Kola

Kola

Kola nuts are the seeds produced by the kola tree, a tree that can reach a height of 10 to 15 m. Its leaves are oval with pointed tips, and dark green in colour. Its cream-coloured flowers are grouped into clusters, without petals or sepals. Its fruit is pods, woody follicles formed in a star shape, each containing 5 to 10 pinkish-white or green ovoid shaped seeds, the size of a pigeon egg (3 to 6 cm in diameter). These are called seeds, kola nuts, kola, cola or cola nuts. NB: Be careful not to confuse kola nuts with gotu kola, as they have different properties.

Latin name

Cola nitida (Vent.) Schott & Endl.

Origin

Africa.

Used part

The fruit.

Active components

Xanthine alkaloids (caffeine, theobromine, theophylline): they act as a stimulant on the nervous system.

Tannins: have an astringent effect.

Polyphenols: antioxidants.

Usage

Kola nuts have a place in traditional, cultural and religious spiritual practices in West Africa, particularly in Nigeria. They symbolise peace and friendship. These nuts are chewed individually or in a social setting. At the end of the 1800s, an American pharmacist mixed cola extract, cocoa and sugar together with other ingredients and carbonated water, to invent the first cola soft drink. This drink has become one of the most popular drinks in the world. Traditionally, cola is used to strengthen vitality and remove the feeling of hunger, but also as an aphrodisiac and to treat morning sickness, migraines and irritation. 1-5 Today, cola nuts are used in cosmetics to combat wrinkles and to protect the skin. Cola helps to burn fat and can be used in slimming programmes.6

Bibliographical references

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