Kolanut fruit (Cola acuminata), also spelled "kola nut", is packed with caffeine and theobromine, as well as a number of other natural chemical compounds that make for a powerful and focused energy boost. Due to its impressive stimulating effects, the kolanut has been used for thousands of years in West Africa. Kolanut fruit's caffeine content makes for a strong neurological stimulant that can combat work fatigue, suppress hunger and uplift spirits. The fruit and its extracts have been used in treating respiratory conditions such as asthma and whooping cough thanks to the Theobromine which opens the blood vessels in the lungs for greater circulation of oxygen. It's also believed to aid in weight loss, digestion, and boost metabolic rate.
Kolanut grows as a seed kernel in shelled pods, sprouting from a large Mallow tree. These trees can often grow 60 feet high and are indigenous to tropical West Africa. They can also be found in pockets of Brazil and the West Indies, where they were transferred across the seas at the start of the 17th century. It's versatility as a symbol, medicine, food and flavoring has long been utilized around the world for centuries.
As a symbol, kolanut has been widely used by all ethnic groups in Nigeria, particularly amongst the Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa tribes. There is an age old saying in Nigeria, "kolanut is produced in the West by Yorubas, consumed in the North by Hausas and worshiped in the East by Igbo."
The trusting ingredient is used to grace social rituals of hospitality as welcome offerings to guests; as sacred offering in religious rites and prayers; in ancestor veneration. It's use is extremely common in gatherings for important life events such as weddings, naming ceremonies, funerals and memorials.
It's history is less foreign than you think, however. In the late 1880's it was made popular in the United States by John Pemberton in the 1880's when he used it as the main ingredient in the original formula for Coca-Cola. John was badly injured as a confederate soldier in the civil war and became addicted to morphine as a result. Recognizing his addiction he set out in search of a better alternative, finding kolanut (Cola acuminata) and using it as a main ingredient in the original formula for Coca-Cola. Kolanut has since been replaced with artificial flavorings, its origins in Africa lost through the global expansion of the Coke brand.
It is our goal to bring kolanut fruit and the agricultural potential of West Africa back into the spotlight.