This section is from the book "Practical Dietetics With Special Reference To Diet In Disease", by William Gilman Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Practical Dietetics with Special Reference to Diet in Disease.
The kola nut is the fruit of a tall tree of the order Sterculiacece, growing in the island of Jamaica, on the west coast of Africa, East India, and Ceylon. It resembles both coffee and chocolate in some of its properties, and its uses are practically the same. It contains caffeine, or theine and theobromine, besides a little fat, glucose, dextrin and starch, cellulose, albumins, tannin, mucilaginous material, a diastatic and a milk-digesting ferment, and other substances.
Kola is believed to exercise a restraining influence upon tissue waste. It is also mildly stimulating to the heart and nervous system, and is diuretic as well as somewhat tonic in its action on the stomach. It is said to increase the capacity for endurance of muscular work.
Its efficacy has been repeatedly tested by European army surgeons - especially in France and Switzerland - for troops on the march, and has been shown to lessen fatigue and diminish the craving for both food and drink.
Kola made into an infusion like coffee, but only one third or one half the strength of the latter, forms a smooth, rich, dark-brown fluid without sediment or oily scum. It is drunk, like coffee or chocolate, with milk and sugar, and has a not unpleasant taste. It is said to be well borne by delicate stomachs, and may be prescribed in fevers. In large doses it may cause insomnia. As a substitute for food on forced marches or in mountain climbing it is said by those who have tried it to sustain strength for as long as forty hours, and to serve better than tea or coffee.