The Many Benefits of Bitter Kola

[L-R] Valerie Mbeng, consultant biochemist, Olayemi Sunday, clinical pharmacologist, Jane Ajuluchukwu, consultant cardiologist and Brai

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Research findings have revealed that bitter kola has a lot of medicinal benefits to those who eat it

By Chinwe Okafor  |  Aug. 18, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

HIPPOCRATES, the father of modern medicine once admonished: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” According to him, modern medicine tends towards disease prevention through foods but the majority of people who wish to eat healthy food may also miss out on the fact that cooking sometimes destroys or reduces certain elements that should nourish the body. Nutritionists say that while some foods are better eaten when cooked, some others such as fruits and certain vegetables are better eaten raw in order to  get the most of each nutrient.

Bitter kola is one of such fruits which can be eaten raw and still benefit from its high nutritional content. Eating a piece of bitter kola daily can help in  the treatment for low libido, low sperm count, erectile dysfunction, arthritis, reduction of eye pressure, treating hangover, improving lung function and knee osteoarthritis among others. Medical experts at  Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, OAUTH, in a study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research, said that bitter kola has a significant analgesic/anti-inflammatory effects in knee osteoarthritis patients.

Bitter kola is a potential osteoarthritis disease activity modifier with good mid-term outcome. Another study on bitter kola published recently in Science Journal of Microbiology showed that seed and leaf of bitter kola have antibacterial activity on clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi and Streptococcus pyogenes. Bitter kola has been shown to be a popular treatment for diarrhea and fever. The seed extract is antiseptic and is active mostly against gram-positive bacteria, while the leaf, is active mostly against gram-negative bacteria. It is also very efficacious for hepatitis.

Bitter kola
Bitter kola

In West Africa, bitter kola is now being harnessed as a cure for the Ebola virus infections and also against flu. The stem, bark and the seeds are used for acute fever, inflammation of the respiratory tract and throat infections. The seeds are also chewed to relieve hoarseness of voice, sore throat and cough. In folk medicine, the seed is used for the treatment of liver disorder and it’s also used in the treatment of dysentery and diarrhea. The leaves are used for stomachache and pains and they also serve as good remedy for typhoid fever.

Generally used as a social snack and offered to guests in some cultural settings, bitter kola has been indicated in the treatment of laryngitis, general inflammation, bronchitis, viral infections and diabetes.  Realnews gathered that some Igbo medicine-men prescribe the fruit for arthritic conditions and is eaten raw and not prepared as food because it has medicinal attributes. It is also taken dry as a remedy for dysentery and is said to provide an antidote against Strophanthus poisoning.

Some medical experts in Lagos have said that regular intake of bitter kola has little or no side effect on human health. They said that bitter kola is a potent antibiotic, which could be effective in the treatment of many ailments and infections. Bartholomew Brai, nutritional biochemist at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Yaba, Lagos, said bitter kola is used in the preparation of herbal drugs either as a nourishment, a supplement or a herbal remedy.

However, Brai said: “If a patient on medication chews bitter kola, it will make the drugs ineffective but aside this, I do not think bitter kola has any other side effect Bitter kola has lots of health benefits, like the treatment of cough, sneezing, cold, diarrhoea, tuberculosis, bacterial infections and fever. It improves lungs’ function by expanding the alveolar ducts and sac in the lungs thereby improving and strengthening the fibres in the lung tissue.” He said that there was no recorded side effect to the regular intake of bitter kola, adding that it was all round medicinal.

Emeka Amaechi, a general physician, also said that bitter kola had chemical compounds that could help the breakdown of glycogen in the liver. “Bitter kola has antioxidant properties used as tonic for the liver and the gall bladder, which helps detoxifies the body system and it clears the voice by stimulating the production of mucus along the lining of the vocal tube which softens the dry throat and he added that bitter kola was an anti-poison. According to him, when food is suspected to be contaminated by bacteria, chewing of bitter kola will prevent the development of any infection or poison.

Amaechi said that biter kola helps to reduce eye pressure and relieves arthritis by reducing swelling, pain and increase joint movement. He also attested to the fact that the likely side effect of eating bitter kola could be incurred by any patient on drugs or medication. Botanically known as Garcinia kola, bitter kola belongs to the plant family Guttifereae. In Nigeria it is called oje in Bokyi, edun or efiari in Efik, efrie in Ejagham-Ekin, cida goro in Hausa, efiat in Ibibio, emiale in Icheve, igoligo in Idoma, aku-ilu or ugolo in Ibo, akaan in Ijo-Izon, okain in Isekiri, and orogbo in Yoruba.


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  2. Wow! This is awesome. Thanks so much for embarking on this all informative research. May God increase your wisdom in Jesus name.

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  4. Good discovery. But no single chemical compound of biter kola is mentioned in this report to validate its usefulness.

    I am not discrediting your report.

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