that in a second) but coffee actually slowed down the multiplication of the virus. So, if you've got cold sores, or accidentally drank from the same cup (or kissed!) someone who does, maybe it's a good idea to drink a ton of coffee for a while.
Later on in the abstract:
Caffeine, but not quinic acid and chlorogenic acid, inhibited the virus multiplication to some extent, but none of them showed the virucidal activity, suggesting that other component(s) in the coffee extracts must play a role in the observed antiviral activity.
This basically says that we don't know what it is exactly, but we know it's not any specific compound in the coffee.
And the last sentence:
In addition, the coffee extracts inhibited the multiplication of poliovirus, a non-enveloped RNA virus, but showed no virucidal effect on this virus.
This is what pertains to Coronavirus. Polio is a single-stranded, positive-sense RNA virus. The current strain of Coronavirus is also a single-stranded, positive-sense RNA virus.
What's that mean?
Well, it means that coffee might not kill the virus, but it might keep the virus from multiplying as fast. This could (remember, I'm no doctor and this is purely my speculation) mean that coffee can slow down the virus enough to give your immune response system enough time to fight it off - or at least help deal with symptoms.
In this one, they tested the anti-influenza properties of coffee and found similar affects.
Here, we fractionated the hydrophobic and hydrophilic components of coffee. The hydrophobic fraction directly inhibited both a seasonal influenza A/Puerto Rico/8/24(H1N1) virus and a neuraminidase-resistant influenza A/Yokohama/77/2008(H1N1) virus infection in a dose-dependent manner...
This tells me that coffee might also have an effect on the common flu. I won't bore you with the details, but the abstract goes on to explain that certain flavonols of the coffee seem to exhibit high levels of antivirus activity. Interestingly enough, there was no correlation between antioxidative activity and antiviral activity. Which implies that there's some compounds in coffee that are antioxidative (we knew that already), but that there are different compounds in coffee that are antiviral.
So, that research all put together tells me that we don't know for sure what it is that does it, but we do know that coffee seems to have antiviral properties.
Now, I haven't seen anyone test it directly against this strain of coronavirus. But seeing it directly impact herpes, the flu, and polio, I'm inclined to believe that it'll do something to help.
Again, I'm no doctor. But I'm sure as hell drinking all the coffee I can get my hands on for the next month.