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, and they are still used to flavor some foods and beverages today.
Bissy tea is created by grating the nuts to create a dust that can be brewed into a tea. Although bissy tea is not well-studied in humans, it is a popular folk remedy in Africa and around the world. Learn some of the potential benefits of bissy tea along with the risks.
Bissy Tea Benefits
Most evidence supporting bissy (often called bizzy) as an effective natural remedy is anecdotal. According to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, bissy tea is primarily used for a variety of illnesses like headaches, intestinal issues, menstrual cycles, and food poisoning in areas of Africa where it is natively grown. While little research is available on the effectiveness of bissy tea for these ailments, there is research on the benefits of bissy for cancer and weight loss.
Potential Cancer Treatment
According to a 2020 study published in the Latin American Journal of Biotechnology and Life Sciences, the kola nut may have anticancer and chemopreventive abilities against some cancers like leukemia. More research is needed before bissy tea can be confirmed as a cancer treatment. Some research is ongoing to explore bissy's effectiveness against other cancer cell lines.
May Aid in Weight Loss
A fact sheet published by the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) noted that caffeine products like bissy tea had a possible effect on decrease body weight. Studies conducted on humans showed that those taking kola nut lost more weight than those taking the placebo.
Bissy Tea Side Effects and Precautions
When used in amounts typically consumed as food, bissy is generally considered safe. Most of bissy's side effects come from caffeine. These include sleep disorders, gastric irritation, excitability, nervousness, and restlessness.
Using bissy tea long-term increases your risk of these and more severe side effects. In addition, you should limit caffeine consumption with specific medications or medical conditions. You might want to stay away from bissy tea if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
May Decrease Fertility
A 2014 study by the Nigerian Medical Journal on Cola nitida rubra noted effects on sperm count in male rats. The study concluded that there was a significant reduction in the sperm count after an extract was consumed. There was also a decrease in the plasma level of luteinizing hormone, which regulates testes functions. The study concluded that the extract could have a negative impact on reproduction so some regulation of kola nut might be needed.
It is important to remember, however, that the study involved rats, not humans. So we don't know what kind of effect, if any, bissy or bissy extract might have in humans.
Increase in Blood Pressure
In the same study, the rats had an increase in blood pressure. The rats also experienced an increase in respiratory rates as well as body temperature. Again, similar findings in humans are lacking.
May Be Combined With Banned Substances
Bissy contains caffeine and is used as a stimulant to keep you alert. It's also used to boost your metabolism to help increase weight loss. The kola nut was used in some stimulant weight loss supplements until 2004. It was sometimes combined with potentially dangerous ingredients.
In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned ephedra supplements over concerns of their cardiovascular constriction properties, stating the possible side effects and risks of the dietary supplements include heart attack, stroke, and death. This ban came after 155 people died from taking supplements containing ephedra.
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 healthcare practitioner.
How to Make Bissy Tea
You can make bissy tea from kola nuts or powder. To make:
- Grate the nuts.
- 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.
Bissy Tea Dosage and Safety
While there is no standard dosage for using bissy tea to treat specific health conditions, ODS noted that safety concerns for kola nut were not noted at 400-500 mg a day. Different brands may contain varying amounts of bissy and caffeine. Therefore, it's important to read the label and the manufacturer's recommendations.
Before adding Bissy tea to your diet, consult a qualified healthcare provider to determine the proper dose for your health. Your health provider can also help you to determine if bissy tea is beneficial or dangerous to your current health.