Have You Been Mislead About Bitter Kola and Pregnancy?


Bitter Kola can be bought as nuts (see above), seeds or even in powder form.

Bitter Kola (also known as the Kola Nut) is popular in Nigeria.

Very popular.

Let’s face it – it’s little surprise.

After all, Bitter Kola is unique with its bitter and sweet taste.

The Kola Nut has been used for centuries in Nigerian folk medicine as a treatment for colds, coughs, throat infections and other ailments.

But what makes this special nut a favorite of Nigerians across the world is that it is a potent stimulant.

Bitter Kola has two main properties.

  • Caffeine which stimulates the central nervous system
  • Theobromine which stimulates the heart

In simple terms, this means that taking Bitter Kola would have a similar effect on you as drinking coca cola, tea, coffee or any other caffeinated product. In actual fact, Kola nut was once used as part of the recipe for Pepsi Cola!

The problem though is that we have always been told that there are little or no side effects of consuming Bitter Kola. Is this true?

The answer is no. Both Caffeine and Theombromine have been shown to cause side effects such as tremors, anxiety, insomnia and frequent urination.

Like most things in life, experts suggest that Bitter Kola is ok to consume in moderation. Excess use may lead to the above side effects.

Bitter Kola and Pregnancy

Pregnant women need to take care of their diet and health more than everyone else. Therefore, it’s little surprise they’re asking: Is Bitter Kola safe during pregnancy? Can a pregnant woman take Bitter Kola?

These are all important questions because there is little information available on the side effects of Bitter Kola on pregnant women.

The problem with Bitter Kola for pregnant women is the caffeine content that we talked about above.

Caffeine can lead to changes in a baby’s movement and sleep pattern. You may be able to handle such caffeine but the baby may struggle.

Various animal based studies have suggested that caffeine is the cause of side effects such as low weight at birth, premature labour and birth defects.

According to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) for pregnant women:

“you should should limit the amount of caffeine you have to 200 milligrams (mg) a day”.

But can you take Bitter Kola and keep under the 200 milligrams daily caffeine limit recommended by the UK’s NHS? The NHS suggests that one mug of instant coffee is equal to 100mg of caffeine.

Here’s the bad news for pregnant women: one Kola Nut has more caffeine than two large cups of coffee!

According to George Burdock’s article on Kola Nuts from the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal:

“The Kola Nut’s primary social and economic significance lies in its being a very concentrated source of the central nervous systems (CNS) stimulant, caffeine, with one nut containing more caffeine than two large cups of American coffee”

Avoid Bitter Kola During Pregnancy

What the above means is that Bitter Kola and pregnancy do not go hand in hand as even one nut contains more caffeine than the recommended daily amount of caffeine for pregnant women.

If you don’t believe me, listen to the advice of the American Herbal Products Association which includes C. Nitada (the plant which produces Bitter Kola) on its list of herbs that might cause irritation to the GI tract, that might induce nervous system stimulation and that should not be used in pregnancy unless otherwise directed by a suitably qualified expert.

There are other options for pregnant women who want a moderate stimulant without the negative side effects of Bitter Kola.

Try decaffeinated tea and coffee or, even better, stick to fruit juices and water.

By the way, thanks for reading this article and feel free to check out our piece on drinking palm wine during pregnancy.


  1. Ssg

    September 25, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Thank you for this info. It was helpful

  2. Gyan kuasi

    November 5, 2016 at 5:37 am

    Very helpful tanc u keep up the gud wrk

  3. tunji

    November 7, 2016 at 11:36 pm

    but some people said bitter kola is boost sperm count


    November 24, 2016 at 10:50 am

    pls research and verify well before posting anything online to avoid confusing some people. bitter kola and kola nut are not the same.their content and medicinal value also differs.

    • Opeyemi

      November 26, 2016 at 10:24 am

      Hmmm….. Noted, what a valid and valuable point right there. Thanks patience

  5. Dasilva

    November 28, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    My wife surdenely told me to search for the side effects of bitter cola then I did. Am so happy to discover her intuition to query the topic is right. She is pregnant though early and resently trying to indulge in the act of eating the nut. Thanks for the article as she even spur out the one in her mouth when u gave her to read. So, you are making impact in homes. Thanks a lot.

    • Umart Taqi

      April 12, 2017 at 10:09 am

      Please I am pregnant, and I eat bitter kola at all times. What food do I replace it with?

      • Ahaoma

        May 7, 2017 at 4:25 am

        I ate bitter kola in my 1st trimester cos of saliva my midwife ask if i feed well at all? This is my 2nd trimester she asked d same question,coz my baby is nt havn much improvement.thanks for dis info.

  6. Naijababy

    December 10, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    lol I’m here because my husband think it’s ok for me to eat bitter Kola for my excessive salivating and nausea as it makes my whole day miserable, but I’m kinda iffy about it, reason being that I suffered a miscarriage for the first time last year, and during that pregnancy I was eating bitter kola faithfully just to eliminate my excessive salivation and reduce nausea. I’m not saying it might have been the cause of it (doc said the MC was due to chromosomal issues) however, once bitten, twice shy. Now I don’t know if it contributed to it, since I’ve had two successful pregnancies in the past w/o a miscarriage and the first time I try bitter Kola I suffer a miscarriage, but I’ll just stay away from it for safety sake.

  7. Rosie

    December 18, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    Thanks for the info. I’m in my early stage of pregnancy and I’ve been consuming bitter kola b’cos of excess saliva and nausea hmmmmm…I’m so done with the bitter kola. thanks again

  8. Olamide

    January 31, 2017 at 8:23 am

    Your post seems to be mixing up bitter kola (garcinia) and Kola nut. They are two different things. Can you please clarify which exactly you are talking about?

    • Ini

      June 9, 2017 at 7:26 pm

      Thanks for this observation cos I was confused too. bitter kola or kola nut? Cos I also need clarification as I just started taking bitter kola and I’m pregg.

  9. King

    February 23, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    Thanks a lot for the lesson you taught me on the side effect of kolanut on pregnant women, at least I have some thing to tell my wife and other pregnant women outside there.

  10. maxwell

    March 14, 2017 at 6:51 am

    Can bitter kola abort early pregnancy?

  11. Choice

    April 11, 2017 at 1:54 am

    Can bitter kola affect early pregnancy?

  12. Fausty

    May 3, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    Thanks for the education. But I have already taken some during my first trimester so am afraid.

  13. Gloreah

    May 8, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Thanks for d highlights…could u imagine I have a professional exam coming up n I thot of taking bitter kola in order to stay awake to read cz my sleepy eyes due pregrancy wud not allow me read..anywys thanks for d write up,I dare not further my thots of bitter kola anymore…wud try keeping awake naturally….once again thanks….

  14. Oluwadamilola

    May 12, 2017 at 12:00 am

    Pls I need some clarification on this.
    Have been placing bitterkola in my mouth to avoid vomiting n saliva, though am not eating it.
    Pls I need to know if am free from this side effects
    Thank u so muuch

  15. Ofure

    May 16, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    I took bitterkola along with tomtom in the early stages of my last pregnancy in 2014 cos of nausea n saliva. Didn’t do so during my first 3(My remedy then was sugarless gum).but wen i had my last baby,she suddenly started vomiting blood at 3 months i thank God it stopped later not sure if it was connected wt d bitterkola n tomtom. My 3 older children did not experience such.

  16. T-boy

    August 9, 2017 at 7:17 am

    I’m so scared here…Pls what will happened the baby if a pregnant woman takes Bittercola regularly? The pregnancy is abt 4months and she’s been eating Bittercola like crazy since day 1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *