Traditional medicinal uses of bitter kola.

Bitter kola is a dicotyledonous plant belonging to the family of plants called Guttiferae. It is a perennial crop growing in the forest, distributed throughout West and Central Africa). Bitter kola is also fondly distributed in the forest zone of Sierra Leone, Ghana, Cameroon and other West African countries. In Nigeria, it is common in the South Western States and Edo State .It is a medium sized evergreen tree, about 15-17m tall and with a fairly narrow crown. The leaves are simple, 6-14cm long and 2-6cm across, shiny on both surfaces and spotted with resin glands. The small flowers are covered with short, red hairs. The fruit is a drupe of 5-10cm in diameter and weighs 30-50g. It is usually smooth and contains a yellow-red pulp. The fruit changes color during maturation from green to orange, and each fruit contains 1-4 seeds.
Garcinia kola has been referred to as a “wonder plant” because every part of it has been found to be of medicinal importance. It is also called bitter cola, male kola due to the reported aphrodisiac properties. It is commonly called “Orogbo” in Yoruba language,  Aku ilu‟ in Igbo language and „Namijin goro‟ in Hausa language.

The root of the plant is used as favorite bitter chew-sticks in West Africa. Stem bark is used in folklore remedies as a purgative among the natives of Eastern Nigeria and the latex is externally applied to fresh wounds to prevent sepsis, thereby assisting in wound healing. It is also popular among the people of Nigeria for nervous alertness and induction of insomnia. Bitter kola also known as garcinia kola is highly valued for medicinal use. This plant has been referred to as a wonder plant‟ because every part of it has been found to be of medicinal importance. The seeds are chewed as an aphrodisiac or used to cure cough, dysentery, chest colds, liver disorders, diarrhea, laryngitis, bronchitis, and gonorrhea .The seed is used to prevent and relieve colic; it can also be used to treat headache, stomach ache and gastritis. It has also been reported for the treatment of jaundice, high fever, and as purgative. In Sierra Leone, the roots and bark are taken as a tonic for sexual dysfunction in men. The bark is also added into palm wine to improve its potency. Traditional medicine practitioners in Nigeria, particularly in the Ogoni area use a decoction of bitter kola stem bark for the treatment of dysmenorrhoea, fever, inflammation and burns. "Bitter kola is anti-poison and helps to detoxify the system, it has the ability to repel evil men and spirits, it could sound superstitious but it works.
Agroforestry Uses: The tree is used to provide shade in cocoa plantations.The bark contains an abundant sticky resinous gum that has water-proofing properties. It can be used to protect powder in the priming pans of flintlock guns from rain.

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