Kola nuts have only just begun to make an appearance in the western world, but they have a lengthy history of use throughout West Africa. The cultural, religious and spiritual importance runs deep throughout countries like Nigeria and Niger.
Perhaps originally chewed during social occasions, and to alleviate moments of hunger, the kola nut now has deep spiritual meaning. It’s used throughout religious ceremonies to aid in divination, prayer, communication with ancestors, and during funeral ceremonies.
It was brought outside of West Africa in the 1800’s by a man named John Pemberton. He was a pharmacist responsible for the creation of the original cola flavored (the word cola comes from Kola nut) carbonated soda. Originally the soda was created with kola nuts, coca leaves and sugar and had strictly a medicinal purpose. However, considering coca is now a banned substance, it’s not surprising that the recipe quickly changed in order to become the cola we see sold everywhere today. Kola nuts as a primary medicinal ingredient were replaced with other sources of caffeine and artificial flavors.
These days, Kola Nut is being studied for its potential as a powerful source of health benefits. Benefits that could reach far beyond the mild caffeine boost pursued by John Pemberton in the 1800’s. Kola nut is much more than just a cola flavorant, and adding bitter kola nut as a whole ingredient to your diet is much healthier than drinking the cola we see today. It comes in a variety of formats, but should always be consumed fresh or at least ground fresh and the powder stored via tincture. It is also available as a capsule, and easily added to a coffee or tea from powder format for an added caffeine boost and kick of health benefits.
1. Boosts Metabolism
If you suffer from slow metabolism, there is evidence to suggest that Kola nuts might give it an added boost, speeding it up and possibly leading to faster weight loss. It also helps the body consume fat more quickly, and has been traditionally used an appetite suppressant. These three characteristics all work together to assist in a pursuit of weight loss, however kola nuts should always be used to supplement a healthy diet and good exercise, and not as the primary method of weight loss.
2. Beneficial for Prostate Cancer
There are characteristics of the Kola Nut which have been shown to target the cells of prostate cancer. Both phytoestrogens and phytoandrogens, which are components in the nut, have been proven to instigate cell suicide, or apoptosis, within prostate cancer. It should be noted that further Kola nut specific trials are in their infancy, but this is an interesting land exciting line of scientific pursuit.
3. Infection Killer
An added benefit that was likely not fully understood in the Kola nut’s rich cultural history, is that Kola nuts seem to target and kill infections. It was used traditionally to treat chest infections but scientifically speaking, they target bacteria from the family called Mycobacterium according to a small study from 2004. These pesky bacteria lead to illnesses such as meningitis and tuberculosis.
While targeting the bacterial basis of these common chest infections, the Kola nut also helps reduce the effects of these infections by relaxing muscles, and opening up cells called alveolar ducts and sacs which hold air within the lungs. Basically, it not only targets the infection, but eases restricted breathing.
4. Diuretic Properties
Theobromine, found within Kola nuts, can help increase urinary production which is important when trying to flush the body of toxins and harsh chemicals. Increasing urine is also important when treating heart failure, hypertension, liver issues and water poisoning. When using as a diuretic, always increase the amount of water consumed to ensure continued hydration.
5. Natural Energy Booster
The reason why Kola nuts were originally tapped for use within the first cola drinks, is because they contain 1.5% to 2% percent caffeine, as well as other substances called theobromine and theophylline. Besides increasing urination, theobromine boosts energy levels and cognitive function because it increases cerebral circulation. This same substance is also found in other foods like chocolate. Theophylline encourages muscle relaxation, and eases breathing for those suffering from respiratory issues. It shouldn’t be surprising that chewing Kola nuts can sometimes create a mild sense of calm, ease, and euphoria because of these particular substances that it contains.
6. Benefits Digestion
Traditionally used as an appetite suppressant, a Kola nut actually does much more. When chewed or otherwise ingested, Kola nuts help nutrient uptake during the digestion process. If you suffer from digestion issues like bloating, cramping, irritable bowel syndrome, gas or irregular bowel movements, Kola nuts can help to relax the digestive system and ease the daily suffering.
7. Increases Circulation
Kola nuts promote cerebral circulation by stimulating blood flow and oxygenation. Because it does increase circulation in the brain, it has traditionally been used for cognitive stimulation as it calms the brain for clearer thought and improved concentration. However, it doesn’t just target the brain, it also increases circulation to the skin, organs and extremities. With increased blood flow, the body is better able to heal itself through cellular repair.