Sunday, January 14, 2024




As science advances and disease prevention becomes the norm rather than the exception, experts all over the world are examining the various food categories available to mankind, with the aim of identifying the health-giving properties inherent in each, and developing them in supplement forms.

Called food supplements — as opposed to synthetic multivitamins — they help in keeping sicknesses at bay, unlike the medicines of yore that are mostly indicated in the treatment of diseases.

Modern medical trends, physicians say, now tend towards disease prevention through foods, hence the often quoted words of the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, who admonished, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

The majority of people who wish to eat healthy may also miss out on the fact that cooking sometimes destroys or reduces certain elements that should nourish the body. Nutritionists say while some foods are better eaten cooked, some — such as fruits and certain vegetables — are better eaten raw in order to make us get the most of each nutrient.

Again, some plant-based foods that may also serve as snacks or occasional foods have a lot they can achieve for mankind in the hands of seasoned scientists.

Such is the bitter kola, botanically called garcinia kola (orogbo in Yoruba), which has become a household name in the prevention and treatment of ailments such as arthritis, reduction of eye pressure, treating hangover and improving lung function.

According to a Professor of Pharmacognosy, Maurice Iwu, who is also the Chief Executive Director of Bioresources Development Group — a research-based outfit that has developed many medicinal African plants into viable dietary supplements marketed under the aegis of Intercedd Health Products — the traditional use of plants for medicinal purposes serve specific functions, either in disease prevention or treatment, hence the global recourse to plant-based medicines.

He says plant-based supplements are referred to as nutraceuticals; that is “substances that may be considered food or part of a food and provide medical or health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of diseases.”

One of such is the bitter kola, which has been developed into a product called the Cold Cap.

Generally used as a social snack and offered to guests in some cultural settings, bitter kola has been indicated in the treatment of laryngitis, general inflammation, bronchitis, viral infections and diabetes.

Iwu says the kola, when processed into food supplement, also serves as rejuvenating agent and general antidotes for certain conditions.

Improved respiratory function

Indeed, a study published in The Internet Journal of Pulmonary Medicine and authored by Mr. David Ofusori of the Igbinedion University, states that “garcinia kola improved respiratory function after 28 days of use of a garcinia extract on laboratory rats.”

Ofusori and his team depose that bitter kola works by dilating the alveolar ducts and sacs in the lungs by improving the strength of the fibres in the lung tissue.

Indeed, users say they have had lasting relief from chesty coughs by merely eating a lobe of bitter kola.

Bitter kola aficionado, Mrs. Tokunbo Benson, says the first time a friend advised her to chew the bitter kola when she saw her cough endlessly, she doubted its efficacy but tried it anyway. That was after she had taken an assortment of cough mixtures that didn’t seem to have any positive effect on the condition. Such is the power of bitter kola.

Iwu confirms that “Bitter kola is a food supplement and an anti-infective agent in the management of cold, bronchitis and reduction of congestion of the upper respiratory tract.”

He says since many people may not be able to withstand the bitter taste of the kola, having it in food supplement form without any form of unnatural enhancement makes it durable for use at all times.

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