Cola nuts are harvested from the evergreen Kola tree. The cola tree has glossy, pointed leaves and fruits containing up to 10 seeds follow lobed cream flowers, usually with purple-red markings. This must not be confused with Gotu kola - which is a herb containing no caffeine nor any heart stimulating effects.
Cola nuts are used internally as an ingredient for tonics, treating mental and physical exhaustion, low energy and loss of appetite. Since it has astringent properties, it is also used to treat diarrhea. It can be chewed fresh, used in tinctures and extracts or made into a hot energy drink. The astringent effect of this herb can be useful in treating wounds and inflammations.
Cola nitida A. Chev. (Sterculiaceae).
Cola acuminata Schott & Endl. and related species
Synonyms and Part Used
Cola Seed, Guru Nut, Kola Nut.
Sterculia acuminata Beauv.
Xanthine–types. Caffeine (0.6–3.0%), theobromine (up to 0.1%).
Condensed type, catechins.
Betaine, cellulose, enzyme, fats, a glucoside, protein, red pigment and sugars.
Cola is listed by the Council of Europe as a natural source of food flavouring.Cola is commonly used in foods.
Cola is stated to possess central nervous system stimulant, thymoleptic, antidepressant, diuretic, cardioactive and antidiarrhoeal properties. It has been used for depressive states, melancholy, atony, exhaustion, dysentery, atonic diarrhoea, anorexia, migraine and specifically for depressive states associated with general muscular weakness.
Powdered cotyledons : 1–3 g or by decoction three times daily.
Liquid Extract of Kola : 0.6–1.2 mL (1 : 1 in 60% alcohol).
Tincture of Kola : 1–4 mL (1 : 5 in 60% alcohol).
The xanthine constituents, caffeine and theobromine, are the active principles in cola. The pharmacological properties of caffeine are well documented and include stimulation of the central nervous system, respiratory system and skeletal muscle, cardiac stimulation, coronary dilatation, smooth muscle relaxation and diuresis.Cola-containing beverages are stated to provide active doses of caffeine.
Side–effects commonly associated with xanthine– containing beverages include sleeplessness, anxiety, tremor,palpitations and withdrawal headache.
Consumption of cola should be restricted in individuals with hypertension or cardiac disorders, because of the caffeine content.
Pregnancy and lactation
It is generally recommended that caffeine consumption should be restricted during pregnancy, although conflicting reports have been documented regarding the association between birth defects and caffeine consumption. In view of this, excessive consumption of cola during pregnancy should be avoided. Caffeine is excreted in breast milk, but at concentrations too low to represent a hazard to breastfed infants.As with all xanthine–containing beverages,excessive consumption of cola by lactating mothers should be avoided.
The principal active constituent in cola is caffeine. The reputed herbal uses of cola can be attributed to the actions of caffeine, and precautions associated with other xanthine-containing beverages are applicable to cola.