Claim: A Facebook blogger claims the use of four pieces of kola nut, mixed with ginger, garlic and lime water when left to ferment for two days can resolve menstrual problems.
Verdict: There is no scientific evidence that proves mixing kola nuts with garlic, ginger and lime water can cure menstrual problems.
A Facebook blog on health, wellness and skincare by the name Faida Babale claims the use of four kola nuts, ginger, garlic cut and bottled together with lime juice and honey can resolve menstrual problems when taken two days after fermentation.
With kola nut the major ingredients and a picture of kola nut posted in the article, the post was shared more than 2,000 times and commented on by more than 700 people.
The post which was also liked over 2,000 times has gathered mixed reviews with some Facebook users showing interest and asking for additional information while others called for caution and advised women to be careful with the kind of concoction they consume.
Menstrual problems or disorders are disruptive physical and/or emotional symptoms just before and during menstruation, including heavy bleeding, missed periods and unmanageable mood swings. There are many types of menstrual related problems that affect women but the major ones are:
Abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB), which may include heavy menstrual bleeding, no menstrual bleeding (amenorrhea) or bleeding between periods (irregular menstrual bleeding)
Dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual periods)
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
According to research, menstrual irregularities occur in an estimated 14% to 25% of women of childbearing age.
Kola nut and medicinal value
Kola nut belongs to the plant family Sterculiaceae with about 125 species of trees native to the tropical rainforests of Africa. Of these species, the most common in Nigeria are cola nitida with two phenotypic varieties; the white and red cultivars, cola acuminata and garcinia cola and buchholzia coriacea popularly known as wonderful kola.
According to a 2012 research review by Adebayo S.A and Oladele O.I titled: “Medicinal Values of Kolanut in Nigeria: Implication for Extension Service Delivery,” Nigeria accounts for about 70 percent of the total world production of kola nuts with about 90% of the kola produced in Nigeria consumed within the country while 10% is exported.
The review explained that kola is highly valued for its perceived medicinal attributes which make it a highly desired product.
It contains large amounts of caffeine and theobromine and are therefore used as a stimulant that produces a strong state of euphoria and well being, enhance alertness and physical energy, elevate mood, increase tactile sensitivity, suppress appetite and hunger and are used as an aphrodisiac.
Ginger, lime and garlic
Ginger, also known as Zingiber officinale, is a flowering plant whose rhizome, ginger root, is widely used as a spice and a folk medicine.
Ginger has been widely used in traditional medicine, and therefore there are many scientific studies examining its medical value.
Research suggests that eating ginger provides multiple health benefits including relieving some types of pain.
Garlic (Allium sativum) is a species of bulbous flowering plant in the onion genus Allium. Garlic is widely used for several conditions linked to the blood system and heart, including atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high cholesterol, heart attack, coronary heart disease, and hypertension.
Limes are citrus fruits which are typically round, green in color, and contain acidic juice vesicles. Limes are said to be nutritional powerhouses as they are high in vitamin C, antioxidants, and other nutrients.
Because limes are loaded with nutrients, they may help boost your immunity, reduce heart disease risk factors, prevent kidney stones, aid iron absorption, and promote healthy skin.
Daily Trust conducted a keyword search and found some articles on kola nuts. A recent review on kola nut consumption, its benefits and side effects published in 2020 in the “World Journal of Advanced Research and Reviews” states that kola nuts have been researched to have many health benefits, however, they still have some effects which when consumed in large quantities are dangerous.
The research however linked stories about the many health benefits of kola nut to thousands of years and states that though kola nut is likely safe for most people when consumed in amounts found in foods, it may not be appropriate for everyone.
There was however little or no specific research about kola nuts and menstrual problems even though some researchers say most claims about kola nuts should be seen as folklore because they are yet to be scientifically researched and proven.
Research on “Effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on heavy menstrual bleeding: a placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial” reveals that ginger may be considered as an effective therapeutic option for heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB).
Another study shows that ginger can be widely used in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome. While there is little or no research directly on garlic and menstruation-related problems, taking lime juice just before periods could be said to delay menstrual flow or make them lighter.
Safwan Ismaila Idris, a lecturer with the department of Biological Sciences from the Bauchi State University, said there is no research that proves that kola nuts have certain properties that could cure menstrual problems.
Idris said most assertions about the use of kola nuts to cure diseases are traditional. “Normally in plants, we look at bioactive compounds to know their medicinal values and these bioactive compounds promote health in humans.
In the case of kola nuts, it’s mainly composed of caffeine which is a flavour in most beverages and a stimulant that activates metabolism. But the issue of combining ginger, garlic and lime, that is kind of complicated.”
“I’ve not come across any research that talks about these combinations to cure menstrual related problems and sometimes when you mix up all these things, there could be side effects. Some of the components may have adverse reactions to the body,” he said.
Also speaking, Jos based consultant Obstetrics and Gynaecologist, Dr. Maimuna Hassan, said there is no research on how combining kola nuts, ginger, garlic and lime cures menstrual problems but stated that lime in particular which is taken in weight loss could affect ovulation in women.
Dr. Hassan added: “There is no study that shows outrightly that lime itself can regularise menstruation on its own but taking it can affect fertility because it can disrupt the final process of ovulation.
“For the kola nut, there is also no study to show that it regularises menstruation, most of these things are based on hearsay and myths and as Africans, we don’t like to take the orthodox medicine.”
Though there are few articles that claim that spices such as ginger could relieve pain including those related to menstrual cycle, there is little or no scientific evidence about how kola nut, garlic and lime when mixed together with ginger could cure menstrual problems.
The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship in partnership with Daily Trust newspapers to facilitate the ethos of truth in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.