Bissy, also called kola nut, is the fruit of the Kola tree, which is an evergreen native to Africa. Kola nuts are the same caffeinated ingredient that launched Coca-Cola's original recipe in the late 19th century. They are still used to flavor some foods and beverages today. Although bissy is not well-studied in humans, it is a popular folk remedy.
Most evidence supporting bissy as an effective natural remedy is anecdotal. According to "A Study on the Medicinal Usage of Flora and Fauna," written by Jeffrey Santos for the University of Belize, bissy is primarily used to treat food poisoning, food allergies, infection, diarrhea, and fever. It's also used to treat other health conditions.
Chikgungunya is a virus spread by mosquitos. At one time, chikgungunya was only seen in Africa, Asia, and Europe. In 2013, the virus made its way to the Caribbean islands. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chikgungunya may cause:
- Joint pain and swelling
- Muscle pain
There is no vaccine or mainstream medicinal drug to treat chigungunya. Many people with the condition turn to bissy tea for symptom relief.
According to a 2014 study, bissy may have anticancer and chemopreventive abilities against some breast and prostate cancers. More research is needed before bissy can be confirmed as a cancer treatment. Some research is ongoing to explore bissy's effectiveness against other cancer cell lines.
Bissy contains caffeine and is used as a stimulant to keep you alert and induce a sense of well-being. It's also used to boost your metabolism to help increase weight loss. Bissy can be found in some stimulant weight loss supplements. A 2002 study on an herbal supplement that included ephedra and kola nut was found to increase weight loss, decrease fat, and improve blood lipids. No adverse side effects were reported. Still, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned ephedra supplements in 2004.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the FDA ephedra ban does not include herbal remedies or herbal teas. As a result, there may still be products on the market that contain both ephedra and bissy. You should not use them unless under the supervision of your doctor or a qualified natural medicine practitioner.
How to Use Bissy
You can make bissy tea from bissy (kola) nuts or bissy powder. To make, grate the nuts, and pour 1/2 cup of hot water over one tablespoon of grated or ground nuts. You may sweeten the tea with honey or sugar. Some people add ginger or mint. Enjoy the tea hot or cold. You can also use pre-made bissy tea bags.
There is no standardized dosage of bissy tea to treat specific health conditions. Different brands may contain varying amounts of bissy and caffeine. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for use. If possible, consult a qualified health practitioner to determine the proper dose for your needs.
Side Effects and Precautions
When used in food amounts, bissy is generally considered safe. Most of bissy's side effects come from caffeine. Using bissy tea long-term increases your risk of side effects, and long-term use of caffeine may worsen health certain health conditions and interact with medications. You should not use bissy tea if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Where to Buy
It's unlikely you'll find dried kola nuts, bissy powder, or bissy tea bags at your local grocery store or even many natural health stores. You may have to order them online. Here are some options to consider:
- Eden Gardens Bissy Tea: Dr. Henry Lowe created this line of teas. He is the same man who researched bissy for its anticancer benefits. There are 24 tea bags per box.
- Caribbean Dreams Bissy Tea: This tea earned a four-star average on Amazon for its light flavor and energy-boosting abilities. There are 24 tea bags per box.
- African Fresh Kola Nuts: If you want to try your hand at making freshly-grated bissy tea, you'll need whole kola nuts. This company offers a half- pound.
- Starwest Botanicals Kola Nut Powder: You can use this five-star rated powder to make bissy tea. Each package contains one pound.
A Reasonably Safe Herbal Remedy
Bissy tea has been used for centuries as a natural remedy. As herbal remedies become more mainstream, bissy is enjoying a surge in popularity. Research on bissy is encouraging, but much more is needed before the herb can be approved for use in modern medicine.
If you're not sensitive to caffeine, you can enjoy a cup of bissy tea with little worry about negative side effects. However, if you're sensitive to caffeine or have certain health conditions, bissy tea may cause adverse effects and make you worse. Talk to your doctor before using bissy tea to treat any medical condition.