According to a new study to be published in the 25 June 2008 edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, you may only need to smell the rich aroma of coffee to send a wake up call to the brain rather than drink it.
In the report, an international group of scientists have come up with some of the first evidence that merely inhaling the aroma of coffee is enough to alter the activity of genes in the brain. In the experiments, which were carried out with laboratory rats, the scientists found that coffee aroma orchestrates the expression of more than a dozen genes and some changes in protein expressions, in ways that help reduce the stress of sleep deprivation.
According to Han-Seok Seo and colleagues, there have been numerous studies carried out into the beneficial health benefits of the ingredients in coffee, but very little research into the aromatic benefits.
“There are few studies that deal with the beneficial effects of coffee aroma,” they note. “This study is the first effort to elucidate the effects of coffee bean aroma on the sleep deprivation-induced stress in the rat brain.”
In an effort to begin filling that gap, they allowed lab rats to inhale coffee aroma, including some rats stressed by sleep deprivation. The study then compared gene and protein expressions in the rats’ brains. Rats that sniffed coffee showed different levels of activity in seventeen genes. Thirteen of the genes showed differential mRNA expression between the stress group and the stress with coffee group, including proteins with healthful antioxidant activity known to protect nerve cells from stress-related damage.
Source - American Chemical Society