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Beat hangover, food poisoning this Yuletide with bitter kola




Christmas is here again! The excitement is palpable. Preparations are almost concluded and most times the feasting starts today, the eve of the Yuletide. The season is associated with over indulgence in alcohol, ‘bad’ diets, hangover and food poisoning.

But scientists suggest that having bitter kola as a companion and working out regularly can ameliorate the negative impacts and even lower blood pressure, ulcer and boost sperm count. In fact they say bitter kola can detoxify and protect the liver from any alcohol and food poisoning effects.

How? Scientists have identified bitter kola as a potential antimicrobial and detoxifier. The antibacterial, antiviral, detoxifying and cleansing properties is responsible for being used widely in the treatment of various diseases and infections.

Commonly called bitter kola, false kola and male cola, Garcinia kola belongs to the plant family Clusiaceae. In Nigeria, it is called edun in Bini; efiari in Efik; efiat in Ibibio; akilu, aki-inu or ogolu in Igbo; and okan in Ijaw.

Pharmacological studies on bitter kola published in Handbook of African Medicinal Plants (Second Edition) by a consultant pharmacognocist, Prof. Maurice M. Iwu, noted: “Garcinia kola has been shown to posses remarkable antihepatotoxic activity against a variety of experimental hepatotoxins, including carbon tetrachloride, 2-acetryl-aminofluorene, paracetamol, and galactosamine, and protection against the accumulation of heavy metals in the liver.

“Chronic ingestion of Garcinia kola seeds caused inhibition of gastrointestinal motility and weight reduction and prevented castor oil-induced diarrhea in rats. Other activities of the biflavonoid mixture include those involving anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antidiabetic, and antiviral properties. The antiviral activity is quite broad and showed remarkable inhibitory effects against a variety of viruses, including Toro and Pichinde viruses, sandfly fever, influenza A, Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis, and ebola.

“… Kolaviron, the mixture of bioflavonoids, benzophenones, and chromanols, as well as other phenolic compounds in Garcinia, possesses strong antioxidant activities. Several reports on the experimental validation of the antioxidant properties of Garcinia are due essentially to kolaviron…. Kolaviron, the mixture of biflavonoids, benzophenones and chromanols, and related phenolic compounds in Garcinia kola possesses strong antioxidant activities.

“…It is intriguing that bioflavonoids of Garcinia kola are capable of modulating almost any physiological anomaly. The answer perhaps lies in the role of flavonoids in the evolutionary course of human beings. Humans, over many millennia, have adapted to a diet, which is favourable for their survival and the flavonoid-like structures were part of the physiological system.”

Iwu, who is also the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bioresources Development Group and Intercedd Health Products (IHP). The research group has formulated bitter kola into capsules and marketed worldwide as Garcinia IHP- ‘The Cold Cap’.

Until now, Garcinia kola is used extensively in West African traditional medicine for the treatment of laryngitis, general inflammation, bronchitis, viral infections and diabetes. It has also been shown to a rejuvenating agent, adptogen and general antidote.

According to the Handbook of African Medicinal Plants, the major indications for bitter kola include:
Cold remedy

Very effective in managing symptoms of cold and sore throat, pains, cough, nasal congestion and help coagulate phlegm.

It is used in many tropical countries to fight infectious diseases. It has positive effect on pains, bacteria and viruses.

Because of its cleansing effects on the liver, gall bladder and the entire body system, it reduces the absorption of toxins.

Perhaps the greatest value of bitter kola extract is prevention and management of diabetic complications of the eye because of it activity on aldose reductase.

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties make the body resistant to infections.

Increasing blood supply to the core area in men who have hardening of the arteries restores impotence.


It prevents the alcoholic induced hangover.

Another study published in African Journal of Biochemistry Research has validated the hepatoprotective role of bitter kola.

The study, titled “Hepatoprotective role of Garcinia kola (Heckel) nut extract on methamphetamine: Induced neurotoxicity in mice” was published by Gabriel Oze, Iheanyi Okoro, Austin Obi and Polycarp Nwoha from the Institute of Neuroscience and Biomedical Research, College of Medicine, Imo State University, Owerri, Imo State.

The researchers wrote: “The hepatoprotective effect of aqueous extract of Garcinia kola (AEGK) was studied in 60 mice of mixed sexes. The animals were divided into six groups of 10 mice each. Group I received normal saline, groups
II and III got 100 and 200 mg/kg AEGK (orally), respectively. Group IV received 10-mg/kg methamphetamine (MAM) (s.c.) only. Groups V and VI got 100 and 200 mg/kg of AEGK respectively, before 10-mg/kg methamphetamine which was used to induce neurotoxicity.

“The serum levels of AST, ALT, ALP, total bilirubin and its conjugated metabolite were used to assess liver damage. Fifty percent of the animals in group IV died. 30 per cent died in group V and none in group VI after 10 – 30 min interval of MAM administration. The serum levels of some of the marker enzymes and bilirubin were decreased significantly in groups VI at 200 mg/kg of AEGK (P < 0.05). The Blood glucose level increased transiently in the MAM treated groups. There was a slight rise in serum WBC after an initial fall at 100 mg/kg AEGK. The results suggest a possible hepatoprotective potential of AEGK. This may justify their local use in the management of some hepatic dysfunction and stress-related conditions.”

Yet another study published in Journal of Medicine and Food evaluated the “Effect of kolaviron, a biflavonoid complex from Garcinia kola seeds, on ethanol-induced oxidative stress in liver of adult wistar rats.”

Adaramoye O.A., Awogbindin I., and Okusaga J.O. from the Department of Biochemistry, University of Ibadan, Oyo State, wrote: “The role of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of alcoholic diseases in the liver is well documented. Kolaviron (KV), a biflavonoid complex from Garcinia kola seeds, possesses a variety of biological activities, including antioxidant. Our aim was to investigate in vivo whether KV may attenuate oxidative stress in liver of Wistar albino rats following chronic ethanol administration. Thirty-six male Wistar albino rats were randomly divided into six groups. Administering 7.5 per cent or 45 per cent ethanol at 3 g/kg of body weight daily for eight weeks induced toxicity. Rats were treated with KV at 200 mg/kg of body weight for the same duration. Treatment was by oral gavage…”

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