Jamaican bissy tea is a barely known tea. It comes, unsurprisingly from Jamaica, and holds many medicinal properties. But if Jamaican bissy tea benefits are so wonderful, why don’t many people know about it?
Well, that’s an interesting question with an unknown answer. But let’s first see what it is, where it came from, and what are the true benefits of Jamaican bissy tea.
What is Jamaican Bissy Tea?
Kola nuts or cola nuts, known as “Bissy” in Jamaica, are the star-shaped fruit of the kola tree. Kola trees, known botanically as Cola acuminata and Cola nitida, are members of the cocoa family.
These evergreen trees are native to tropical Africa and can grow up to 60 feet high.
Each star-shaped fruit grown from the Kola trees contains between two to five kola nuts. Kola nuts are long brown nuts, about two inches long or the size of a chestnut.
They can be chewed fresh from the tree but are often hand-collected and dried in the sun before use. They are known to have a somewhat bitter taste and a slightly sweeter aftertaste.
Kola nuts are natural sources of caffeine and have been used as an ingredient in soft drinks and medicine for decades (you may have suspected this from it’s all too familiar name).
However, many drink manufacturers in the United States and Europe do not use actual kola nuts for cola; instead, they have designed synthetic flavor that resembles the taste of the kola nut.
Preparing real Bissy tea from scratch is relatively easy. The kola nuts are dried, grated, and then boiled. The boiled mixture is then strained and consumed.
Due to its popularity in Jamaica, Bissy tea can be found in teabag form for convenience and enjoyment.
Kola Nut & Jamaican Bissy Tea Benefits
Kola nuts and Bissy tea has been a staple in Jamaican medicine since their introduction in the 18th century. In addition to its energy-boosting caffeine, kola nut teas offer a variety of health benefits for the avid Bissy drinker.
Increases Metabolism & Promotes Weight Loss
Research suggests that Bissy tea is beneficial for promoting weight loss and increasing metabolism.
One suggestion for this is that Bissy’s high caffeine content suppresses the appetite, similarly to coffee, resulting in the consumption of fewer calories.
The caffeine content in Bissy tea also stimulates the nervous system, encouraging the breakdown of fat cells.
A 2004 study showed that this increase in fat burning sped up metabolism. In addition, compounds in kola nuts (such as caffeine) have been shown to increase one’s resting metabolic rate (RMR), or the rate at which you burn calories while resting.
Studies have found intake of caffeine to increase one’s RMR by 3–11%.
Kola nuts are known to benefit digestion by promoting the production of gastric acid. Gastric acid plays a vital role in the digestion of proteins by activating digestive enzymes that break down the long chains of amino acids.
A 2014 mini-review studying the Cola acuminata plant found that the Bissy nut or kola nut has anti-cancer and chemo-preventative potential.
Some of the research from this study found that the Bissy nut’s hexane extract killed 100% of breast and prostate cancer cell lines.
Additional research has supported Bissy nut’s anti-cancer properties, showing that it possesses tumor inhibitory activity for prostate cancer cells.
Calms Headaches & Migraines
The kola nuts in Bissy tea may be beneficial for those who suffer from headaches and migraines.
It is believed that the caffeine content in the kola nut dilates or widens blood vessels in the brain. Because migraines often affect blood vessels in the head, this dilation can decrease migraine head pain.
Theobromine, a compound found in Bissy tea and other cocoa plants, has shown to be a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory capabilities.
In addition to neutralizing free radicals and preventing oxidative damage at the cellular level, research suggests that theobromine’s anti-inflammatory properties could be linked to several of its proven health benefits.
In support of this claim, a 2019 study examining Cola nitida activity in mice found the extract to have both anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
Improves Respiratory Health
Bissy tea’s theobromine content may also improve respiratory health by widening the airways and relaxing the lung’s smooth muscle tissue.
Theobromine’s ability to increase airflow into the lungs makes it an effective cough suppressant and useful for managing asthma symptoms and other respiratory conditions.
