Bitter kola, its drop lower eye pressure — Study

Eating bitter kola can reduce intraocular pressure in the eye of healthy young adults by 21 per cent and this may be of benefit to individuals with primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), which is the most common form of glaucoma or ocular hypertension in low-income settings, a study has said.

In the new study, researchers assessed the effect of eating bitter kola on intraocular pressure (IOP) in 46 healthy individuals aged between 19 and 27 years at the Optometry Clinic of the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. They were recruited from the University of Cape Coast student population and randomised into two groups (A and B).

Group A took 100 mg/kg body weight of bitter kola that was mashed and dissolved in a 200 ml of water on their first visit and group B ingested 200 ml of water. On the second visit, the order of treatment was reversed. The IOP was measured at baseline and every 45 minutes interval for 135 minutes.

The dosage of 100 mg/kg used in this study is equivalent to 5.0 to 9.6 grammes of bitter kola and it falls within the average daily consumption of two nuts of bitter kola. This dosage is considered to be safe because other scientists had speculated that high doses (400 mg/kg) of bitter kola can be toxic to human organs and may cause liver damage and peptic ulcer.

They had a baseline IOP measurement of between 11 and 24 mmHg in both eyes, and none of the subjects was a casual or habitual bitter kola consumer. Also, individuals with a family history of glaucoma, any eye or systemic disease, or were taking any forms of medication at the time of the study were excluded from participating in the study.

Also, individuals that had a family history of glaucoma, any eye or systemic disease, or were taking any forms of medication at the time of the study. Also, excluded were individuals that had reported allergic reactions to bitter kola, corneal abnormalities or have potential risk factors for angle-closure glaucoma.

This 2020 study to determine whether eating bitter kola in a dose comparable to normal daily consumption levels will reduce IOP significantly in healthy young adults had involved Alex A. Ilechie, Mohammed M. Jeduah, Carl H. Abraham, Stephen Ocansey, Emmanuel Abu, Theophilus Okyere and Obarijima Ngosaro. It was in the journal, Acta Ophthalmology.

They found that the average IOP measurements decreased by 7.9, 18.2 and 20.6 per cent at 45, 90 and 135 minutes, respectively, after bitter kola treatment. The reduction, though variable across the individuals, was statistically significant across the respective time points.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. Its most common form, primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), is characterised by progressive optic nerve degeneration and affects more than 60 million people worldwide.

In Africa, glaucoma accounts for 15 per cent of blindness and it is the region with the highest prevalence of blindness relative to other regions worldwide. Intraocular pressure is the only modifiable factor in patients with glaucoma; therefore, treatment with IOP-lowering medication has been critical to prevent blindness.

However, the development of an active natural product that is effective in lowering IOP and have fewer side effects might be critical to improving glaucoma treatment compliance.

One of such natural products is bitter kola. It is colloquially referred to as ‘bitter kola’ because of its typical distinct bitter taste. In Africa, bitter kola is prevalently used for traditional hospitality and serves a variety of roles in the treatment of several ailments including coughs, colds, voice hoarseness, aphrodisiac and liver diseases.

Studies have found Bitter kola has blood pressure lowering effects. It has also shown potential utility for fighting virulent diseases, including Ebola, by halting viral replication. Also, there is significant scientific evidence suggesting that bitter kola is safe in humans at the normal consumption level.

The IOP-lowering effect of applying its water solution has been demonstrated in both animal and human studies, including a recent randomized clinical trial which examined different IOP-lowering medications.

 

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