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Kola nut (Cola acuminata)

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Also listed as: Cola acuminata, Cola nitida, Cola nut
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Alba, alkaloids, amic acid, amine, amino acid, antioxidant, ash, bitter kola, bizzy nut, boron, caffeine, catechin, caustic potash (potassium hydroxide), chlorogenic acid, Cola acuminata, Cola acuminate, Cola anomala, Cola nitida, cola seeds, Cola vera, crude fat, cystine dimethylamine, epicatechin, ethylamine, Garcinia kolanut extracts, glut piperidine, glutamic acid, gooroo nut, gurru nuts, isobutylamine, isopentylamine, Kola acuminate, kola mixture, kola nut, kola seeds, kolanin, manganese carbohydrate, methylamine, multicotyledonous phosphorus, phenols, phosphorus, polyphenol, potassium, procyanidin B-1, procyanidin B-2, pyrrolidine, quinic acid, tannic acid, tannin, theobromine, ubra, valine.
  • Combination products: FastOne® (containing kola nut, grape, green tea, and Ginkgo biloba).

Background
  • Kola nut is available as several different species from trees growing in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The species Cola vera is often preferred for its medicinal uses.
  • Kola nut is traditionally used as a caffeine stimulant and is a common additive to American and European soft drinks. It is thought to enhance alertness and physical energy, elevate mood, increase tactile sensitivity, and suppress appetite. It may also increase body temperature, blood pressure, and respiratory rate.
  • Preliminary results suggest that kola nut may encourage weight loss. However, the available clinical information on kola nut is limited.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


Preliminary research has looked into the weight loss effects of kola nut with ma huang. This herbal combination was found to reduce weight, body fat, and cholesterol. However, more research is needed before conclusions can be made.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Appetite suppressant, asthma, astringent (causes contraction of body tissues), cardiotonic (promotes heart health), depression, diarrhea, diuretic (promotes urination), dyspepsia (inflammation of the stomach lining), energy, gastrointestinal conditions (stomach disorders), headache, hypertension (high blood pressure), infertility, migraine headache, saliva stimulant, seasickness, sexual function/impotence, skin conditions, snakebites, tonic (increases tone), whooping cough, wrinkle prevention.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

