Chairman, Bioresource Development Group (BDG) Prof Maurice Iwu answers the question on Bitter Kola Benefits
Bitter Kola, Garcinia kola, used extensively in West Africa as a social beverage and offered to guests as ‘Kola’ in many of Nigeria’s cultural settings, is valued also for its medicinal properties. It is used in traditional medicine for the treatment of Laryngitis, general inflammation, bronchitis, viral infections and diabetes as well as a rejuvenating agent, adaptogen and general antidote. Scientists at our laboratories have performed extensive research and written many books on this wonder plant called ‘Garcinia’. Researchers have identified bitter kola as a potential antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and a potential detoxifying agent.
Bitter kola is a food supplement and anti-infective agent in the management of cold, bronchitis, and it reduces congestion of the upper respiratory tract.
Very effective in managing symptoms of cold and sore throat, pains, cough, nasal congestion and helps coagulate phlegm.
It is used in many tropical countries to fight infectious diseases. It is effective for managing pains, bacteria and viruses.
Garcinia has a cleansing effect on the liver, gall bladder and the entire body system. It reduces the absorption of poison.
Kolaviron is a deflated ethanol extract from the seeds of garcinia kola, which studies have shown to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Other health benefits
Immunity: The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant property makes the body resistant to infections. It is used to prevent infections especially in people with immune system.
Libido enhancement: Impotence is restored by increasing blood supply to the core area in men who have hardening of the arteries. Bitter kola is the number one sexual performance medicine for men. Few natural products can match the sexual benefits of bitter kola.
Hangover: It prevents the alcoholic induced hangover and improving lung function.
Improving lung function: Garcinia kola has been used for centuries to treat chest colds in traditional medicine, but research has taken a look and found out why it is effective. A study in the 2008 issue of The Internet Journal of Pulmonary Medicine, performed on mice, reports that Garcinia Kola works by dilating the alveolar duct and sacs in the lungs by improving the strength of the fibres in the lungs tissue. Garcinia Kola’s beneficial attributed to its high antioxidant content.
Reduction of eye pressure: An increase in eye pressure can lead to glaucoma, according to a report from The New York Times Health Guide. Researchers at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi Araba, Lagos, tested the effectiveness of eye drops that contained 0.5 percent extract of Garcinia Kola. The results of their study, published in the January 2010 issue of Middle East African Journal of the Opthamology showed that the opthamolic solution that contained the Garcinia significantly reduced eye pressure when used twice a day.
Relieve arthritis: Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, characterised by pain, inflammation and limited movement in the joints, according to the National Institutes of Health. Causes of osteoarthritis can include joint injury, obesity and aging. Since many arthritis sufferers prefer natural herbal medicines to other pain relievers and medications, researchers at Obafemo Awolowo University in Nigeria tested the effects of Garcinia kola against arthritis symptoms. The result of the study, written by Olayinka O. Adegbehingbe and published in the July 2008 issue of the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research, conclude that Garcinia kola significantly reduced inflammation and pain and increased joint movement in subjects that had osteoarthritis symptoms. It is believed that Garcinia Kola works well as a result of its antioxidant properties. What the study termed as the “side effects” of Garcinia Kola were “weight loss”, “increase in sex drive” and “extended sleep” which many considered helpful to meet their individual and marital demands.
Medical significance: Garcinia kola is used to fight infectious diseases. It has shown to possess anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antiviral properties.
Blood glucose lowering: The folk use of bitter kola in the management of elevated blood sugar has been validated by several laboratory studies. Garcinia-IHP is beneficial as a food supplement for diabetics.
Weight loss: Bitter kola has been shown to be a natural hunger suppressant and also increases the urge to drink more water.
How to use bitter kola: It should be eaten by removing outer brown coated skin. As the name implies it is very bitter to eat, hence, Garcinia-IHP is encapsulated Garcinia kola, so if you cannot handle the bitter taste of the raw seeds, you can still enjoy the benefits that it offers to your health.
Antioxidant property: Bitter kola contains kolaviron, mixture of bioflavonoids, benzophenones and chromanols which are responsible for its strong antioxidant activities. An evaluation of the antioxidant properties of garcinoic acid (structurally similar to vitamin E) and its congeners showed that it has a stronger antioxidant activity than vitamin E.
Bitter kola as an adaptogen: It is intriguing that bioflavonoids of Garcina kola are capable of modulating almost any physiological anomaly. The answer perhaps lies in the role of flavonoids in the evolutionary course of human beings. Humans, over many millennia, have adapted to a diet, which is favourable for the survival and the flavonoid-like structures, were part of that primordial physiological scheme.