Health benefits of Bitter Kola, common uses and risks

Bitter kola, often known as scientifically as Garcinia kola, is a flowering plant found mostly in the tropical rain forest region of Central and West Africa. Although all parts of the Bitter Kola plant are used for traditional African medicine, the seeds are most commonly eaten raw as they act as a general anti-infective agent. Bitter kola seeds have a sharp, bitter flavor that becomes slightly sweet as you chew.

Bitter Kola is used in traditional African medicine for the treatment of various infectious diseases, such as hepatitis, infections due to the influenza virus, and other viral diseases.

Did you know that some of the first recipes for Coca-Cola were made from the extract of the bitter kola plant? It is believed that Coca-Cola got its name from the African plant-the name remains a reminder of the unusual plant that inspired the iconic drink. It is also used as a recipe for Pepsi & many energy drinks; this is because of its rich caffeine content.

A 2013 study found that bitter kola was also high in Carbohydrates, Fat, Protein, Vitamin C, Calcium, Potassium and, Iron.

Health Benefits of Bitter Kola

Bitter Kola
Bitter Kola

Several health conditions might be improved by the consumption of the bitter kola and its products. They include the following:

Boost to energy levels

The bitter kola naturally stimulates the central nervous system, which may increase alertness and boost energy levels.

Aid to digestion

Bitter kola 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 bitter kola may speed up the heart rate, which increases circulation.

Boost to metabolism

Bitter Kola products contain caffeine, which may give a person’s metabolism a boost.

Antibacterial benefits

One study reported that the use of bitter kola extract might stop the growth of harmful bacteria.


Bitter kola seeds have commonly been chewed on in Africa to fight against inflammatory conditions like arthritis, due to the high level of potassium in them. One 2008 study showed that patients with osteoarthritis in their knees showed significantly reduced inflammation when eating bitter kola compared to a placebo. 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. Although this first study was done on rats and has not yet been reproduced on humans, these early findings are promising.

Prostate cancer

Although extensive studies have not been conducted, early research indicates that certain compounds found in the kola may decrease the risk of prostate cancer. It is thought that the phytoestrogens in bitter kola may kill cancer cells and stop tumors from growing.

Uses of Bitter Kola

Bitter Kola being used for a remedy

The Bitter Kola is a very common seed in Nigeria and is used for many purposes, some of which are:

  1. Bitter kola is eaten locally as a drug to cure respiratory infections such as cough, asthma, etc.
  2. Bitter Kola extract is used as an ingredient to make coffee drinks & energy drinks. This is because of its rich caffeine content.
  3. Bitter Kola is an important cultural symbol for many ethnic groups in Nigeria. It is given to guests at weddings, funerals, and naming ceremonies. Ceremonial breaking of the kola nut symbolizes acceptance in many tribes, which means people are welcome in a village or gathering.
  4. Bitter Kola is also used in form of an extract or powder to produce performance enhancers especially in Men with low libido.

Risks of using the Bitter Kola

Man experiencing weakness and shakiness

The risk of side effects may vary, depending on how much of the nut is eaten and the body composition of the person using it. Many of the side effects of the bitter kola are associated with the caffeine contents in it. Possible side effects of the kola nut include:

Problems sleeping

Since bitter kola contains caffeine, which is a sleep repellent. Therefore, consuming it can lead to insomnia or problems falling or staying asleep. Those with sleep disorders may be advised to avoid using it.


Bitter kola can affect the central nervous system, which can lead to shakiness, tremors, and anxiousness.

Increased blood pressure

The active ingredients in the bitter kola are stimulants to the body, hence, they 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.


Overeating bitter kola may lead to an upset stomach. Some people may also experience stomach pains because of the increased production of stomach acids, which bitter kola causes.

Slows Blood Clotting

Bitter Kola prevents the blood from clotting. It shouldn’t be taken when injured or after surgeries.

Bitter Kola may be a helpful natural remedy in many ways as seen in the article. However, as they contain substances that act as stimulants on the body, bitter kola may not be appropriate for everyone. People should keep in mind that it is always best to speak to a doctor before taking any supplements, including those bitter kola

Leave a comment