Bitter kola, also known as bitter cola or Garcinia Kola, is a plant found Majorly in Central and Western Africa that has long been valued for its medicinal properties.
Research has shown that bitter kola has numerous benefits to human development and healthy living as a result of its anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties
iBrandTV gathered Nigerians agreed on the use of bitter kola for its medicinal and economic value.
Tribe in Nigeria has different name for the plant. In Igbo land it’s called Aki ilu, orogbo in Yorubaland and oje in Bokyi, edun or efiari in Efik, efrie in Ejagham-Ekin, cida goro in Hausa, efiat in Ibibio, emiale in Icheve, igoligo in Idoma, akaan in Ijo-Izon, okain in Isekiri.
Bitter kola has been used over the years to fight infections from the common cold to hepatitis. A 2018 study showed that bitter kola can help combat coughs, bacterial infections, and viral infections. Eating bitter kola when an infection starts may help fight the infection and make you feel better more quickly.
Bitter kola contrary to what some may believe, actually has been said to be helpful and useful in and for pregnant women, as it helps in combating nausea and vomiting, making the uterus healthier, supplies strength to the expectant mother and normalizes circulation of blood also.
Kola is an important economic cash crop to a significant proportion of Nigerian population who are involved in kola farming, trading and industrial utilization.
The cost of bitter Kola in the international market is between $17 and $25 per kg. That transforms into well over $17,000/MT. The local cost of bitter kola ranges between N600 to N800 per kg, depending on the point of purchase.
For the 70-72kg (one basket) it will not cost more than N50, 000, while the wrappers and carton won’t cost more than N10, 000, bringing the total cost price or capital to about N60, 000.
A Pharmacist in Akwa, Pharm Peter Obi, said: “Bitter Kola”, commonly known as ” Aki ilu” in Igbo land, is cherished for its medicinal properties.
“We use the kola at special social engagements like bride price , blessing, child naming, conflict resolution and wedding ceremonies,” he said .
Obi added that bitter kola is a fruit with a handful elements that gives it a unique characteristic, and scientifically its caffeine and theobromine content account for some of its benefits which includes boost in energy levels.
He added that it also helps in digestion, boost in metabolism, increase in circulation and has antibacterial properties against infections.
Obi said that it is also used as an economic tree that yields so much money and its healing benefits cannot be dismissed.
A lecture in the department of pharmacy at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Mrs Chinelo Ezejiegu, said that bitter kola had a business value and advised the public to trade in Bitter Kola for its financial returns.
Ezejiegu, however, warned that if not properly preserved, its monetary value could reduce because of breakages and possibly lead to a huge loss.
She added that bitter kola was used as an anti-diabetes therapy because the seed is believed to posses the ability to lower blood glucose and by extension be a potential treatment for diabetes melitus.
“ Studies have shown that saponin extract from garcinia roots has anti diabetic activity with potent cardio protective effects,” she said
Ezejiegu also identified bitter kola as having some anti-microbial properties, which influences multiple regulatory system in the body including the immune system, just as its antibacterial and anti fungal properties have also been confirmed.
She said that its medical value were numerous, citing it as a cold remedy because it possess the ability to enlarge the alveolar sac and duct.
“This fruit is regarded as a wonder plant because all most all parts of plant, the bark, leaves, seed and root, have been found to be medicinal significance.
“ The plant is rich in sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and many phytonutrients, both the fresh and dry are used as spices and condiments, “she said.
Some traders interviewed at Nkwo Enugwu-Ukwu, Afor Nawfia Markets, in Njikoka Local Government Area reported the availability of bitter kola throughout the Eastern part of the country .
Mrs Uju Ekwo, a seller of the product, identified Nnobi, Nnewi,Osumenyi, Umunze as some communities in Anambra that harvested large quantities of Bitter Kola.
Another trader, Mrs. Martha Ube, who had been in the business for the past 28 years, spoke of its numerous medicinal benefits, in addition to being a repellent for dangerous reptiles such as snakes, insects, among others.
Mr Chiadi Okeke, a community leader, said that because it comes in different sizes, bitter kola was usually sold based on its size which can go for as much as N15,000 for eight kilogrammes.
Okeke said that the normal size of the fruit was sold for N10,000, while a full bag of big seed could fetch N115,000, while the small seed was sold for N90,000.