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Bitter Kola: Health Benefits, Side Effects, and Warnings

Bitter kola, also known scientifically as Garcinia kola, is a tiny, green tropical fruit. It is widely used in traditional African, Caribbean, and Pacific Islander cuisines. Bitter kola has been utilized for ages for its therapeutic benefits and is being used today.

Bitter kola has several health benefits, which is why it is such a significant element of many people’s diets. Local names for this fruit include orogbo in Yoruba, aki-inu in Ukwani, ugolu in Igbo, and mijin-goro in Hausa.

If you’re not sure what bitter kola is or want to learn more about this great fruit before including it in your diet, you’ve come to the right place.

What is Bitter Kola?

Garcinia kola is a tropical tree native to West Africa and South America, as well as the Caribbean and several Pacific Islands. It has a bright green outer covering that protects a dark brown inner seed.

The tannin inside the seed gives the seed its darker color, and it is used to produce kola, a drink.

Bitter Kola contains a lot of caffeine, but it’s not the same as drinking coffee. It not only has less caffeine than coffee, but it also has a totally different chemical called cholinesterase.

This chemical aids in the breakdown of caffeine in your body, preventing the jittery feeling that many individuals experience after drinking coffee.

Method of Eating Bitter Kola


Bitter kola can be consumed in a variety of ways. It can be consumed raw, dried, roasted, brewed as tea, or powdered. Bitter kola can also be found in a variety of cuisines, including sweets. Bitter kola is frequently used to season otherwise bland and flavorless meals.

1. As a Snack

Bitter kola is an excellent snack that can aid with weight loss. You can consume the outer skin of a fresh bitter kola nut by simply peeling it off.

2. As a dried fruit

Bitter kola can be eaten as a dry fruit after soaking in warm water for a few hours. Remove the skin and eat when it is soft enough.

3. As a Tea

Tea can also be made from bitter kola. To brew tea, you can add either dried or fresh fruit. If you use the dried fruit, you should let it rest in hot water for roughly 20 minutes before consuming it.

Nutritional Composition of Bitter Kola

The bitter kola seed’s principal nutrients include moisture, crude lipids, crude fiber, protein, and nitrogen-free extracts (or carbohydrates). The increased moisture content aids in the preservation of the kernel. Peeling the seed before chewing it removes the shell material.

Bitter kola health advantages can also be ascribed to its mineral content, particularly potassium and phosphorus. Vitamin C has also been shown to have a high value.

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Other minerals present in moderate amounts include magnesium, calcium, and zinc.

The main phytochemicals in the seed are flavonoids, although there are also significant levels of saponins, tannins, glycosides, and alkaloids.

Health Benefits of Bitter Kola


Bitter kola has numerous benefits and they are listed below

1. Antioxidant:

Bitter kola’s flavonoid concentration contains natural antioxidants that protect the central nervous system from oxidative stress. They aid in the elimination of free radicals from the body by converting them to inert waste. They also aid to improve the immune system.

2. Slow metabolic rate:

Kola nut products may be beneficial to people who have a slow metabolism.

Low testosterone, Graves’ illness, and Cushing’s syndrome are all conditions that can influence a person’s metabolism.

3. GIT problems:

Tannins in bitter kola act as an astringent. It is beneficial in the treatment of diarrhoea and dysentery.

4. Aphrodisiac:

Chewing the seed is thought to boost desire and sexual performance in men.

5. Migraines:

Migraines frequently impact the blood vessels in the head, and coffee has traditionally been used to relieve headache discomfort.

Kola nut theobromine and caffeine may expand or enlarge blood vessels in the brain, thereby alleviating migraine discomfort.

6. Asthma:

Although it is not suggested as a treatment for respiratory diseases, kola nuts may be beneficial to persons who suffer from breathing issues such as asthma.

Kola nut caffeine may function as a bronchodilator, which means it expands the airways and makes breathing easier.

7. Antibacterial activity:

According to one study published in the Journal of Biosciences and Medicines, the consumption of kola nut extract may inhibit the growth of dangerous microorganisms.

Benzophenones found in bitter kola, such as kolanone, and flavonones have been demonstrated to inhibit both gram-positive and gram-negative microbes.

8. Infection of the lungs:

The seed is used in herbal remedies to alleviate coughs, asthma, and other chest pains.

9. Snake repellent:

To frighten off hazardous reptiles.

10. Cancer of the prostate:

Although substantial research has not been undertaken, preliminary findings suggest that some chemicals present in the kola nut may reduce the incidence of prostate cancer.

The research is still being contested, but phytoestrogens found in kola nuts are supposed to kill cancer cells and prevent tumor growth.

Side Effects of Bitter Kola


As many as the health benefits of bitter kola are, it also has some unfavourable side effects.

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The danger of side effects varies and increases with the amount of nut consumed. The kola nut may cause the following adverse effects:

1. Blood pressure elevation:

Kola nuts can elevate blood pressure because the active compounds in them are stimulants to the body. People who already have high blood pressure or are on blood pressure medication should consult their doctor before using any kola nut product.

2. Sleeping difficulties:

Kola nut products can cause insomnia or difficulty sleeping or staying asleep. Those suffering from sleep difficulties should avoid caffeine-containing stimulants such as kola nuts.

3. Shakiness:

Kola nuts can cause shakiness, tremors, and anxiety because they impact the central nervous system. Kola nuts may cause shakiness in people who suffer from anxiety.

4. Nausea:

Kola nuts can cause stomach distress if consumed in excess. Some people may also have stomach discomfort as a result of the increased production of stomach acids caused by kola nuts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is bitter kola safe to consume during pregnancy?

Bitter kola is beneficial to ladies, including pregnant women. Large doses are not beneficial for the uterus in women and should be avoided. The seed can aid with morning sickness and vomiting during pregnancy.

What role does bitter kola play in a man’s life?

Bitter kola is extremely beneficial for improving sexual performance, particularly in men. Bitter Kola not only boosts sex drive but also increases sexual performance in males who drink it.

Is it safe to consume bitter kola on a daily basis?

It is suggested that a person consume two bitter kola nuts every day. This dose of bitter kola is sufficient to replenish your energy and boost your health.


Kola nuts may be an effective natural cure for a variety of common ailments. Kola nuts, on the other hand, may not be suitable for everyone because they contain chemicals that act as stimulants in the body.

If kola nut products are designed to address medical concerns, people should consult their doctor before taking them. Kola nuts may interfere with some drugs and thus should be avoided.

It is usually a good idea to see a doctor before taking any supplements, even ones containing kolanuts.

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