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Herb Reference Guide

Cola

History

Cola nut trees have been an important part of African culture for centuries, particularly in Nigeria and West Africa. Africans have long used the pods medicinally to ease labor pains; seeds to relieve diarrhea, nausea, and hangover; and the bark to heal wounds. The wood is also used to build houses, and boats. The nuts are traditionally used as a stimulant and the roots to clean teeth and sweeten breath. Cola nut plays a significant role in traditional African hospitality and social ceremonies. Friends even send nuts as invitations or congratulations. The name for cola drinks is derived from this plant, although the cola nut is no longer used as an ingredient in most commercial drinks.

Function

Cola nuts are used internally as an ingredient for tonics, where there is occasional mental and physical exhaustion. Cola nuts are astringent and bitter-sweet, and because of the naturally occurring caffeine may have a stimulating effect in the body. The cola nut contains 1% to 2.5% caffeine and is responsible for its primary effect in the body.

Uses of Cola

Disclaimer

This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

Contains caffeine, tannins and phenolics, such as catechin, epicartechin and procyanidins.

Parts Used

  • The seed (nut)

Important precautions

Cola Nut does naturally contain caffeine. If you are sensitive to caffeine then this product should be avoided. It should also be avoided by people with high blood pressure, heart palpitations or peptic ulcers.

Additional Resources

1. Ajarem JS. Effects of fresh kola-nut extract (Cola nitida) on the locomotor activities of male mice. Acta Physiol Pharmacol Bulg. 1990;16(4):10-5.

2. Atawodi SE, Pfundstein B, Haubner R, et al. Content of polyphenolic compounds in the Nigerian stimulants Cola nitida ssp. alba, Cola nitida ssp. rubra A. Chev, and Cola acuminata Schott & Endl and their antioxidant capacity. J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Nov 28;55(24):9824-8.

3. Burdock GA, Carabin IG, Crincoli CM. Safety assessment of kola nut extract as a food ingredient. Food Chem Toxicol. 2009 Aug;47(8):1725-32.

Photo by M. A. P. Accardo Filho.