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Coffee Beans May Be Newest Stress-Buster
Date:6/13/2008

Just inhaling the aroma activated anxiety-relieving genes, rat research shows

FRIDAY, June 13 (HealthDay News) -- Just sniffing that first hot cup of coffee in the morning may help ease some stresses you might be feeling, a South Korean trial indicates.

When rats inhaled the aroma of roasted coffee beans, a number of genes were activated, including some that produce proteins with healthful antioxidant activity, the researchers reported.

"The meaning of it is not totally clear yet," said Dr. Peter R. Martin, director of the Institute of Coffee Studies at Vanderbilt University. "What it does show is that coffee smells do change the brain to some degree, and it behooves us to understand why that is happening."

The findings, from a team led by Han-Seok Seo at Seoul National University in South Korea, were expected to be published in the June 25 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The experiment was done with laboratory rats, some of whom were stressed by being deprived of sleep. The researchers did detailed genetic studies that showed the activity of 11 genes was increased and the activity of two genes was decreased in the rats that smelled the coffee, compared to those who did not. In effect, the aroma of the coffee beans helped ease the stress of the sleep-deprived rodents.

The experiment provides "for the first time, clues to the potential antioxidant or stress-relaxation activities of the coffee bean aroma," the researchers wrote.

And they added, "These results indirectly explain why so many people use coffee for staying up all night, although the volatile compounds of coffee beans are not fully consistent with those of the coffee extracts. In other words, the stress caused by sleep loss via caffeine may be alleviated through smelling the coffee aroma."

"They used the latest in technology to see how brain expression of RNA changed," Martin said.
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