The Story of Bitter Cola

Bitter Kola (Garcinia kola) is one of the popular names in orthodox medicine, with a great spiritual and socio-economic significance in many African Cultures.  It is known and used in different traditions for several purposes. Even medical experts and therapists sometimes now recommend bitter kola for people suffering from liver and other system disorders. Before we talk about these, let’s have a look at the general information about bitter cola.


According to the binomial system of nomenclature, bitter kola is known as Garcinia kola. See below the classification down to species level.


Kingdom  Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom  Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision  Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division  Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class  Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass  Dilleniidae
Order  Theales
Family  Clusiaceae – Mangosteen family
Genus  Garcinia L. – saptree P
Species  Garcinia kola Heckel – garcinia P


Where bitter Kola is found

Bitter kola is naturally found in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. and is abundant in many African countries like:

Benin, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone

Some bonus info on bitter kola

  1. As the name implies, its bitter
  2. Due to its high socio-economic importance, it is quite expensive in the African  Market. Many people make much money exporting the seeds to other countries where the value of the seeds have become known. Many Africans Abroad still fall back on bitter kola for many medical situations.
  3. The Other parts of the bitter kola fruit have also been proven to have some medical/traditional use (as we shall discuss in this article)



Bitter cola has some issues of seed dormancy which has discouraged many farmers from growing it.  There is still need for researchers to investigate the challenges of Bitter kola seed dormancy for possible methods that farmers could adopt with low technical input to increase seed germination and availability.

The chemical  nature of the seed is suspected to be responsible for physiological dormancy just as the possession of seed coat has proved a challenge to seed germination.  The seeds are soaked in water to reduce the physiological dormancy. For faster germination the seed coat is removed before planting.

Nutritional Values 

Some may wonder, what is under that bitter taste? It is a general belief that many of the most effective medicines are bitter. Bitter kola is not left out. It is believed to contain vitamins and minerals such as Vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, fiber, calcium, potassium, and iron, also carry other antioxidants.

Health Benefits of bitter kola

Bitter kola has over the ages, served in many African medical cultures for treatment and healing of different ailments. Many researchers are still working hard to discover more possible healing attributes of the bitter kola plant. I took time to confer with many practitioners of herbal and alternative medicine who gave an inexhaustible list of what they do with bitter kola. Let’s have a look.

  1. Boosting of Immune System: Bitter kola has a lot of antioxidants. Many therapists often advise their clients to be chewing bitter kola regularly to fire up their immune system to full throttle in defense of the body against many diseases (STDs inclusive) owing to its antibacterial, detoxification, and cleansing properties. Results of many studies have shown that the  seeds and leaves of bitter kola have antibacterial activity on clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi and Streptococcus pyrogens.
  2.  Treatment of Malaria: For ages Traditional herbal healers have been using bitter kola for the treatment of malaria. This has been corroborated by the discovery of Kolaviron, an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory phyto-chemical found in bitter kola seeds which helps in treating malaria. Many Practitioners of alternative medicine have keyed into this discovery to uphold the use of bitter kola in malaria treatment.
  3. Treatment of Impotence and boosting of Libido: Bitter kola has been proven to be effective not only in boosting of libido, but also in treatment of impotence. So many practitioners of traditional medicine have admitted to using it in their treatment of many impotent men. This however has not been proved scientifically, but is believed to have saved many marriages that the thorn of infertility had almost torn apart.
  4. Anti-Poison: Bitter kola has made a name in many African cultures for its use as an anti-poison. It is believed that chewing it before or after eating anything would neutralize any harmful chemicals/poisons that the food might contain.
  5. Glaucoma treatment: Glaucoma is a condition of increased pressure within the eye. This condition can lead to temporary blindness and eventually to permanent blindness if left untreated. Bitter Kola has proved a savior where this situation is concerned. According to a journal released by the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, eating bitter kola twice a day could reduce (if not permanently eliminate) the pressure.
  6. Mental Alertness: Bitter kola has proved to be capable of improving mental alertness and even to keep sleep away because of its rich caffeine content. Many colleagues in our school days were used to coffee. When their bodies got de-sensitized to coffee such that it no longer kept them from sleeping, many resorted to bitter kola. This worked for many people.
  7. Treatment of Cough/Catarrh: Very dry coughs have been treated by many herbal medicine practitioners using bitter kola. It is now common to see people with cough/catarrh with bitter kola in their mouths. It has gained credit for completely curing dry coughs and even improving the general health condition of the respiratory system.

The list goes on and on. Bitter kola also has other benefits aside from health, some of which i would just list below.

  1. Snake repellent: Many people have reported that some chemical property of bitter kola kept snakes away from their homes when they spread the seeds around the house.
  2. Rituals and spiritual cleansing
  3. Suppressing Spiritual enemies
  4. Great Source of Income

Article Compiled by Ozoemena Isaac

Note from Chief Editor

Do you sell this item or any other nature product? Visit our nature store at to create a free nature shop to sell your nature products. Many people are looking for natural medicine and nature products these days, with the global reversion to bios and alternative medicine.

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2 thoughts on “The Story of Bitter Cola

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