Friday, December 14, 2012

Coffeedy Conjectures: Coffee ameliorates knee pain?

Hunting for cheap health options ...

Coffee has anti-inflammatory properties, independent of caffeine. Some people are sensitive to caffeine, and their bodies falsify most coffeedy conjectures in their n=1 self-experiments (these results should be heeded wisely). However, for those who can tolerate it, coffee has the potential to help ameliorate knee pain (joint pain, generally, in addition to supplying other physiological benefits).

My self-experiment: About a year ago, I made an agreement with a friend; the friend agreed to abstain from sugar, and I agreed to abstain from caffeine (which meant no coffee and no tea for me since these were the two ways I consumed this molecule). Slowly, over the ten month period that I did not drink coffee, my knees started aching, including sharp/shooting pain at times, for the first time in my life. At first, I chalked it up to getting older and to accumulating 'wear and tear' on my body (I workout and play sports quite intensely frequently, as I have done for my entire life). However, when I resumed coffee intake last month, my knee pain essentially went away spontaneously, right away.

This led me to investigate the literature briefly for potential mechanisms behind this experience. From these inquiries, one Coffeedy Conjecture emerged:

Coffee reduces serum concentration of IL-18; and, IL-18 is an inflammatory cytokine implicated in joint inflammation--ergo, coffee ameliorates knee pain by reducing joint inflammation via anti-IL-18 activity.

Interleukin 18 (IL-18) is a cytokine--a molecule involved in cell-to-cell signaling--that is part of the IL-1 family of inflammatory cytokines. In Germany, an orthopaedic surgeon has gained fame by injecting a compound in the knees of famous athletes, such as Kobe Bryant, and others, including the Pope, to relieve their knee pains. This compound supposedly works by inhibiting the actions of the IL-1 family of cytokines involved in the inflammation cascade process, thus providing an anti-inflammatory intervention in the knee joint.

Perhaps, coffee, as a cheap health option, can provide some knee pain relief through a mechanism similar to the one at work in these injections? Or, it could work through another pathway. Either way, it's interesting to see the potential homoplasy between these two interventions.

Of course, coffee has various other systemic effects (thx2DL), so if you can't make it to Germany for an injection (or, more likely, if you can't afford it), perhaps you could test this simple Coffeedy Conjecture on your own body through a n=1 clinical trial and see what happens, keeping an observant eye out for any negative results that might falsify this conjecture for your unique physiology.

To good health,



  1. Nice one Brent!
    Did your friend stay of sugar as long as you did caffeine and if so, any eye openers for him?

    Other studies I glimpsed show clear connections between caffeine's anti inflammatory properties and how they relate to Alzheimer's and dementia.

    As so often...the dose makes the poison.
    The paradox of coffee....drink it responsibly and reap the benefits, drink to much and suffer its unwanted effects.

    Glad to be reading your musings again amigo.


  2. Thanks, Marc!

    Before the agreement / experiment, my friend did not perceive sugar as "addictive"; however, a few weeks into the experiment, my friend experienced the addictive power of sugar first hand. I was really impressed by my friend's resilience and diligence! After ten months of sugar abstinence, my friend enjoyed improved health, a leaner body mass, and cemented a personal realization that avoiding sugar toxicity is quite beneficial.

    I like your "Paradox of Coffee" statement; that's a nice Coffeedy Conjecture to live by.

    Glad to be musing again; it's nice to be able to write a bit again.

    I hope all is well for you! Happy Holidays to you and your family.