Bitter kola (also known as Garcinia kola) is cultivated from a flowering plant that is native to sub-tropical or tropical regions of Africa.
Bitter kola is used traditionally to treat a wide variety of ailments by African medicine men. Most of the plant parts can be used for medicinal purposes, but the nuts are the most commonly eaten part.
Here are 10 uses of bitter kola:
1. Bitter Kola Can Improve Your Lung Function
Bitter kola has been used to successfully treat the common cold and its associated symptoms for centuries.
A study conducted in 2009 in the Internet Journal of Pulmonary Medicine concluded that bitter kola improved the respiratory function of mice after 28 days of usage.
The study found that bitter kola can dilate the alveolar ducts and sacs within the lungs by strengthening the fibers in the lung tissue. This, in turn, leads to healthier overall lung functioning and is a large part of why bitter kola is so effective at treating cold symptoms.
It is believed that the reason bitter kola has such a beneficial effect on the lungs is due to its potent antioxidant content, which leads us directly into the next point.
2. Bitter Kola Is Excellent Source of Anti-oxidants
Bitter kola gains many of its tremendous health benefits thanks to its high antioxidant content. The phytochemical that has been extracted from the bitter kola seed is known as kolaviron, a Garcinia bioflavonoid.
Kolaviron contains many properties that are essential for optimal health. It contains antioxidant, antidiabetic, antigenotoxic, and hepatoprotective properties. What this means in basic terms is that bitter kola is extremely useful when it comes to protecting your cells from oxidative damage.
Our bodies are bombarded with external stressors on an ongoing, daily basis. This causes the formation of harmful free radicals that cause oxidative damage, which in turn can lead to inflammation and the development of several types of chronic diseases.
Antioxidants play a vital role in defending against the damage caused by these free radicals, which in turn directly helps to boost your immune system and protect your body from disease.
3. Bitter Kola Can Assist the Treatment of HIV
The prevalence of HIV in many African nations is still incredibly high. In 2016 alone, there were 19.4 million people living with the virus with 790,000 new infections and 420,000 deaths related to AIDS.
The HIV virus produces free radicals that have been extensively linked with tissue damage. From the point above, antioxidants are important in fighting against free radical damage. Research has revealed that a deficiency in antioxidants has led to more rapid progression of the HIV disease.
To counter this effect, researchers have been increasingly looking into vitamins A, C, and E as supportive treatment for HIV patients in an effort to suppress viral loads and helping to restore immune function.
4. Bitter Kola Can Help Relieve Pain In Arthritis
Taking bitter kola is a highly effective way in which you can lower inflammation within your body.
The antioxidant kolaviron is responsible for this — it contains potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Along with harmful free radicals, inflammation is one of the leading causes of chronic diseases. The two are intricately linked — the oxidative damage caused by the free radicals contributes to inflammation in your body, which in turn contributes to the development of diseases like cancer and diabetes.
An added side benefit of bitter kola lowering inflammation is that it’s also quite useful when it comes to relieving the pain caused by arthritis. It helps to reduce the inflammation, swelling, joint pain, and even helps with increasing movement around the joints.
5. Bitter Kola Is Effective Cold Remedy
The anti-oxidant benefits of bitter kola seemingly go on and on. Bitter kola is an incredibly effective remedy for conditions like bronchitis, cough, cold, and headaches.
There are two reasons for this: the antioxidant content and the antimicrobial properties. Both of these factors combine to make bitter kola an excellent all-natural remedy for when you’re feeling a little bit under the weather.
6. Bitter Kola Can Assist Your Weight Loss Efforts
Bitter kola is known to be quite useful as an appetite suppressant. It’s also capable of stimulating thirst, encouraging an increased consumption of water. And of course, if you’re drinking more water throughout the day, you’ll also naturally be boosting your metabolism as well.
These two factors combine to make bitter kola a useful tool to include in your repertoire if you’re focusing on losing any unwanted pounds.
7. Bitter Kola Can Improve Male Sexual Health
The bitter kola seed has some incredibly beneficial properties when it comes to the sexual and reproductive health of men.
These benefits are again due to the kolaviron content of the nut, which has been shown to boost prostate health, along with increasing sperm quality and quantity. [As noted in the following two studies:
The increased sperm counts help to promote male fertility, which can be useful for those of you out there looking into adding a little one to your family.
Not only that, but bitter kola can actually help to boost libido in men as well. It’s a potent aphrodisiac and studies have shown it can actually temporarily boost testosterone levels.
8.Bitter Kola Can Help Treat & Prevent Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a condition that affects the eyes, causing your optic nerves to weaken over time, potentially leading to partial or complete blindness.
The disease progresses quite rapidly, and if left untreated, can lead to loss of vision within only a few years. One of the leading causes of glaucoma is a buildup of pressure in the eye. This increased pressure, known as intraocular pressure, is what causes the damage to the optic nerve.
That’s where bitter kola comes into play, as it’s been shown to be capable of reducing eye pressure. An extract of Garcinia kola 0.5 per cent aqueous eye drops were tested in patients with primary open-angle glaucoma. The results were very interesting indeed — they found that the bitter kola solution significantly reduced intraocular pressure.
More research definitely needs to be done, but as it stands, it looks like bitter kola could soon surpass cannabis as an effective all-natural remedy for glaucoma.
9. Bitter Kola Can Be Used to Treat Malaria Symptoms
One of the traditional uses of bitter kola in Africa is a remedy for malaria symptoms. Malaria remains a lethal threat on the continent, as in 2015, Africa alone had 90% of global deaths attributed to the disease.
Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of the life threatening disease, despite the fact that it’s both completely preventable and curable.
Bitter kola has been found to be one form of effective treatment for the symptoms of malaria. It again all comes down to the antioxidant properties of the plant, as kolaviron possesses anti-malarial properties and can help protect against plasmodium infection.
10. Bitter Kola Can Help Balance Blood Sugar Levels
Bitter kola isn’t just useful for treating malaria. It is effective for individuals who have type2 diabetes to keep their blood glucose levels stable.
Studies have found that the seeds from the plant are capable of reducing elevated blood glucose levels. This makes it ideal for both treatment of type 2 diabetes as well as for any complications that can arise from the condition.
In addition to that, studies performed on rats who had type 1 diabetes found that bitter kola could actually prevent the cognitive and motor dysfunction that is typically associated with the disease. 
Possible Side Effects Associated of Bitter Kola
For the most part, consuming bitter kola nuts is completely safe.
With that being said, there have been reports of certain side effects that can occur due to bitter kola usage. As bitter kola does contain caffeine and can affect the central nervous system, most of the negative effects are felt by individuals who are sensitive to caffeine in general.
The most common side effects associated with bitter kola include:
If you experience symptoms such as hives or any other sign of an allergic reaction, you should immediately stop taking bitter kola and consult your doctor.