Let’s start with a brief background about Bitter Kola: According to Wikipedia, Garcinia kola (bitter kola (a name sometimes also used for G. afzelii) is a species of flowering plant belonging to the Mangosteen genus Garcinia of the family Clusiaceae (a.k.a. Guttiferae). It is found in Benin, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Mali , Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.
The fruit, seeds (“bitter kola nuts”) and bark of the plant have been used for centuries in folk medicine to treat ailments from coughs to fever. According to a report from the Center For International Forestry Research, Garcinia kola trade is still important to the indigenous communities and villages in Nigeria and most of West and Central Africa.
Bitter cola also known as Garcinia Kola, is a plant found in Central and Western Africa that has long been valued for its medicinal properties. Although traditional African medicine uses all parts of the Bitter Kola plant, the seeds are mostly commonly eaten. Bitter kola seeds have a sharp, bitter flavor that eases into a slight sweetness as you chew, and they’re typically eaten raw
Scientific properties of Bitter Kola:
Scientific name: Garcinia kola, Higher classification: Saptrees, Rank: Species, Family: Clusiaceae, Kingdom: Plantae.
Some acclaimed health benefits of bitter kola include the following:
- Bitter kola accelerates the healing process from some infections: Bitter kola has been used over the years to fight infections from the common cold to hepatitis. A 2018 study showed that bitter kola can help combat coughs, bacterial infections, and viral infections. Eating bitter kola when an infection starts may help fight the infection and make you feel better more quickly;
- Bitter Kola helps against Inflammatory conditions: Bitter kola seeds have commonly been chewed on in Africa to fight against inflammatory conditions like arthritis. One 2008 study showed that patients with osteoarthritis in their knees showed significantly reduced inflammation when eating bitter kola compared to a placebo. The high levels of potassium in bitter kola may be a contributing factor in reducing inflammation. Researchers at Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria tested bitter kola on the symptoms of osteoarthritis, and concluded that bitter kola may significantly reduce the inflammation and pain associated with the condition. The plant also increased joint movement in patients;
- Bitter Kola protects against diabetes: Early studies suggest that a chemical called kolaviron, which is found in bitter kola, may protect against hypoglycemia in people with type 2 diabetes;
- The aphrodisiac credentials: Traditional medicine considers bitter kola to be an aphrodisiac;
- Bitter kola has antibacterial qualities: A study published in the Science Journal of Microbiology has shown that both the bitter kola seeds and leaves have antibacterial properties. Bitter kola was tested against Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcuspyogenes, Salmonella typhi and Escherichia coli, and the plant was able to inhibit these microorganisms. The antibacterial activity was found to be due to the presence of bioactive components in the extract such as tannin, and saponins;
- The nuts may improve the function of the lungs: Results from research conducted in conjunction with several Nigerian universities showed that bitter kola has a positive effect on the lungs and can improve ventilation levels. Extracts of the plant have also been studied in relation to asthma, and there is the suggestion that bitter kola may have some protective effects against the respiratory disorder;
- Bitter kola nut may improve the immune system: Bitter kola has a high concentration of antioxidants, which is a term for any compound that counteracts free radicals. While environmental stressors such as tobacco smoke, ultraviolet rays and air pollution cause free radical production, they are also produced by many normal processes in the body including exercise and our immune response. Free radicals damage DNA, cell membranes, and other parts of cells. So, as well as being essential assistance for important functions in the body, antioxidants also support the immune system. With a strong immune system, we are better able to fight disease and stay healthy;
- It may be an antimalarial agent: Bitter kola contains the antioxidant kolaviron, which according to research published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, shows positive results for antimalarial properties. Traditional healers have for many years prescribed bitter kola for the treatment of malaria infections, and now, scientific studies are starting to support their beliefs;
- Bitter kola may help to fight glaucoma: Glaucoma is a condition of increased pressure within the eyeball, causing a gradual loss of sight, and can result in permanent blindness if left untreated. A study in the Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology, showed that bitter kola is useful for reducing the pressure in the eye for newly diagnosed patients, and was as effective as more conventional treatments. It is important to note that you must follow professional medical advice and treatment if you have glaucoma, even if the condition is newly diagnosed.
I am sure you must be wondering where you can get Bitter Kola in the UAE? Luckily there is an app for that, Download Jump the Q app now and order bitter kola from any of the African stores on the app (Quality Hub African Food store and Better Bites African Food store).
Google play Store: https://bit.ly/3f3bDV2
App Store: https://apple.co/3saByxX
While the many health benefits of bitter kola may have you heading straight to buy a few seeds already, please always be careful when taking any dietary supplements. Always consult your doctor, and remember to continue to follow their advice on how to treat any condition you may have. Bitter kola does have properties that can support the treatment of many illnesses and the prevention of others, while no dietary supplement is a substitute for professional medical advice.
This article in part or whole is not intended in anyway or form to be a prescription of any sort for the consumption bitter kola whether for any of the potential benefits mentioned herein or not. This article is only intended as useful read for the sake of knowledge only and not as a prescription. We strongly recommend checking with a medical professional if you must rely on bitter kola as a remedy for any kind of ailment or simply consuming it to avail some of the benefits mentioned herein or for preventive purposes.
Article written by:
Aaron Nkombou Munga
Co-Founder and CEO of Jump The Q (the UAE’s fastest grocery delivery app)
Sources: The following sites/resources were utilized to come up with this write up.