This article highlights the health benefits of kola nut. The Health Industry has undergone a series of changes in many ways. These changes range from how medicines are made, to the use of artificial intelligence and machines in health practices. Despite these changes, the use of natural products as medications in treating illnesses and diseases continues and Kola nut is not an exemption.
What is kola nut?
Kola nut is a nut obtained from the Kola tree. It is botanically known as Cola nitida, and is native to the African rainforest. It is commonly known as ‘Gworo‘ by the Hausas. It is popularized by the Yorubas and also the Ibos. It is known to possess potent health benefits for the body. Some of these effects are verified scientifically, and others have no scientific backing.
The effects of Kola are observed to be a result of the major chemical component of the nut and the tree. This shall be further discussed in this article, and the health benefits outlined.
What are the health benefits of Kola nut?
The Kola is known to have a wide variety of health benefits such as:
- Boosts the body’s metabolism
- Aids mental alertness and sharpness
- Increases energy level
- Enhances sexual performance
- Clears the throat
- Increases the Heart rate
According to the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, the main component of Kola nut is caffeine. Other possible components are Theobromine, Theophylline and Polyphenol. It also contains Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium which are good for systemic circulation and strong bones.
Kola nut has further been rumoured to treat the following conditions:
- Weight loss
- Depression: Caffeine leads to mental alertness and activity.
- Exhaustion: it quickens the body through its actions on the Heart.
- Hypotension: by increasing the heart rate, the blood pressure increases to the permissible level
- Asthma: by clearing the airways, it makes breathing easier.
- Cough: often mixed with other substances, it has been known to clear the throat.
Note: There is an insufficient scientific study to back these claims. However, these observed results are thought to be the result of its caffeine content.
Unsafe effects of Kola consumption
Medically, excessive consumption of Kola has been found to be the cause of a number of health concerns. Just like the positive effects, the negative effects of Kola nut is from its Caffeine content. These conditions are often related to the overdose of caffeine. Hence, consumption of Kola nut should be controlled in order to avoid the harm it could cause.
Conditions such as the following are caused by excessive Kola intake:
- High Blood Pressure
- Increased anxiety disorder
- Bleeding disorders
Caffeine has been found to react negatively with some medications. Kola nut is a major source of Caffeine and should therefore be avoided when using certain medications. Examples: Antibiotics and Asthma controlling medications (caffeine increases the Heart rate).
Other uses of Kola (Traditional uses)
As repeatedly mentioned in Chinua Achebe‘s Things Fall Apart, the kola is an essential aspect of the Ibo culture.
- It is used to welcome special guests
- It is used to open a societal gathering
- It is taken in special gatherings like funerals.
- Breaking and chewing Kola is a sign of agreement between two parties (the Ibo tradition).
Kola nut has been found to have Industrial applications. Before 2016, it was a component of Coca-Cola drink. And till now, it is still a major source of caffeine and cola flavour in the beverage Industry.
Kola nut is nature’s gold to us. It has properties that are put to use in various fields of life. Such as medicine, beverage production, and traditional and cultural practices. Though Kola nut has many health benefits, however as with every good thing, control is essential to prevent over-consumption and overdose.