The bitter kola is a tropical nut that goes by different names in parts of Africa but a general concept is the highly acclaimed medicinal value. It is found in Benin, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.
It goes by the biological name, Garcinia kola and is a species of flowering plant in the Clusiaceae or Guttiferae family.
In Nigeria, it is an important cultural symbol for many ethnic groups. It is given to guests at weddings, funerals, and naming ceremonies, and it is used in medicine. Ceremonial breaking of the kola nut is important for making people feel welcome in a village or gathering. It also has some spiritual importance to some traditional religion adherents.

The nut comes from the evergreen kola tree, which is found in the rainforests of Africa. Inside the tree’s star-shaped fruits are white shells, which contain the seeds or biter kola nuts. It is relatively large, being about the size of a chestnut. The kola nut has a real bitter taste but becomes sweeter, as it is chewed.

The bitter kola nut contains about 2 to 3 percent caffeine and 1 to 2 percent theobromine, both of which act as stimulants when consumed. Caffeine is the stimulant often found in coffee and cola soft drinks. Theobromine is also found in green tea and chocolate. It also contains micronutrients including potassium, magnesium and calcium.

In some African cultures, the kola nut is chewed during ceremonies and rituals. It is also used to freshen or sweeten breath.
The kola nut is also used as an additive in energy drinks and performance enhancers.

The bitter kola also freshens up the environment and repels harmful reptiles like snakes. Just drop the nuts around the compound or the powder and no harmful reptiles will dare.

The kola nut may be beneficial for certain health conditions. It helps to increase energy or improve health as it is used to flavor soft drinks or sodas and as a supplement. The bitter kola nut is reported to have some tremendous health benefits.
The nut is boiled to extract the kola or it can be ground into a powder. In some parts of the world, especially in Africa, the nut is used as a type of alternative medicine in the following ways:

Boost to metabolism: Kola nut products contain caffeine, which may give a person’s metabolism a boost.

Aid to digestion: Kola nut powder and extract may help digestion. They are thought to promote the production of gastric acid, which increases digestive enzyme effectiveness in the stomach.

Increase in circulation: The caffeine and theobromine in the kola nut may speed up the heart rate, which increases circulation.

Boost to energy levels: The kola nut naturally stimulates the central nervous system, which may increase alertness and boost energy levels.

Antibacterial benefits: One study reported in the Journal of Biosciences and Medicines indicates that the use of kola nut extract might stop the growth of harmful bacteria. Researchers have reported several health conditions that might be improved by consumption of the kola nut including:

Prostate cancer
Although extensive studies have not been conducted, early research indicates that certain compounds found in the kola nut may decrease the risk of prostate cancer. The research is still being debated, but it is thought that the phytoestrogens in kola nuts may kill cancer cells and stop tumors from growing.

Slow metabolism
People with a slow metabolism could benefit from using products that contain kola nut. Conditions that may affect a person’s metabolism include low testosterone, Graves’ disease, and Cushing syndrome.

The kola nut may be helpful for people who have migraine headaches. Migraines often affect the blood vessels in the head and caffeine has been used for headache pain.
The theobromine and caffeine contained in the kola nut may dilate or widen blood vessels in the brain, which might decrease migraine pain.

Although it may not be recommended as a treatment for respiratory conditions, kola nuts might be useful for people with certain breathing problems, such as asthma. The caffeine in kola nuts may act as a bronchodilator, which means it opens the airways to make breathing easier.

Whether taken in supplement form or chewed, kola nuts can have certain side effects. The risk of side effects may vary and increase, depending on how much of the nut is eaten. It is advised that people should speak to a doctor before taking any supplements, including those containing kola nut.
Possible side effects of the bitter kola include:

Increased blood pressure: Because the active ingredients in the kola nut are stimulant to the body, the nut can raise blood pressure. People who already have high blood pressure or are taking blood pressure medication should check with their doctor before using any product containing bitter kola nuts.

Problems sleeping: Using products containing kola nuts can lead to insomnia or problems falling or staying asleep. Those with sleep disorders may be advised to avoid stimulants that contain caffeine, including kola nuts.

Shakiness: Since kola nuts can affect the central nervous system, they can lead to shakiness, tremors, and anxiousness. People with anxiety may be especially prone to shakiness from kola nuts.

Nausea: Overeating kola nuts may lead to an upset stomach. Some people may also experience stomach pains because of the increased production of stomach acids, which kola nuts might cause.


1. Improves sexual impotence
Studies and practice have shown that when it comes to the improvement of sexual performance, especially among men, bitter kola is royalty. Bitter Kola has proven not to only increase sex drive, but it also improves the sexual performance of men who consume it. To make it more effective, it is advisable to chew the bitter kola for at least five minutes before intercourse.

2. Remedy for osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a common form of arthritis manifesting in the degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone which causes pain and stiffness, especially in the hip, knee, and thumb joints. According to medical experts, the causes of Osteoarthritis can include joint injury, obesity, and aging. However, researchers at Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria tested the effects of bitter kola against arthritis symptoms and the result concludes that bitter kola significantly reduced inflammation and pain. It also increased joint movement in patients that had osteoarthritis symptoms.

3. Combats STDs
Sexually transmitted diseases, have remained a nightmare to noble scientists who have been battling to bring lasting solution to the malaise. However, scientists have proved that the seed and leaf of bitter kola have antibacterial activity on clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi and Streptococcus pyrogens.

4. Improves the function of the lungs
The fibers and lung tissues are not only strengthened when bitter kola is consumed regularly in a considerate amount, it also stabilizes any other counter effect. In addition, it helps in the maintenance of good respiratory track as well as treating chest cold. This may solve the puzzle of some smokers that move along with bitter kola.

5. Improves immunity system
Bitter kola has a high amount of antioxidant. This high amount of antioxidants found in bitter kola does not only help fight bacteria and other illnesses, it also helps the body to increase its immunity levels to be able to fight diseases.

6. As anti-malaria agent
Studies have shown that chemical constituents in bitter kola have anti-malarial properties. This is why traditional healers have for many years prescribed bitter kola for the treatment of malaria infections. Additionally, the stem, bark, and seeds of bitter kola are used to treat acute fever, inflammation of the respiratory tract and throat infections.

7. Fights glaucoma
Glaucoma is described as a condition of increased pressure within the eyeball, causing a gradual loss of sight. Glaucoma could result in permanent blindness if left untreated. However, bitter kola has been found to be an amazing remedy for the eye.
According to a Lagos University Teaching Hospital journal, when bitter kola is eaten, at least twice a day, it could successfully reduce the eye pressure.

With the numerous health benefits, one is tempted to go all out eating the bitter cola or processing the leaves and bark for alternative medicine but don’t forget the caveat that has been placed. Consult a physician.

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