Overview of Bitter Kola Benefits & Their Side Effects

Right from ancient times, bitter kola also known as garcinia kola is used both in a traditional feast and in preparing herbal medicine.

Although little was known about the bitter kola benefits,  its continuous usage made our health scientists go into research and discover these amazing health benefits of the bitter kola nut.

Bitter Kola is an evergreen plant that grows in most African countries, including Nigeria. The kola nut is known by different names by the three major tribes in Nigeria.

For instance, the Hausas call it Miji-Goro; the Igbos call it akilu while the Yorubas call it orogbo.

All the parts of the tree starting from the barks, the leaves and the nuts have healing powers.

The health benefits of bitter kola are many, the seed is used as a remedy for cough, chest cold, and liver inflammation.

The powdered bark of the tree, the sap, and its latex are also used in treating diseases like malignant tumours or cancer, gonorrhoea, skin diseases and many more.

Nutritional composition of garcinia kola

Garcinia Kola contains the below listed phytonutrient

  • Carbohydrate = 70.31%
  • Ash = 4.17%
  • Crude fibre = 3.94%
  • Fat = 1.03%
  • Crude protein = 11.27%
  • Tannin = 0.347%
  • Sapoium = 0.680%
  • Phytic acid = 0.550%
  • Phenol = 0.163%
  • Trypsin inhibitor = 2.737 Tu/g
  • Sterol = 0.093%
  • Flavonoid = 2.130%
  • Alkanoid = 0.433%
  • Oxalate = 0.433%
  • Caffeine = 0.607%
  • Hydrogen cyanide = 1.347 mg/kg
  • Abundant vitamin C, calcium, iron, and potassium (2)

The health benefits of bitter kola

The health benefits of bitter kola are uncountable, this is because of their medicinal value.

The healing power of the fruit is because of flavonoid, phenol, vitamins, trypsin inhibitors and other phytonutrients in them.

Flavonoid has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It helps in breaking down glycogen in the liver and also in body detoxification.

Garcinia Kola also has anti-poison properties, the seed and the bark mostly used whenever food poisoning is suspected. Reports have also shown that bitter kola has the power to repel snakes and evil spirits. (3)

Bitter Kola and weight loss

Most often, I hear people ask  ‘what is bitter kola used for, can it help me lose weight?. Well, Garcinia Kola is a vital seed that many weight watchers never know can help them burn huge calories fast.

The seed contains caffeine which makes you feel less hungry for food throughout the day.

Chewing the fruit into an empty stomach first thing in the morning will make you feel less craving for food.

Hence, you burn fat by eating less food.

Secondly, caffeine also increases food metabolism, helping you lose extra kilos of weight with just a little exercise. (4)

Bitter kola and honey for cough

Using bitter kola and honey to treat both productive and non-productive coughs has been recommended by health experts.

According to research work published by the African Journal of Cellular Pathology, honey has both antibacterial and antiseptic properties which makes the combination perfect in treating ailments like cough, wound healing, chronic rhinosinusitis, sore throat, and many other diseases.

The diet has no side effects on the liver, however, a recommended dosage of one nut of Garcinia Kola along with 5 ml of honey be taken twice a day for a maximum of 14 days. (5)

Bitter Kola and blood pressure

Bitter kola plays a vital role in reducing blood pressure. According to a recent study on the effect of garcinia kola on blood pressure,
Wistar rats fed with feed containing 10 to 15% of garcinia kola showed a significant reduction in blood pressure when compared with the control.
However, a dosage of 0.5 – 3.0 mg/kg was recommended for optimum performance as overdosing on medication may be harmful to the system. (6)

The bitter kola side effects.

Just like an adage says that every sweet thing has an atom of bitterness, there are still some disadvantages of bitter kola which you may not know.

Excess consumption of the nut can affect sperm production and motility.  It can also stop ovulation and many other harmful side effects of the fruit.

The major cause of this effect is caffeine, which is present in the seed. Below are the side effects of eating too much bitter kola

The results showed a significant difference in the sperm count and motility of the treatment group and their respective control groups.
The female rats that were crossed with the treated male did not conceive even though there was a presence of vagina plug after the cross. However, the females that were crossed with control males became pregnant.
The results suggest that long-term consumption of bitter kola seeds may cause infertility. (8)