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What is Kola Nut?

written by: Diana Cooper • edited by: Lisa Lambson • updated: 8/18/2010

What is kola nut? In this article, you will learn the health benefits of kola nut, possible side effects, and precautions that should be taken.

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    Kola Nut

    Kola Nut What is kola nut? The kola nut (or cola nut) is a seed of the kola tree. The tree is native to western and central Africa and can grow up to 40 feet tall. One tribe in Nigeria (the Igbo) consider it to be the first tree and fruit on earth. The flowers are white to yellow with a red to purple tinge and the seeds (about the size of a walnut) are white and bitter. When the seeds dry, they turn to a reddish-brown color and have almost no taste. In many African countries, it is used as part of cultural and social ceremonies and as medicine.

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    Constituents

    Kola nut has high amounts of caffeine and contains another stimulant (found in chocolate) called theobromine. It also contains starch, sugar, protein, fat, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, and tannins.

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    Benefits

    What is kola nut good for? The following are some health benefits of kola nut:

    Stimulant

    Because of the high amounts of caffeine (which stimulates the heart, central nervous system, and muscles), kola nut can help fight fatigue. In fact, because it is not addictive or leads to depression, the Journal of the American Medical Association recommends kola nut over other stimulants.

    Gastrointestinal

    It can benefit some gastrointestinal problems, including dysentery and atonic (lack of muscle tone) diarrhea. It also stimulates gastric acid production and can help aid digestion.

    Migraines

    The stimulants in kola nut dilate vessels and increase blood flow. Increasing blood flow to the head can help treat migraine headaches.

    Asthma

    It may help people with asthma. It acts as a bronchodilator and, according to a study published in the Journal of American Medicine, may decrease the length of an attack.

    Cuts and Scrapes

    Externally, kola nut can be used in a poultice to treat cuts and scrapes.

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    Side Effects

    The high amounts of caffeine in kola nut can cause stomach irritation, increased heart rate, nervousness, and restlessness. Large amounts can cause anxiety, headache, agitation, irregular heartbeats, and ringing in the ears. Large amounts and/or heavy use has been associated with bone loss. Chewing the nuts may increase ones risk of mouth and gastrointestinal cancer.

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    Precautions

    Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid use.

    People taking medications should consult with their health care provider before taking.

    People with a medical condition (including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart conditions, osteoporosis, glaucoma, and bleeding disorders) should consult with their health care provider before using.

    Kola nut should not be taken at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.

    Kola nut should not be used for long periods of time.

    Keep away from domestic animals.

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    Preparations

    Kola nut comes in the form of extract, powder, and capsules. Fresh nuts are difficult to find in areas where they do not grow.

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    Sources Used

    Healthline: Kola Nut - http://www.healthline.com/galecontent/kola-nut

    Mountain Rose Herbs: Kola Nut and Powder Profile - http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/learn/kola_nut.php

    Web MD: Cola Nut - http://women.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-937-COLA+NUT.aspx?activeIngredientId=937&activeIngredientName=COLA+NUT&source=3

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    Photo Credit

    Image courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Koeh-190.jpg

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    Disclaimer

    Please read this disclaimer regarding the information contained within this article.


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