Caffeine is an odorless, slightly bitter organic compound found mostly in beverages such as coffee or tea and in chocolate.  It is the most widely used “mind-altering drug” in the world, though it is considered safe and is mostly unregulated.  Caffeine acts as a mild stimulant on the nervous system, aiding in alertness.  Caffeine is also included in many weight loss supplements due to its reputation of acting as an appetite suppressant and in stimulating thermogenesis.  A number of over the counter pain relievers, headache remedies and antihistamines contain caffeine.

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Caffeine is a compound that is produced naturally in the many plants and nuts.  Although it is widely available without a prescription, caffeine is defined as a drug because it stimulates the central nervous system, causing increased alertness and giving most people a temporary energy and mood boost.  Caffeine is known to stimulate thermogenesis, one of the ways the body generates heat and energy from digested food.  Caffeine may also act as an appetite suppressant and as a diuretic.

There are many sources of caffeine available on the market today.  In addition to being found in coffee, tea, energy waters, cocoa and carbonated beverages, caffeine is also found in a variety of chocolates.  It is also present in a number of weight loss supplements in the form of kola nut seeds, bissey nut, guarana, citrus aurantlum extract and yerba mate.  It is important to know what form of caffeine is in any diet product you purchase as some do come with safety warnings. It is also important to avoid mixing too many forms of caffeine in one formula as this can lead to restlessness, sleeplessness and heart irregularities.



Kola cola is common name for a genus of about 125 species of evergreen trees (trees that certain foliage throughout the year). It is a native to tropical areas of the world. Kola trees are best known for their seeds or nuts which are rich in caffeine and used in the manufacturing of carbonated soft drinks known as kola beverages.

Kola trees belong to the cacao family sterculiaceae. The main species grown for their seed production are classified as kola nitida and kola acuminate.2They are classified into these groups on the basis of the amount of cotyledons they have: kola nitida is dicotyledonous while kola acuminate has more than two cotyledons. Thses are two varieties of kola nitida which are rubra and alba. 3,4

Economically, the most important kola species are those cultivated in tropical; countries for their caffeine –rich nuts.1 Harvested by hand, the brown nuts, which resemble chestnuts and have an aroma. Like that of nutmeg are separated from the follicles and sun-dried, after which they are ready for shipment. Kola forms a part of social and religious customs in West Africa. Kola is one of the major sources of caffeine. Humans have consumed caffeine since the Stone Age.5 Early peoples found that chewing the seeds, bark, or leaves of certain plants had the effects of easing fatigue, stimulating awareness, and elevating one’s mood. Only much later was it found that the effect of caffeine was increased by steeping such plants in hot water. Global consumption of caffeine has been estimated at 120,000 tones per year,6 making it the world’s most popular psychoactive substance. This amounts to one serving of a caffeinated beverage for every person every day. Caffeine is a central nervous system and metabolic stimulant,7 and is used both recreationally and medically to reduce physical fatigue and restore mental alertness when unusual weakness or drowsiness occurs. Caffeine and other methylxanthine derivatives are also used on newborns to treat apnea and correct irregular heartbeats. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system first at the higher levels, resulting in increased alertness and wakefulness, faster and clearer flow of thought, increased focus, and better general body coordination, and later at the spinal cord level at higher doses.8 Once inside the body, it has a complex chemistry, and acts through several mechanisms as described below.

Many cultures have legends that attribute the discovery of such plants to people living many thousands of years ago.Muslims consider kola nuts to be sacred and incorporate them in ceremonial and social occasions. When chewed kola nuts taste bitter initially but leave a sweet, lingering aftertaste.