Bitter kola benefits and disadvantages: what does it do to the body?

Bitter kola benefits and disadvantages: what does it do to the body?

A garcinia kola, better known as bitter kola, is a plant in West and Central Africa. The plant used to be an essential component of the early blends of Coca-Cola, which explains the similar name. However, the current formula of the drink has nothing to do with bitter kola. This has not stopped the plant from being used for a range of other functions. As a result, many people have sought to know bitter kola advantages and disadvantages to the body.

Bitter kola benefits and disadvantages
Photo: (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Africa is known for its abundant vegetation cover, which supplies food, firewood, herbs and timber, among many other things. Bitter Kola has been one of the most treasured trees for centuries because of its medicinal value. By the mention of its name, one can tell that it has a bitter taste, but those who know its benefits do not mind the taste.

Benefits of bitter kola nut

The usefulness of bitter kola is what has made the African plant popular all over the world. There are numerous benefits of the plant ranging from medicinal and recreational to financial. The most prominent of these benefits include:

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1. Fights glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition caused by increased pressure on the eyeball resulting in the eventual loss of sight and permanent blindness if treatment is not conducted early. In this case, bitter kola functions by reducing the pressure in the eyes of patients.

Its efficacy is the same as that of the more conventional treatments, which is why bitter kola uses are rising. That said, patients with glaucoma must seek professional medical opinion and treatment even when the condition does not seem severe.

2. Acts as an antimalarial agent

In its composition, bitter kola has an element known as kolaviron. It is an antioxidant that is believed to contain antimalarial properties. That is why this plant has traditionally healers have sought the uses of bitter kola in the treatment of malaria infections. Many African natives continue using the nuts as an alternative treatment for malaria, especially in places where they cannot access modern medicines.

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3. Improves the immune system

It has a high concentration of antioxidants, therefore it can function as the other compounds which counteract free radicals. Free radical production can result from environmental stressors, including tobacco smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet rays, and many other normal processes in the body such as exercise and immune response.

Free radicals can damage cell membranes, DNA, and even other body cells. The antioxidants contained by bitter kola do not only offer important assistance to crucial functions in the body; they also provide massive support to the immune system.

That way, the human body is better positioned to fight disease-causing agents and remain healthy. This explains the link between bitter kola and pregnancy, as expectant mothers have to boost their immunity and unborn babies.

4. Improves the functioning of the lungs

Making the lungs strong is perhaps the top bitter kola benefit. Chewing kola nuts can bring a positive effect on the lungs and, in the process, improve ventilation levels. That way, the lungs can function at an optimum level. The plant works wonders in the prevention of respiratory disorders such as asthma due to its protective effects.

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5. It is an antibacterial

The bitter kola plant is enriched with antibacterial properties since the nuts seeds and leaves contain them. Bitter kola was tested against streptococcuspyogenes, staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Salmonella typhi, and the plant was able to inhibit the microorganisms successfully. The antibacterial activity is believed to be due to bioactive components in bitter kola extracts such as saponins and tannin.

6. Remedy for osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis, with symptoms varying from uncomfortable to debilitating. Its manifest characteristic is the degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone, resulting in pain and stiffness. It usually affects the knees, hips and thumb joints. Its causes are obesity, aging, joint injury, and hereditary factors.

Bitter kola has the ability to reduce the inflammation and pain that is caused by osteoarthritis. When used regularly, the plant can also increase joint movement to alleviate the suffering of people who have the condition.

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7. The aphrodisiac credentials

Bitter kola is considered to be an aphrodisiac. This means that the plant has the ability to increase sexual desire, pleasure, and performance. Due to this benefit of bitter kola, the plant has gained popularity among people eager to boost their sex life.

8. Bitter kola and weight loss

Many people struggle with weight because of their eating habits. Against common belief, bitter kola does not contribute to weight gain but does the opposite. Adding it to your diet can suppress your appetite, and as you eat less, you will start losing weight.

Disadvantages of bitter kola

Even with the numerous bitter kola benefits, there are always two sides to the coin, and this plant has its side effects. Some of the disadvantages of bitter kola include:

1. May increase blood pressure

People suffering from high blood pressure are warned from using bitter kola. This is because the nut is said to contain a stimulant whose properties can increase blood pressure. This can harm people already suffering from hypertension.

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2. Can cause insomnia

One of the elements contained in bitter kola is caffeine. Caffeine makes most people find it difficult to fall asleep after consuming it. It increases one's alertness, but if you need a good night's rest, then you will find it as an obstacle.

3. Diarrhoea

If you have some problems with diarrhea, then you should steer clear of bitter kola. If you chew an excess amount of bitter kola, then it can worsen the diarrhea situation.

4. Slows the clotting of blood

Bitter kola
Bitter kola packed in clear plastic containers. Photo: @bitter_kola_supplies
Source: Instagram

Bitter kola can slow blood clotting when consumed in large amounts. This can be dangerous when a person gets injured because it will be difficult to stop the bleeding, turning into a life-threatening situation. Bitter kola should therefore be taken in smaller quantities and avoided completely after surgeries.

5. Results in involuntary movements (tremors)

Bitter kola adversely affects the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. When those systems are affected, it results in shakiness, quivering and anxiousness. It may also eventually lead to a mental breakdown as one loses control over body movement.

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Even with the numerous benefits of bitter kola, most people head to the market to buy the plant's products without stopping to think about its side effects. Since the plant is sought for medicinal value, you may find those buying it already on other drugs. If you are one of those, you must consult your doctor to avoid any adverse effects associated with the plant or the medication you are already on.


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility! recently shared an article on what hijama is and its advantages and disadvantages of the procedure. The procedure involves removing bad blood from the body. It is used to treat various diseases and is carried out with the help of special instruments. What is hijama?

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