For many people, drinking coffee helps them stay awake and regain concentration at a time of fatigue or drowsiness.

As Professor Carlo Selmi, Head of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology in Humanitas, explains to us, the merit is caffeine, a natural substance present in coffee, tea and cocoa, capable of stimulating the central nervous system.


The action of caffeine

Caffeine also acts on the immune system, acting as an immunomodulator, modulating the innate and acquired immune response with effects that are still difficult to define, but are probably anti-inflammatory. According to a review published in 2006 in Pharmacology & Therapeutics by the National University of Ireland, caffeine would suppress the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as Tnf-alpha, but also that of antibodies, potentially having a positive effect in patients with chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis or psoriasis.

According to some studies, espresso coffee may protect from the risk of developing gout, and its consumption has in fact been associated with a reduction in uric acid levels. Hyperuricemia is the necessary cause of arthritis in gout.


Why not to exaggerate

Excessive consumption of caffeine would not only cause effects on heart rhythm and blood pressure, but also an increase in cortisol levels, the so-called stress hormone, which could contribute to a depressive effect on lymphocyte activity, the cells involved in acquired immune function.