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Bitter Kola (Garcinia kola): Uses, Side Effects

Bitter kola

Bitter Kola (also known as Garcinia kola) is a flowering plant specie that belongs to the Clusiaceae family. It thrives in the tropical rain forest region of West and Central Africa. It is found in countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Gabon, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ivory Coast.

Bitter kola is one plant where every part of it (that is; the seed, stem, nuts and bark of the plant) is useful for medical purposes. It is believed to have antimicrobial and antiparasitic properties.

The seeds are believed to treat issues like liver disorder, throat infections, cough, chest cold, bronchitis etc while the stems are used as chewing stick.

Uses of Bitter Kola

Different research works suggest that this plant has bioactive substance that makes it effective for treating several illnesses.

Treatment of cough

This is one of the most common ailment that bitter kola can treat. Different people have their different recipes of this medicine.

According to reviews, some people believe that chewing the peeled seed of bitter kola with a mentholated sweet can relief the symptoms of cough and eventually treat it with consistent using.

While some other people believe in grinding about 8 seeds of it and mixing it with honey before consuming it. Both recipes are said to have very positive effect on cough.

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Treatment of glaucoma

This is an eye defect condition. It occurs when there is increased pressure in the eyeball and it results in gradual loss of eye sight and possibly blindness if it is not properly treated.

Research done by Lagos State teaching hospital claims that eye drops containing about 0.5 percent of bitter kola extract has shown improvements in reducing pressure in the eye.

Therefore, it is recommended that bitter kola be consumed twice daily to help reduce pressure is the eye.

Relives sore throat

When the seed is chewed, it helps clear sore throat by boosting the production of mucus along the vocal tube lining, thereby softening the dry/sore throat.

Treats diabetes

Bitter kola is believed to be a very potent treatment for diabetes. It has the ability of reducing the blood sugar level, enhancing antioxidant system and obstructing peroxidation of lipids.

This treatment is recommended for early stages of diabetes, but seek a proper treatment if the issue is worse or you do not feel comfortable with this therapy.

Boost immune system

Bitter kola has high level of antioxidants which helps boost the immune system of the body and this makes the body strong enough to fight against bacteria and infections.

It is anti-malaria

The chemical components in bitter kola makes it effective for treating malaria. Before now, traditional doctors prescribed it to their patients for treatment of malaria and other ailments. But now, there are experimental backings to the effectiveness of this treatment.

Aside the seeds, the stems and bark of the plant is used to treat acute fever and inflammation of the respiratory track.

Neutralizing snake/scorpion poison

People that reside in rural or bushy areas encounter snakes often. It is important to always fumigate your surroundings to chase snakes, scorpions and other deadly animals away.

But in a situation where someone got bitten by a snake or stung by a scorpion, eating about 8 pieces of bitter kola quickly can neutralize the poison. Then further medical treatment may be required to ensure the person is completely treated.

Could treat osteoarthritis

This is a common form of arthritis where the joint cartilage degenerates, and this results to pain and stiffness in the joints. The parts of the body that suffers from this mostly are the hips, the knee and the thumb joints.

Studies carried out at Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria found that bitter kola is effective in relieving the symptoms of osteoarthritis. It significantly reduced inflammation and pain, and increase the movement in the joints of people with osteoarthritis.

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Improves lung function

Regular consumption of moderate amount of bitter kola help strengthen the tissues of the lungs and maintain a good respiratory track. It also helps treat chest cold.

Neutralizes food poison

The antibacterial nature of bitter kola makes it effective for neutralizing food poison that is caused by bacterial infection. The bark and seed of this plant helps detoxifies the body system. It is therefore advisable to chew bitter kola once there is suspicion of food poisoning.

Improves sexual performance

According to studies, bitter kola has the potential of improving sexual performance in people especially men. It is known to increase sperm count, libido, erection and ejaculation.

It is recommended that one or two pieces of the seed should be consumed at least 2 minutes before having sexual intercourse. That will help the man last longer in bed.

Side Effects of Bitter Kola

Effect on blood pressure

Consuming bitter kola simultaneously with alligator pepper can increase blood pressure. So try avoid eating the duo if you have an existing high blood pressure issue.

Effect on blood clotting

Excess consumption of this plant leads to slow rate of blood clotting. People with bleeding disorder are advised to avoid eating too much of bitter kola. Also, people with schedule surgery appointment should avoid it too as it may cause excess bleeding.

Effect on diabetes

This plant contains high level of caffeine and as such, consuming it could result to incorrect sugar level in people with diabetes. Also, the caffeine in the plant can cause lack of sleep and frequent urination when people eat too much of it.

Effect on diarrhea

Too much consumption of this plant can worsen diarrhea in people that are already suffering from it.

Effect on anxiety

People suffering from anxiety and stress-related issues should avoid eating much of this plant because it contains substances that can make the issue worse.

Effect on pregnancy

Bitter kola is considered unsafe for pregnant women due to it’s high level of caffeine. Caffeine has the ability of affecting the weight, metabolism, movement and sleeping pattern of a baby in the womb. It can also affect the blood pressure and heart rate of pregnant women. Worse off, it could lead to miscarriage. Therefore, pregnant women should avoid eating this plant.

Garcinia kola is one plant that have very potent effects. The negative sides of it occurs mainly when it is consumed in excess quantity.

In some parts of Nigeria, bitter kola is used as a sign of hospitality. It is also a compulsory item in traditional marriage.

Some people in Nigeria and other parts of Africa believe that eating and holding bitter kola can chase away evil spirit.

Whatever the beliefs of people, garcinia kola is plant with numerous health benefits to humans. However, ensure not to over consume it.


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