MILAN – Coffee and caffeine appear to have beneficial effects in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (CNS) that can lead to disability and chronic fatigue. Researchers at the University of Regensburg Hospital in Germany investigated how coffee consumption might help ease fatigue in people with MS.
Drinking coffee each day appears to help people with multiple sclerosis 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, the study reports.
In total, the opinions of 124 MS patients were explored with a questionnaire, which was developed to investigate the consumption behavior and associated beneficial and harmful effects of coffee and caffeine concerning symptoms of fatigue.
Their fatigue was assessed using the Fatigue Severity Score (FSS), which ranges from nine to 63, with higher scores indicating more severe fatigue, and the Epworth sleepiness scale (ESS). Questions also addressed problems with falling asleep and sleeping through the night, and whether patients felt fit and well rested in the morning.
Forty-six patients (median age, 49) were classified as having fatigue, while 78 others (median age, 45) were classified as ‘no fatigue.’ No significant differences in terms of age, sex, diagnosis (type of MS), or coffee consumption habits were found.
No significant differences were found between the daily coffee intake and EDSS scores or FSS values. However, researchers observed that coffee drinkers with milder to mid-level disability, as measured by EDSS scores between 0 and 4, reported better concentration and attention spans, and a more structured daily routine.
“It can be hypothesized that these patients are able to benefit from the effects of coffee consumption due to their still preserved cognitive reserves,” researchers wrote.
“Coffee consumption also carried no notable side effects. “In our cohort, no negative impact of coffee or caffeine consumption on sleep quality could be found and no serious side effects were observed,” they added.
“MS patients with an EDSS score higher than 0, but lower than 4, noted the strongest effect of coffee consumption on their cognitive abilities, mainly regarding a higher mental capacity and a more structured daily routine.”
“Since coffee showed no severe side effects and in the absence of an effective fatigue therapy, coffee consumption might be a therapeutic approach for selected patients with MS-related fatigue,” the team suggested.