  • According to anecdotal information, the recommended daily dose for kola nut is 1-3 grams in the form of a decoction, liquid extract, or tincture.
  • A liquid extract containing 2-6 grams of kola nut has been given by mouth daily.
  • A tincture containing 10-30 grams kola nut has been given by mouth daily.
  • Powdered kola nut leaves, given in the form of a decoction made from boiling 1-2 teaspoons in 1 cup of water, have been taken by mouth three times daily. A liquid extract in a 1:1 solution of 60% alcohol has been taken by mouth three times daily. A tincture in a 1:5 solution of 60% alcohol containing 1-4 milliliters of powdered leaves has been taken by mouth three times daily.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for kola nut in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in people who are allergic or sensitive to kola nut, its parts, or members of the Sterculiaceae family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Kola nut is likely safe when used as a flavoring agent in food.
  • Tyramine- or tryptophan-containing foods may cause dangerously high blood pressure when taken at the same time as agents that have properties similar to monoamine oxidase inhibitor drugs (MAOIs). These include protein foods that have been aged or preserved. Specific examples of such foods are anchovies, avocados, bananas, bean curd, beer (alcohol-free or reduced-alcohol), caffeine (large amounts), caviar, champagne, cheeses (particularly aged, processed, or strong varieties), chocolate, dry sausage or salami or bologna, fava beans, figs, herring (pickled), liver (particularly chicken), meat tenderizers, papaya, protein extracts or powder, raisins, shrimp paste, sour cream, soy sauce, wine (particularly chianti), yeast extracts, and yogurt.
  • Use cautiously in people who are taking antipyrine (a pain and fever reducer), calcium channel blockers, carbamazepine, central nervous system (CNS) depressants or stimulants, corticosteroids, diuretics (drugs that increase urination), hormonal agents, muscle relaxants, nitrates, phosphorus-containing agents, and potassium-increasing agents.
  • Use cautiously in people with anxiety, gastritis, glaucoma, hormone-sensitive conditions, peptic ulcers, restlessness, or sleep disorders.
  • Avoid in people with a history of heart conditions, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, insomnia, seizures, or stroke.
  • Avoid in children. Avoid in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Avoid using for long periods of time, due to the increased risk of mouth and stomach cancers.
  • Kola nut may cause anxiety, bone loss, changes in behavior, dyspepsia (upset stomach), increased blood pressure, increased eye pressure, increased secretion of stomach acid, inflammation in the stomach lining, insomnia, loss of appetite, mouth blisters, nervousness, peptic ulcers, retina inflammation, skin discoloration, sleep problems, stomach problems, and tremors.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Avoid using during pregnancy or lactation, due to a lack of scientific evidence on the use of kola nut during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Tyramine- or tryptophan-containing foods may cause dangerously high blood pressure when taken at the same time as agents that have properties similar to monoamine oxidase inhibitor drugs (MAOIs). These include protein foods that have been aged or preserved. Specific examples of such foods are anchovies, avocados, bananas, bean curd, beer (alcohol-free or reduced-alcohol), caffeine (large amounts), caviar, champagne, cheeses (particularly aged, processed, or strong varieties), chocolate, dry sausage or salami or bologna, fava beans, figs, herring (pickled), liver (particularly chicken), meat tenderizers, papaya, protein extracts or powder, raisins, shrimp paste, sour cream, soy sauce, wine (particularly chianti), yeast extracts, and yogurt.
  • Kola nut may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be decreased in the blood and reduce the intended effects. People taking any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
  • Kola nut may also interact with alcohol, antacids, anticancer drugs, antidepressants, antiobesity drugs, antipyrine (a pain and fever reducer), blood pressure-lowering drugs, calcium channel blockers, carbamazepine, central nervous system (CNS) depressants or stimulants, corticosteroids, diuretics (drugs that increase urination), fertility drugs, glaucoma drugs, heart health drugs, hormonal agents, nitrates, phosphorus-containing drugs, potassium salts, salicylates, and skeletal muscle relaxants.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Tyramine- or tryptophan-containing foods may cause dangerously high blood pressure when taken at the same time as agents that have properties similar to monoamine oxidase inhibitor drugs (MAOIs). These include protein foods that have been aged or preserved. Specific examples of such foods are anchovies, avocados, bananas, bean curd, beer (alcohol-free or reduced-alcohol), caffeine (large amounts), caviar, champagne, cheeses (particularly aged, processed, or strong varieties), chocolate, dry sausage or salami or bologna, fava beans, figs, herring (pickled), liver (particularly chicken), meat tenderizers, papaya, protein extracts or powder, raisins, shrimp paste, sour cream, soy sauce, wine (particularly chianti), yeast extracts, and yogurt.
  • Kola nut may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of other herbs or supplements may become too low in the blood. It may also alter the effects that other herbs or supplements potentially may have on the P450 system.
  • Kola nut may also interact with antacids, anticancer herbs and supplements, antidepressant herbs and supplements, antiobesity herbs and supplements, antioxidants, blood pressure-lowering herbs and supplements, diuretics (agents that increase urination), herbs and supplements that may affect eye pressure, herbs and supplements that may contain salicylates, herbs and supplements that may enhance fertility, herbs and supplements that may maintain heart health, hormonal herbs and supplements, ma huang, muscle relaxants, phosphorus, potassium, sedatives, and stimulants.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
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  2. Benie T, Duval J, and Thieulant ML. Effects of some traditional plant extracts on rat oestrous cycle compared with Clomid. Phytother.Res 2003;17(7):748-755.
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  7. Kamatenesi-Mugisha M. and Oryem-Origa H. Traditional herbal remedies used in the management of sexual impotence and erectile dysfunction in western Uganda. Afr Health Sci 2005;5(1):40-49.
  8. Kola-Nut for Seasickness. Science 1890;16(389):38.
  9. Lans CA. Ethnomedicines used in Trinidad and Tobago for urinary problems and diabetes mellitus. J Ethnobiol.Ethnomed. 2006;2:45.
  10. Lans C. Ethnomedicines used in Trinidad and Tobago for reproductive problems. J Ethnobiol.Ethnomed. 2007;3:13.
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  12. Mitani H, Ryu A., Suzuki T, et al. Topical application of plant extracts containing xanthine derivatives can prevent UV-induced wrinkle formation in hairless mice. Photodermatol.Photoimmunol.Photomed. 2007;23(2-3):86-94.
  13. Morton JF. Widespread tannin intake via stimulants and masticatories, especially guarana, kola nut, betel vine, and accessories. Basic Life Sci 1992;59:739-765.
  14. Nickalls RWD. W. F. Daniell (1817-1865) and the discovery that cola nuts contain caffeine. Pharmaceutical Journal (England) 1986;236:401-402.
  15. Oludemokun AA, Mcdonald D. Effects of Temperature and Relative Humidity on Mold Deterioration of Stored Kola Nuts, Cola-Nitida. Plant Disease Reporter.1976;60(12):1008-1010.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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