Scientific name: Cola nitida, cola acuminata

Common names: Caffeine nut, Kola nut, Guru nut

Ayurvedic names:

Chinese names:

Bangladesh names:

Arabic names:    الكولا (al kolaa)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Fabaceae

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Seed 



Height: 20 to 40 m

Actions: valuable nervine, heart tonic, and a good general tonic

Known Constituents: Usually >1.5% caffiene, kolanin 

Constituents Explained:


The kernels have an oblong shape, common weight is 5-15g with a hard smooth outside that is dark brown.  The inside is reddish-brown.

Traditional Use:

Known as a nutritious plant, it contains Vitamins A, B vitamins, C, E, K and a varitey of minerals and trace minerals.  A green plant famed for its high chlorophyll content. When in bloom it contains beautiful purple flowers.

Clinical Studies:

In an infection, polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN) become activated and they produce oxidizing compounds and elastase in the extracellular medium. Alpha-1-proteinase inhibitor (alpha1PI), a protease inhibitor which is inactivated by oxidants, is the main endogenous inhibitor of elastase helping to limit excessive elastase activity. 

A study evaluated the ability of a plant extract, Cola nitida nuts, to protect alpha1PI from inactivation by oxidizing compounds as reactive oxygen species. On the one hand, the direct effect of cola nut extract on neutrophil elastase, and on the H(2)O(2) and myeloperoxidase (MPO)-H(2)O(2) system via cell-free systems was also evaluated.

Results showed that cola nut extract scavenges H(2)O(2) and therefore protects alpha1PI from HOCl which is produced from the MPO-H(2)O(2) system. Experiments also showed that cola extract has the capacity to limit elastase activity. 

On the other hand, this study have worked on cellular systems including isolated PMN with the aim to study the effect of cola extract on PMN metabolism. PMN were stimulated with PMA, calcium ionophore or fMLP.

Each stimulant possesses its own stimulation pathway. According to the inhibitory concentration obtained at 50%, the results on cellular systems led to the conclusion that cola extract can reduce elastase liberation from PMN.

It can then be concluded that cola nut extract can protect alpha1PI from inactivation, and has an effect both on elastase liberation and elastase activity. 


Daels-Rokotoarison DA, Kouakou G, Gressier B, Dine T, Brunet C, Luyckx M, Bailleul F, Trotin F. “Effects Of A Caffeine-Free Cola Nitida Nuts Extract On Elastase/ Alpha-1-Proteinase Inhibitor Balance.” 2003 November