Drinking coffee each day appears to help people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and milder disability and fatigue, with this patient group reporting in a questionnaire that caffeine allowed them to better concentrate on tasks and broaden their attention spans, a study reports.
Its researchers suggest that “for selected patients” regular coffee consumption could be a way of easing MS-related fatigue.
The study “The Effect of Coffee and Caffeine Consumption on Patients with Multiple Sclerosis-Related Fatigue” was published in the journal Nutrients.
Fatigue is a common symptom of MS, affecting over 70% of people with the disease. This symptom is not that of feeling tired but, according to a 2008 study, is defined as an extreme exhaustion that occurs suddenly or can be triggered by factors like activity, stress, infections, or digestion.
A previous study reported that 14% of MS patients perceived fatigue as their worst symptom, and 55% considered it among the symptoms that most affect them.
Despite its negative effect on patients’ lives, there is no clear therapeutic recommendations to tackle fatigue in MS. Non-drug therapies and healthy lifestyle have become important alternatives in fatigue prevention. Simple approaches like drinking coffee might also have a positive effect.
Coffee is composed of more than 1,000 ingredients, including caffeine, its most studied one. Caffeine is well known for stimulating the central nervous system (CNS, brain and spinal cord) and promoting short-term improvement in attention. It is also described to have a positive impact on cognition and memory.
Due to its structure, caffeine can cross the blood-brain barrier — a highly selective membrane that shields the CNS from circulating blood — and can lower the effect of adenosine, a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect. (Neurotransmitters are substances produced in response to nerve signals that act as chemical messengers.)
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