Cola Tree: Uses, benefits, and side effects

Cola Tree: Uses, benefits, and side effects

The kola tree is native to tropical West Africa, primarily in Nigeria and from Sierra Leone to Gabon. It is cultivated in the tropical regions of Asia and America, but also in West and Central Africa and Madagascar. Kola seeds come primarily from imports from Nigeria and West African countries.

Cola tree as medicine

The dried seed kernels, freed from the seed shell, are used as a drug (Colae semen). The seed coat can be removed in a number of ways: either by soaking the seeds in water and then peeling off the shell, or by drying the fresh seeds and washing off the torn shell.

Cola Tree: Typical Characteristics

Kola seeds can be obtained from the two parent plants mentioned, Cola nitida or Cola acuminata (VENT.) SCHOTT & ENDL. descended. Cola acuminata is a tree up to 20 m tall. The mighty crown of this species already unfolds 1-2 m above the ground, while the branching of Cola nitida begins only 5-10 m above the ground.

The leaves are large (15-25 cm long) and entire; the leaves of Cola nitida are narrower. The flowers usually arise directly from the tree trunk; they are yellowish-white, about 1.5-2.5 cm in diameter and grow in umbel-like inflorescences.

Fruits and seeds of the cola tree

The tree also bears star-shaped follicles – about 5-15 seeds with a white seed coat can be counted per fruit. After removing the seed coat, the seeds of Cola nitida disintegrate into two, the seeds of Cola acuminata into four irregular parts.

The dried seed kernels or pieces thereof are between 2 and 4 cm long in the drug, hard and red to dark brown in colour. An essential part of the pieces are the cotyledons, which are flat to concave on the inside and irregularly curved on the outside.

Kola seeds: smell and taste

Kola seeds give off a faint aromatic odor. The  taste  of kola seeds is bitter and astringent (“astringent”).

Cola – Application

Kola seeds are primarily used to treat mental and physical exhaustion. Animal experiments have also been able to demonstrate general stimulating, fat-reducing and movement-promoting effects. Kola seeds are also said to promote gastric acid production.

Kola seeds in food

Due to their caffeine content, preparations made from kola seeds are mainly used in the food and beverage industry for the production of beverages which, like other caffeine-containing drugs, have a stimulating effect. A popular example is the Coca Cola® lemonade.

Used in folk medicine and homeopathy

In folk medicine, kola seeds have been used as a stimulant for fatigue since the end of the 18th century.

In  homeopathy  , kola seeds are used, for example, to treat weakness and depression.

Constituents of kola seeds

The main active ingredient in kola seeds is the purine alkaloid caffeine with a proportion of 1.5-3%. Theobromine,  proteins , sugars and  minerals  are present in smaller amounts. Other components are phenols, which can form complexes with caffeine.

Cola tree: what indication?

The cola tree can be used medicinally in the following cases:

  • mental exhaustion
  • physical exhaustion
  • fatigue
  • fatigue
  • dejection
  • exhaustion

Cola – dosage

Kola seeds are taken in the form of powdered drugs or other forms of preparation. Extracts from kola seeds are part of many, especially liquid preparations such as Coca Cola®. There are currently no phytopharmaceuticals in Germany, in Austria there are a few preparations.

Cola tree : Maximale Dosis

Unless otherwise prescribed, the daily dose is 2-6 g kola seeds or 0.25-0.75 g kola extract, 2.5-7.5 g kola fluid extract, 10-30 g kola tincture or 60-180 g cola wine.

When cola preparations are inappropriate

There is no need to prepare tea, as kola seeds are not suitable for consumption in tea form.

Kola seed preparations should not be taken if you have gastric or  duodenal ulcers  ,  high blood pressure  or heart problems.

Kola seeds should be kept dry and protected from light.

Cola tree – Synonyme

German plant name: Colabaum
German synonyms of the plant: Not-Cola, Cola-Pflanze, Cola
Latin plant name: Cola nida oder
Cola acuminata (VENT.) SCHOTT & ENDL
German drug name: Kolasameen
German synonyms of the drug: Kolanuss, Gurunuss, Bissynuss, Ombenennuss
Latin drug name: Colle seed
English name: Cola, Kola, Nut tree, Abata cola
Plant family Latin: Sterculiaceae
Plant family German: sterculaceae


Cola tree – effect

Kola seeds have a stimulating effect, which can be attributed to the caffeine content   . They have a stimulating effect on the heart and central nervous system; in the heart, this is expressed, for example, by an increase in heart rate (positive chronotropy).

Other Effects of Kola Seeds

In patient studies, weak diuretic effects have been demonstrated. Some animal experiments also provided evidence that kola seeds promote gastric juice secretion. According to some authors, caffeine from cola extracts is absorbed more slowly than in its pure form.

Cola Side Effects

However, side effects can occur, especially in the case of overdose, hyperexcitability,  sleep disorders , nervous restlessness and stomach problems.

What interactions are there?

Simultaneous intake of psychostimulatory drugs or consumption of caffeinated beverages can lead to an increase in the effect of preparations made from kola seeds.


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