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Kola nut


Kola nut is available in the webshop, both in powder form and as whole nuts.

What is Kola nut?

Kolanut in parts

Kola nut is the seed kernel of a large African tree grown commercially around the world, particularly in Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Brazil and other parts of South America. It is extremely popular amongst the inhabitants as a caffeine-containing stimulant. The nuts are eaten whole or powdered and mixed with liquid for a drink. Cola nut is also still an ingredient in Coca Cola.


Kola nut has been used in folk medicine as an aphrodisiac and an appetite suppressant, and to treat morning sickness, migraine headache, and indigestion. It has also been applied directly to the skin to treat wounds and inflammation. The tree's bitter twig has been used as well, to clean the teeth and gums. Centuries ago, Arabs traded gold dust for cola nuts before starting out on long treks across the Sahara. Since ancient times cola nuts play a special role in many African societies, and they still do. They function as a dowry, and they symbolize hospitality. A visitor is always offered kola nuts to welcome him.

And even nowadays the seeds are still extensively used as a condiment by the natives of Western and Central tropical Africa, also by the people from the West Indies and Brazil, who introduced the trees to these countries. Cola acuminata, or Gurru nuts, are employed in the same way as Cola nuts; they are from a tree growing in Cameron and Congo, not esteemed so highly, but much in use as a caffeine stimulant.


Cola nitida is a member of Sterculiaceae; Tribus Sterculiae, subtribus Sterculiinae. It is an evergreen tree that has glossy green leaves, violet striped flowers and star-shaped fruits. This tree reaches 25 meters in height and is propagated through seeds. Cola nitida and Cola acuminata can easily be interchanged with other Cola species (like Cola vera, which is most suitable for medicinal purposes).

In Western Africa, these trees are usually found growing near the sea-coast, and a big trade is carried on with the nuts by the natives of the interior. A small piece is chewed before each meal to promote digestion; it is also thought to improve the flavour of anything eaten after it and even to render putrid water palatable; the powder is applied to cuts.


Key constituents are caffeine, theobromine, tannins and phenolics, including d-catechin, l-epicatechin, kolatin, and kolanin. It also contains phlobaphens, the antocyanin pigment kola red, betaine, protein and starch.


Kolanut powder

In Africa and the American tropics, they are chewed to retard fatigue and hunger. Cola nuts have a bitter initial taste, then sweet, and also sweeten any food or drink taken immediately afterwards. The properties of cola are the same as caffeine, modified only by the astringents present. Fresh cola nuts have stimulant action apart from the caffeine content, but as they appear in European commerce, their action is indistinguishable from that of other caffeine drugs and cola red is inert.

Medical use

Cola has a marked stimulating effect on the human consciousness. In the short term, it may be used in nervous debility, in states of weakness. Additionally, it can act as a specific for nervous diarrhoea. It will also aid in states of depression and may, in some people, give rise to euphoric states. Because of its caffeine content, cola nut may relieve some migraine headaches. The phenolics and anthrocyanin are likely to provide antioxidant activity.

Historical uses of cola nut include increasing the capacity for physical exertion and for enduring fatigue without food; stimulating a weak heart; and treating nervous debility, weakness, lack of emotion, nervous diarrhoea, depression, despondency, brooding anxiety, and seasickness.


Besides the nuts, whole or powdered, we've found that Cola nut is also available as an extract and fragrance oil.


Unless otherwise prescribed, the recommended dosage for dried powder is 1-3 g, two to three times daily. Also, a decoction can be made: put l - 2 teaspoonfuls of the powdered nuts in a cup of water, bring to boiling and simmer gently for 10 - l5 minutes. This should be drunk when needed.


Cola is not advised for individuals with stomach ulcers due both to its caffeine and its tannin content. 5,6 tannins, found in many plants, are substances that can irritate the stomach. Although some side effects can occur, just as when taking coffee, cola nut is considered safe.


Possible side effects are: sleep disorders, over-excitability, nervous restlessness, and gastric irritations may occur.


Cola nut is strengthening of the action of psychoanaleptic drugs and caffeine-containing beverages. For medical purposes, it will go well with Oats, Damiana, and Skullcap.


When kept in a cold and dry place, Kola nut can be stored for a long time.

Links / References

This article is based on the following pages:

Herbalgram.org on Cola nut

Viable herbal on Cola nut

Botanical on Cola nut

Africa Speaks

Holistic online on Cola nut.

About.com: Herbal stimulant - Abuse (Image by Wikipedia)


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