In Nigeria today and most parts of West Africa, people do eat bitter kola because of one medicinal purpose or the other. The health benefits of Bitter Kola can never be over emphasised, no wonder it is also known as the "African wonder fruit". Bitter kola with the botanical name Garcina kola is a nut that grows on the G. kola trees that is normally found in coastal rainforest zones found in the south, east, and western parts of Nigeria. It have different names it is been called according to the languages and tribes of the various parts of Nigeria. For example it is called "Aki ilu" by the Igbo tribe in south eastern Nigeria, "Nmiji-goro" by the Hausas found in the northern part of Nigeria, and "Orogbo" by the Yorubas in the south western part of Nigeria.
Also read: Health benefits of Nigerian local rice
Traditionally, these nuts were chewed just to stimulate the flow of saliva in the mouth, but today they are widely consume as a snack. There are some other traditional beliefs (or myth) that is attributed to bitter kola, for example many believe that just placing nuts of bitter kola in your house or environment, have the potency of scaring away snakes or preventing them from coming anywhere close to it. Apart from the traditional beliefs, it have been proven medically that bitter kola contains some amount of components and Phytochemicals that are highly medicinal and beneficial to human health.
Tracing our diverse cultures in Nigeria, you will find that bitter kola is culturally very important for the Igbo and Yoruba tribe, and also so many other people living in the sub-Saharan region. It has been an important part of their lives for centuries. They are used in traditional ceremonies, marking special events like; marriages, conferring of chieftaincy etc. and still they enjoy the health benefits of bitter kola.
In Nigeria and west Africa at large, the elderly people are already used to the eating of bitter kola nuts, but the youths and younger ones still find it strange. The nuts of bitter kola is a medicinal herbs and the elders are quite aware of this right from the ancients times, though they have no scientific back up to proof for it. All they know is that they chew a piece of this wonder nuts whenever there is a symptom of an ailment. In this age, as a result of various studies carried out to test for the potency of the phytochemicals present in bitter kola, the youtths are gradually realising and embracing this nut. Because all test proves it is beneficial to human health.
In herbal medicine, the fruit pulp is used for the treatment of jaundice, or high fever, while the back of the tree is used in medicinal preparations to help heal various ailments. Below are some detailed ways in which bitter kola benefits the health of humans:
Also read: 11 Amazing Health benefits of Cashewfruit
Health benefits of bitter kola
1. Effective in the treatment of cough
One popular health benefits of Bitter kola is that it have been found to be very effective in the treatment of cough. Cough arises as a result of bacterial accumulation in our throat nasal passages. Bitter kola contains anti-bacterial agents that makes it potent in fighting cough and most bacterial infections in humans. Chewing just a piece of bitter kola will go a long way in soothing your throat and nasal passages.
2. Improves the functions of the lungs
For centuries, bitter kola have been used in traditional medicine to treat chest cold. Recent research have supported the potency of bitter kola in that aspect too. Bitter kola improves the functions of the lungs by dilating the alveolar duct and sacs in the lungs by improving the strength of the fibres in the lung tissue. All these are been achieved because of the high antioxidant properties of bitter kola.
3. It fights against malaria
In Traditional and herbal medicines, bitter kola have been used for ages in combating malaria. Recent studies have discovered indeed that this nuts achieves this task as a result of some anti-malarial properties it has. Kolaviron, a powerful chemical compound found in bitter kola was reported to have an inhibitory effect on malarial activities in humans. If you are having symptoms of malaria, i will advice you just chew a piece of bitter kola and see how it works its magic.
4. Improves male fertility
Bitter kola have been a widely used remedy in improving male fertility. It is also believed that it cures impotency. Bitter kola contains chemical substances that boosts the libido in men.
5. Reduces eye pressure (Glaucoma)
Reports have indicated that bitter kola have the potency of reducing eye pressure, which can lead to glaucoma. The study revealed that opthamolic solution that contained Garcina, significantly reduces eye pressure when applied twice in day.
6. It relieves Arthritis
Arthritis (Osteoarthritis) is characterised by pain, inflammation and limited movements in the joints of affected patients. Bitter kola have been effectively used in the treatment of osteoarthritis because of its antioxidant properties. It reduces inflammation, pain and increases joint movements in patients suffering from this ailment.
7. Improves our immunity
Because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it prevents infections and attacks from different kinds of microbes, ranging from bacteria to viruses. By this act, it tends to build and improve the function of the human immune system.
8. Encourages weight loss
For as many of us that are in the quest of losing some amount of weight, i think bitter kola nuts is just all you need. It is known to be a natural hunger suppressant and also it increases the urge to drink more water, which makes you to feel full and also beneficial for your health