Benefits of Bitter Kola: The Wonder Plant

Do you know from where Coca-Cola got its iconic name?

In the early phase of Coca-Cola, the earliest recipes were made from the extracts of bitter Kola plant. Even though after some years company stopped using Kola flavor in their sodas but the name of this iconic drink still remains the same as a reminder to unusual plant behind the inspiration.

What Is Bitter Kola:

Bitter Kola which is scientifically known as Garcinia Kola is a multipurpose tree. This tree is found in tropical rain forest regions of Western and Central Africa. Bitter Kola is also called “Wonder Plant” as every part of this plant has been used as medicine for several decades.

Nutritional Profile:

Bitter Kola is considered safe to consume by FDA. A study conducted in 2013 found out that Bitter Kola is enriched with following healthy nutrients:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Fat
  • Protein
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Caffeine
  • Anti-oxidants

Health Benefits of Bitter Kola:

Bitter Kolahas been consumed in Africa for decades but its health benefits are highlighted just recently. These early studies show following health benefits:

  • Anti-Bacterial Benefits: In a study it was concluded that consumption of Bitter Kola extracts can help fighting against the growth of harmful bacteria.
  • Energy Level Boost: Bitter Kola has natural ingredients that stimulates central nervous system that increases alertness and also boots energy levels.
  • Boost to Metabolism: The Bitter Kola nuts contains caffeine that boosts a person’s metabolism.
  • Aid in Digestion: The extracts of Bitter Kola and Kola nut powder helps in digestion. Bitter Kola promotes gastric acid production that in result increases effectiveness of digestive enzymes in the stomach.
  • Sexual Potency: Bitter kola is considered a royalty in improving sexual performance specially among men. Bitter kola increases sex drive and also improves sexual performance of men.
  • Stronger Immune System: Bitter kola contains anti-oxidants. This high level of anti-oxidants helps to fight against illnesses and several bacteria. It also helps in increasing the immunity levels of body.  

Health Conditions and Bitter Kola:

There are several health conditions that can be improved by consuming bitter Kola.

  • Infections:

Bitter Kola has been used for several years to fight against several infections that ranges from mild common cold to hepatitis. In a study conducted in 2018, it was showed that bitter kola helps in fighting against bacterial infections, viral infections and coughs. In the starting phase of an infection, eating bitter kola helps in fighting the infection and also makes a person feel better quickly.

The seeds, stem and bark of bitter kola are used to treat throat infections, acute fever and inflammations of respiratory tract. 

  • Inflammation:

The seeds of bitter kola have been chewed in Africa to combat against inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. Bitter kola has high levels of potassium that is considered as a contributing factor to reduce inflammation. In 2008 a study was conducted on patients with osteoarthritis in knees, it was shown that patients who consumed bitter kola has reduced inflammation as compare to patients who were taking a placebo. 

  • Diabetes:

In bitter kola there is a chemical called kolaviron that is suggested to protect against hypoglycemia in type II diabetes patients.

  •  STDs:

After the emergence of sexually transmitted diseases scientists have been struggling to find a cure. Even though it is difficult to deal due to complicatedness but the results of studies have shown beneficial effects of bitter kola in treating STD’s.  The seed and leaves of bitter kola have anti-bacterial activity. This anti-bacterial activity helps in combating against several clinical isolates of bacterial species such as Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes and Salmonella typhi.

  • Malaria:

It has been shown through several studies that bitter kola contains several chemical constituents that contains anti-malarial properties. No wonder why bitter kola was used by traditional healers in treating malaria for many years.

Uses of Bitter Kola:

  • During certain rituals and ceremonies kola nut is chewed in several African countries.
  • Bitter kola is also used to cure bad breath.
  • Bitter kola nut is used as a flavoring agent for several sodas and drinks.
  • Kola nut is added in certain performance enhancers and energy drinks.
  • In several countries of the world kola nut is used as an alternative medicine.

How to Prepare Bitter Kola:

Bitter kola can be consumed as its own, uncooked and raw form just like any other nut. However before consuming bitter kola keep in mind the ‘bitter’ part of the name.

Bitter kola is like an acquired taste. In case you don’t like the taste of bitter kola you can add it in your drinks and made flavored bitter kola drinks with all the healthy benefits of bitter kola.


Bitter kola and products that might contain kola nut are not suitable for everyone. People who are allergic to nuts should avoid consuming bitter kola or products made from it. An allergic reaction due to bitter kola includes symptoms such as, breathing difficulties, hives and upset stomach.

People that have underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure or any cardiac condition should avoid consuming bitter kola or related products as well.

People who have insomnia, difficulty in staying asleep should avoid bitter kola. As the bitter kola has very high caffeine levels.

Side-Effects Of Bitter Kola:

The side-effects and risks of bitter kola intake may depend on the amount of bitter kola intake. The possible side-effects include:

  • Increased Blood Pressure: As the ingredients of bitter kola are active and stimulant to the body. The bitter kola can raise the blood pressure.
  • Sleep problem: Consuming bitter kola or products that contains bitter kola might lead to insomnia or that person can start developing sleep related problems.
  • Shakiness: As the bitter kola contains stimulants that can affect the central nervous system, the consumption of bitter kola can result in anxiousness, tremors and shakiness.
  • Nausea: Consumption of bitter kola in large quantities can upset stomach and nausea.


Bitter kola serves as a natural remedy for several health-related conditions. On the other hand, as the bitter kola contains stimulants, they are not recommended for every age group. Consult your doctor before consuming bitter kola for medicinal purpose.