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What is Kola Nuts?


The kola nuts belong to the family of trees referred to as Malvaceae made up of about 125 species. They grow abundantly in the tropical rainforests in Africa, most especially West Africa and some East African countries. They also grow in the humid tropical parts of the world. The trees are evergreen and may grow up to 65 feet high. Certain species are cultivated in Brazil, Indonesia, and Jamaica.

Kola nuts have bitter taste that needs getting used to. Kola nuts have many biochemical contents but most especially caffeine. They also contain small amounts of carbohydrates, fat, sugar, and many other biochemical substances in small amounts. Kola nuts are known to posses fat burning property.

Uses of Kola nuts:
Weight Loss: Kola nuts are incorporated in some formula used for weight loss.

Chewing: Kola nuts are chewed on individual basis or in group settings for socialization. They are chewed for their stimulating and euphoric properties. Kola nuts are also chewed as aphrodisiac. Nowadays, young educated, urban city dwellers in West Africa tend to frown and look down on kola nut chewing.

Kola nuts induce excessive spitting and some species of kola nuts stain the teeth red. It is therefore regarded as a filthy habit to chew kola nuts.

Building Industry:
The stem of the trees are used in the building industry.

Other uses:
for the tree include, making furniture, canoes for fishing, transportation, and carvings.

Medical Uses:
In Africa, the pods of the kola nuts have been used for centuries to ease labor pain. Kola nuts are chewed to relieve hangover, diarrhea, and nausea. The bark of the tree and the seeds are dried, powdered separately and sprinkled on open wounds to enhance healing.

The roots are chewed to clean the teeth and to prevent bad breath. Chewing kola nuts induces gastric juice secretion, hence kola nuts are chewed as an appetizer before meals. Kola nuts have also been used to treat asthma and whooping cough.

Culinary Use:
Some species of kola nuts are used as spices to enhance the taste of food. Kola nuts have been claimed to purify water for cooking and drinking.

Soft Drink and Wine Industry:
In West and East Africa, West Indies, particularly Jamaica, South America, particularly Brazil, and Indonesia, kola nuts are important ingredients in some soft drinks and wine. Even in the United States of America, the original Coca Kola drinks contain kola nuts. However, substitute flavors are currently being used instead of kola nuts.

Adverse Effects:
Chewing kola nuts has been known to raise blood pressure and body temperature. It increases respiratory rates. Frequent chewing of certain species of kola nuts color the teeth red. Excessive chewing of kola nuts has also been linked to oral cancer in frequent users.

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