Health Benefits of Bitter Kola

Health Benefits of Bitter Kola

Published by Solomon on 7th Sep 2023

Bitter kola is a secret treasure in the world of exotic and obscure natural treatments. This little, bitter fruit, which is indigenous to West Africa's tropical rainforests, has long been prized for its extraordinary health properties.

Although the name of this plant might not conjure up images of mouthwatering cuisine, bitter kola is a potent source of vitamins, minerals, and other substances that have substantial positive effects on your health. 

In this article, we explore the fascinating world of bitter kola and learn how it may benefit several facets of your health. Be prepared to be amazed by the extraordinary benefits that this unassuming fruit can provide, from its historical uses in folk medicine to the cutting-edge scientific study proving its benefits.

What is Bitter Kola?

Bitter kola, scientifically known as Garcinia kola, is a tropical fruit tree native to the rainforests of West and Central Africa. It belongs to the Guttiferae family and is closely related to the better-known kola nut (Cola spp.).

Is Bitter Kola the same as Kola Nut?

Bitter kola and kola nut are related but not the same. They come from different plant species and have distinct characteristics.

Bitter kola fruits are small, similar in size to a chestnut, and have a rough, brownish exterior. It has a very bitter taste due to its high content of bitter compounds.

Kola Nut on the other hand are larger than bitter kola, usually about the size of a small apple, and have a smoother, reddish-brown shell. Kola nuts are also bitter but less intensely bitter compared to bitter kola.

What does Bitter Kola taste like?

Bitter kola (Garcinia kola) lives up to its name—it tastes extremely bitter. The bitterness is intense and sharp, often described as more bitter than other commonly encountered bitter foods or drinks like coffee, dark chocolate, or certain types of greens.

Nutritional Value of Bitter Kola

Bitter kola (Garcinia kola) is a small fruit native to West and Central Africa. It is valued for its potential health benefits and contains a range of nutrients and bioactive compounds. Here is an overview of the nutritional value of bitter kola:

Vitamin C: Bitter kola contains vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage and supports the immune system.

Calcium: Bitter kola contains calcium, which is essential for strong bones and teeth, blood clotting, and muscle function.

Potassium: Potassium is important for maintaining proper heart and muscle function and helps regulate blood pressure.

Iron: Iron is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood.

Magnesium: Magnesium is involved in various biochemical processes in the body, including muscle and nerve function.

Bitter compounds: Bitter kola gets its name from its intense bitterness, which is attributed to the presence of bitter compounds like garcinia and kolaviron. These compounds are believed to have potential health benefits.

Bitter kola contains antioxidants, which help protect the body's cells from oxidative damage. Antioxidants are essential for overall health and may play a role in reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Bitter kola contains various phytonutrients, including flavonoids and tannins, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

While the fiber content of bitter kola is not particularly high, it still contributes to digestive health and may help regulate bowel movements.

Health Benefits of Bitter Kola

Antioxidant Properties

Bitter kola contains antioxidants, such as flavonoids and tannins, which help combat oxidative stress in the body. Antioxidants play a crucial role in protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals, which are associated with various chronic diseases and aging.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Some studies suggest that bitter kola may possess anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is linked to numerous health issues, including chronic diseases like arthritis and heart disease. Bitter kola's anti-inflammatory potential could have a positive impact on overall health.

Antibacterial and Antimicrobial Activity

Bitter kola has been traditionally used in West African cultures to treat infections and promote wound healing. Research indicates that it may have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, making it a potential natural remedy for combating certain pathogens.

Lung Cleansing

An antioxidant called saponin is found in garcinia kola. It has cleaning and purifying properties. By enlarging the alveolar ducts and sacs, this further enhances lung function and, as a result, strengthens the lung tissue's fibres. This can also help combat chest cold.

Digestive Aid

In some cultures, bitter kola is consumed to aid digestion and alleviate stomach discomfort. It is believed to stimulate digestive enzymes and improve overall digestive health.


Bitter kola seeds may be used as a therapy for diabetes since it is thought that they can lower blood sugar levels miletus.

Aphrodisiac Properties

Bitter kola has a long-standing reputation as an aphrodisiac and is sometimes used to enhance sexual function in traditional medicine. While scientific evidence supporting this claim is limited, it remains a popular belief in certain regions.

Weight Management

Some studies have suggested that the bitter compounds in bitter kola may have a role in weight management. They may help reduce appetite and support weight loss efforts when used in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Malaria Treatment

It is thought that bitter kola has chemical characteristics that make it a catalyst for an antimalarial drug. It contains kolaviron, a natural phytochemical with strong antimalarial and anti-inflammatory effects.

Uses of Bitter Kola

Bitter kola is used in traditional medicine across West Africa to address various health concerns. It is believed to have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, making it a potential remedy for ailments like coughs, colds, and infections.

Bitter kola is often used in cultural and ceremonial practices in West Africa. It is presented as offerings during rituals, weddings, and traditional celebrations as a symbol of hospitality and goodwill.

Chewing bitter kola is also believed to help freshen breath and promote oral hygiene due to its natural bitterness.

Potential Side Effects of Bitter Kola

The bitter kola's active components, which are stimulants for the body, can cause blood pressure to rise. Before consuming any product containing bitter kola, people who already have high blood pressure or who are using blood pressure medication should consult their doctor. 

Having trouble falling or staying asleep is a side effect of using products containing bitter kola. People with sleep difficulties should be advised to stay away from bitter kola as they contain contain caffeine. 

Bitter Kola may cause shakiness, tremors, and anxiety because they have an impact on the central nervous system. Bitter Kola may cause trembling more easily in anxious people.

How to Prepare Bitter Kola

Like many nuts, bitter kola can be consumed raw on its own. But keep in mind that the word "bitter" is used for a reason. A taste for bitter kola can be developed. At African marketplaces and online retailers, you could occasionally discover beverages made with or flavored with astringent kola. These drinks might be an excellent choice if you don't like the flavor but still want to include bitter kola in your diet.

Bitter kola can also be used to prepare a bitter kola tea. To make this tea, break the bitter kola into smaller pieces, add them to hot water, and let it steep for a few minutes. The resulting infusion can be consumed as a beverage. Some people sweeten the tea with honey to balance the bitterness.

How to eat Bitter Kola

Simply break open the outer shell and chew the bitter kola seed. The bitterness can be intense, so you may want to start with a small piece and gradually increase the amount as you become accustomed to the taste.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How many Bitter Kola should you eat a day?

An individual should consume two bitter kola nuts each day. This small amount of bitter kola is sufficient to restore your energy and enhance your wellbeing.

Where can I buy Bitter Kola?

You can purchase quality, fresh Bitter Kola here at our African Grocery Store.


From its rich history in traditional medicine to its emerging roles in modern research, bitter kola has demonstrated its potential to bolster our health. Its antioxidants fend off the relentless assaults of oxidative stress, while its anti-inflammatory properties offer relief from the silent fires of inflammation. 

As an antibacterial agent, it stands guard against microbial invaders, and its role in respiratory health has earned it a place among nature's remedies for soothing coughs and colds.

Bitter Kola stands to remind us that even in the bitter of things pleasure and benefits can be gotten.