Coffee Not for Colds or Flu?

Written by Lori Thiessen

I’m sick.

I’m home in bed feeling crappy, but well enough to bang out a post. My husband’s been sick too and the first thing we generally do is make a cup of tea when we start to feel poorly.

I’ve noticed that coffee is never mentioned in the same breath as chicken soup or the traditional, nice hot cup of tea when offering homemade cold remedies. Why is that?

In “A Cup of Coffee A Day Keeps the Doctor Away?” I wrote that coffee was actually good for certain ailments like preventing Type II Diabetes and some cancers.

But I’ve also read that caffeine can lower your immune system’s defenses and may make you more susceptible to flu’s and colds.

Like most medical advice, it’s mixed.

My dad split the difference and had one cup of coffee with his breakfast and one cup of tea with his dinner. He had water or a cup of juice with lunch. He rarely had colds or flu, but I don’t know if that is more to do with his staying moderate and regimented with his eating habits or the hot bevvies.

Personally, I think when you are sick, your system can’t take something as strong as coffee. A weak cup of herbal tea is just about right for a person in the throes of fighting the flu.

Of course, there are any number of plants, herbs, and bark that can be made into a tea. Coffee is made from coffee beans or chicory if you want non-coffee bean coffee.

For now, I’ll stick to tea until I’m better, then I’ll start up with coffee again.

Q: Do you ever drink coffee when you aren’t well?

Until Next Time,

May Your Coffee Always Be Freshly Brewed!


12 responses to “Coffee Not for Colds or Flu?

  1. My husband loves coffee too. The problem is it’s a diuretic and it’s probably not the best thing to be taking when you’re sick because you don’t want to get dehyrated. I’ve got some info on colds if you’re interested, so when the next one hits, at least you’ll be prepared. Hope you feel better!

    • Hi Geri!

      Thanks for reading my blog! I’m feeling much better now. It was a really nasty virus. Hope that you and your husband have remained flu free and will remain well until well after the holiday season.

      What kind of coffee does your husband like to drink?


  2. I am sick right before the holiday season! I don’t know what to do really…I feel awful, and just got tired of being tired and sleeping in my bed. So I got up, looking for solutions of my illness…or just some good or bad things to do when I’m sick. Anyways, I feel ya.

    The FLU SUCKS *lol*

    • Hi Ryan!

      I’m so sorry to hear you’re down with the flu! That’s terrible. Have you been to see your doctor? Like everybody else, I’ve got a few remedies handed down through the family. Some of them are pretty simple like lots of fluids and keep warm. My hubby and I make a lemon drink when we have a head cold. The recipe: fresh lemon, fresh ginger, a little bit of honey and hot water. You grate the ginger into the drink. The ginger will be strong but man, oh, man does it help to clear stuff out!

      Thanks for your sympathy and right back atcha, my friend! Wellness soon!!

  3. I was checking for a particular view of coffee culture and came upon your sight. I have recently been ill with a viral infection (H1N1? – maybe) and the only good antidote to my nighttime coughing fits was a strong cup of coffee. This was of course preceded by a dinner of chicken soup and kreplach!

    • Hi Eric!

      I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been ill. It’s interesting that you’ve found a strong cup of coffee was the best way to calm your nighttime coughs. I guess it’s a toss up whether you are kept up by a jolt of caffeine or coughing, either way sleep likely isn’t going to be peaceful for you.

      My sister’s father-in-law was pestered by a persistent coffee for months, it was especially bothersome at night. He found that sipping rye was good way to calm his coughing. Thankfully, the cough finally went away.

      I hope that you are feeling better very soon and thanks so much for writing in.


  4. I love coffee, it will temporarly make me feel better when I have a cold but worse in the long run. It probably depends on the person. Without question, getting plenty of water if you’re drinking coffee and have a cold is essential. Keeping yourself hydrated is essential for helping your body while it fights off the cold and tries to clear it from the body (via mucus).

    • Hi John!

      Thanks for your comments. Considering how much coffee many people drink, I imagine when they are hit with the flu or cold it must be hard to give up that daily dose, or not. As you say, it depends on the person.

      I still think water or weak herbal tea are the best for flu and cold. Too much fruit juice can send your blood sugar rocketing which isn’t a good thing. And for those of you who are diabetic, a friend of mind didn’t read her cold formula label and fainted at work. The label clearly said not to be taken by diabetics.

      So be careful, dear readers, when choosing your weapons to battle the flu. It’s more serious than you think.


  5. I’m not a huge coffee drinker; I only started drinking coffee most mornings about six months ago; and i feel much better for it. I’ve definitely got more energy, before that i was constantly taking naps during the day [actually that was the symptoms of diabetes, but still] I’m sick with the flu at the moment and i’m pretty hesitant to drink my regular cup of acai berry coffee with my breakfast so i’ve switched to tea [peppermint tea, strawberry tea, green tea, lemon and honey tea…etc. herbal teas all the way] The myth is that caffeine is the culprit that you should stay away from while you’re sick, but what about switching to decaf while you have the flu? I’m thinking of trying it. What harm can it do?

  6. If you need to be alert, the National Institutes of Heath – the be all and end all of research in the United States – says that caffeine will help bring your psychomotor skills back up to normal level when you have a cold. As for dehydration, just drink more water or 100% coconut water.

    “These results suggest that drugs which increase alertness can remove the malaise associated with the common cold, and that increased stimulation of the sensory afferent nerves may also be beneficial.”

  7. Amazing that I’m not the only one with this question…I bow down to the Internet! I’m a serious coffee drinker, consuming 2-4 triple espresso macchiatos daily. Over the decades, I’ve noticed that I completely lose my taste for coffee (and alcohol) when I’m sick; the few times I’ve consumed coffee when I was sick, I generally felt worse. I’ve asked a few internists about it and they just looked at me blankly…had never considered it, and weren’t inclined to. I’m wondering if it’s because it’s acidic and, when you’re sick, maybe the body doesn’t like acids? On the other hand, orange juice tastes great when I’m sick and it’s acidic…so what’s the deal?

  8. I started drinking coffee daily along with eating an apple and I never get sick anymore. If you google Japanese research on coffee killing viruses, you will see that coffee has an effect on viruses. The incubation period for viruses is as short as one day so this must be done daily. You have to do both things as I found one or the other is not enough to prevent getting sick. This is only good for viruses as you can still get a bacterial infection (like a sinus infection for example).

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