Kola Nut - Cola

Kola Nut

Cola

Medicinally, kola nuts are used to treat chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, melancholy, atony (reduced normal muscle tone), dysentery, atonic diarrhea, exhaustion, migraine, headache, and obesity.

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names: Cola, Kola, Bitter Kola
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: Yes
  • Ceremonial: Yes
  • Parts Used: Nuts
  • Side Effects: None
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About Kola Nut

Kola nut is a tropical caffeine-containing nut that emerges on evergreen trees of Cola nitida or Cola accuuminata. Traditionally, it is presented to esteemed guests or ceremonially to chiefs in the tribal culture of Western Africa. Cola nitida trees can grow up to a height of 40 to 65 feet with alternate glabrous, oblong, tough, and leathery leaves that have wavy and untoothed margins. 

Cola nitida is grown in different tropical regions of the world due to its eminent kola nuts that are used in manufacturing cola, a popular soft drink. Kola nuts are habitually chewed in Africa to gain their stimulant and euphoric effects, all the while controlling the hunger pangs. 

Medicinally, kola nuts are used to treat chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, melancholy, atony (reduced normal muscle tone), dysentery, atonic diarrhea, exhaustion, migraine, headache, and obesity. Kola nuts are packed with plenty of phytonutrients, including caffeine, theobromine, epicatechin, catechin, cardenolides, saponins, and tannins. All these active ingredients make up for the remarkable pharmacological activities kola nuts impart.

 

Growing

Kola nuts are native to tropical regions. It can be planted at any time of the year. It is recommended to start the kola nut germination indoors with seeds and then transplant the seedlings outside in the garden beds to give them space to transform into a tree. 

Kola nuts require well-drained, rich, and fertile soil to flourish. It is preferable to transplant the seedlings on a coastal area in rainforest conditions. It takes around 10 years for a kola nut tree to mature and serve vigorously for the next 100 years. 

Cola nitida trees take around 10 years to fully mature. The plant is in bloom for the whole year but after around 4 years when the tree is about 6-9 feet high, it produces fruits. These fruits bear seeds that are known to the world as kola nuts. According to farmers, the trees produce fruits twice a year, first in May/June and then in November/December. These kola nuts can be used again to start a new cola tree. A single tree is capable of producing nuts for 100 years while the old ones serve the purpose of shade trees for the cocoa plants.

Harvesting

As per the farmers’ guidance, kola nuts are majorly harvested in November/December but they can be collected in May/June too, but mildly.

Kola nuts are harvested mechanically or manually by plucking them with hands from the tree branches.

Kola nuts are best stored fresh in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. 

 

Usage

Kola nuts are commercially used in manufacturing a famous soft drink, cola. But their amazing therapeutic effects have compelled the herbalists to prepare herbal remedies possessing kola nuts.

  • Tincture - Roasted kola nuts are macerated in alcohol for a month to formulate a kola nut tincture.
  • Tea - Add 1 teaspoon of kola nut powder to a piping hot cup of water. Adjust the caffeine according to your taste and enjoy.
  • Decoction - Powdered or intact kola nuts are decocted in water on a medium flame for a given period (as mentioned in the monograph) to make a decoction.
  • Salve - Kola nut infused in jojoba oil is thickened with melted beeswax to form a kola nut salve.
  • Syrup - Roasted kola nuts are simmered in sugar solution for a specified period of time (as written in the monograph) to produce a kola nut syrup. 
  • Infused oil - Kola nuts are infused in jojoba oil for 2 to 3 weeks on a sunny windowsill to form kola nuts-infused oil.