Kola nuts are high in caffeine, which research has shown to improve various aspects of brain function such as vigilance and reaction time.
They also work as a stimulating agent by increasing circulation and blood flow. Kola nuts increase the brain’s oxygen levels, which in turn improves concentration and focus.
Bissy Tea For Detoxing
Bissy tea and the kola nut has long been used as a remedy for poisoning in Jamaica.
This includes food poisoning and upset stomach from certain foods. It is believed that Bissy tea is a safe, natural way to remove the poison and toxic elements from the body.
Bissy tea contains high levels of tannic acid. Tannins are a chemical compound commonly found in tea that belong to a larger group of compounds known as polyphenols.
Tannins have a larger molecular makeup than other types of polyphenols, which gives them the unique ability to combine with other molecules in the body, such as proteins and minerals.
Several studies have researched the digestive and detoxification properties of tannins.
Some research suggests that tea’s high levels of ellagitannins promote the growth and activity of beneficial gut bacteria that aids in digestion and the body’s natural detoxing processes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Bissy Tea Good For?
Bissy tea is derived from the kola nut. Kola nuts contain several important compounds—caffeine, theobromine, tannins, and catechins—linked to various health benefits.
Some of these health benefits include treating headaches and respiratory issues, boosting mental health, improving gastrointestinal health, healing infections, and temporarily treating fatigue.
Is Bissy Tea Safe to Drink While Pregnant?
Consuming small amounts of Bissy or kola nut tea during pregnancy is relatively safe for pregnant women.
Drinking Bissy tea has been shown to ease morning sickness, headaches, and constipation while providing the body with nourishing antioxidants and nutrients and could thus be useful for pregnant women.
However, because kola nuts contain caffeine, drinking large amounts of Bissy tea is not recommended.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends consuming 200 mg or less of caffeine when you are or are trying to become pregnant.
If you are pregnant, always consult your doctor and health care providers before adding Bissy tea into your diet.
What is Bissy Tea Used For?
There are many benefits associated with kola nuts and Bissy tea. A few of the ailments kola nuts have been known to treat are short-term mental and physical fatigue, diarrhea, and migraines.
What Are the Side Effects of Kola Nuts?
Bissy tea or kola nut’s caffeine contents can influence the body and cause side effects for some. Having too much caffeine can cause restlessness, insomnia, anxiety, dizziness, dehydration, headaches, and shakiness.
While kola nuts are considered safe by the FDA and other worldwide food governing agencies, be mindful of the caffeine content of Bissy tea and kola nuts before consuming them.
Does Bissy Tea Treat Chikungunya?
Chikungunya is a viral infection caused by the Chikungunya virus (CHIKV). It is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito.
Symptoms of an infection included fever, headache, rash, muscle pain, joint pain, and swelling.
While there is no vaccine or treatment drug for Chikungunya, Jamaicans have found kola nuts and Bissy tea to be helpful in treating the Chikungunya virus.
What Is Kola Nut Extract?
According to the FDA, kola nut extract is a natural food flavoring that is safe for human consumption. The extract is commonly found in supplements, certain weight-loss drugs and is a common flavoring used in beverages.
What is the History of the Kola Nut?
The kola nut has long been an essential part of traditional culture and religion in West Africa. The nut has been chewed in private and social settings to stimulate the mind.
Kola nuts were (and still are) also used as a religious object used for prayer, ancestor reverence, and events such as weddings, funerals, and naming ceremonies.
Is Coca-Cola Made from Kola Nuts?
In the mid-1880s, a Georgian pharmacist named John Pemberton mixed kola nut extract with sugar, carbonated water, and other plant compounds to create Coca-Cola.
However, the modern Coca-Cola recipe no longer uses real kola nut extract, only flavorings that mimic its unique taste.
What Are the Side Effects from Drinking Bissy Tea?
Bissy tea is considered a safe herb that has no significant side effects. However, because Bissy tea contains caffeine, caffeine-related side effects such as restlessness, anxiousness, gastric irritation, and sleep disruption should be considered.