Garcinia kola, known as bitter kola, is a multipurpose tree indigenous to West and Central Africa. Garcinia Kola plant is called “wonder plant” because all of its parts can be used as medicine.
Bitter Kola plant is a medium-sized tree with an average height of 25-30 meters and 1.5 meters wide as found by Iwu, 1993.
The tree produces characteristics orange like pod, with edible portion in the pod.
It is believed to contain a high source of vitamins and minerals like Vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, fiber, calcium, potassium, and iron, with other antioxidants.
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Garcinia kola is a species of flowering plant in the clusiaceae or Guttiferae family. It is found in tropical moist lowland forest of Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Ghana, Gabon, Senegal, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
THE SEED AND HEALTH BENEFITS
The seeds are chewed by both rural and urban populations to suppress headaches, laryngitis, bronchitis, malaria, and gonorrhea according to Adebgoye et al., 2008 and sometimes for their typical astringent taste.
Consult your family physician before initiating bitter Kola treatment regimen.
The seed extract is used as a cure for various types of inflammation or liver cirrhosis, while dried ground kernels can be mixed with honey to prepare a traditional paste against cough (Adebisi, 2004).
The seeds can successfully substitute hops in brewing industry. The Bark of Garcinia kola is traditionally used in similar way to the seeds, mainly to cure abdominal pains and malaria , Ijomone et al., 2012.
Aside from its medicinal value, the bark serves in palm wine production. It is believed that the bark enhances flavor as well as alcohol content of the traditional beverage.
In Ghana and other Africa countries, the branches and roots of Garcinia kola are sold in bundles as an essential source of chewing sticks used for dental hygiene (Blay, 2004).
Leaves of bitter kola are occasionally prepared as an infusion to cure fever.
CHEMICAL CONTENT AND HEALTH BENEFITS
According to Stevens 2018, the kernel contains a wide range of useful phytochemicals, such as tannins and flavonoids.
Among these compounds, the biflavonoid kolaviron complex holds neuro-protective, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and many other assets favorable to human health (Usunomena, 2012).
The most abundant phytochemicals in Garcinia kola seeds are flavonoids, Saponins, Tannins, Phenols, Glycosides, and Alkaloids,.
Even though anti-nutrients such as oxalate and phytate were found in Garcinia Kola, the seeds are safe for consumption and there are no reports on harmful overdosing so far.
The compounds, Flavonoids are low molecular weight compounds known as natural antioxidants, having an ability to scavenge free radicals and transform them into harmless molecules as well as to impact various aspects of immune cell activation for the human body.
The compounds play a useful role in protecting the central nervous system against oxidative, excitotoxic stresses and work as anti-tumor agents
According to Nwaehujor et al., 2015, kolaviron possess anti-malarial and wound healing properties.
Therapeutic potential of kolaviron was shown in treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (Kalu, 2016).
Kolaviron possesses antinociceptive (sedative) and anti-inflammatory activities, both centrally and peripherally, which justifies its folkloric use to relieve pain and inflammation according to Ibironke and Fasanmade 2015.
the seed extract were also able to stop growth of Ebola virus in laboratory trials (Iwu, 1993).
The antimicrobial properties of Garcinia kola are attributed to benzophenones and flavanones.
Bitter kola isn’t just useful for treating cough, malaria, inflammation, abdominal pains and others; it can also be effective for individuals suffering from type two (2) diabetes as a means of keeping their blood glucose levels stable.
Studies found that the seeds are capable of reducing elevated blood glucose levels, making it model for both treatment of type 2 diabetes as well as any complications that can arise from the condition.