Kola is the origin of the word “cola” but has no particular relation to gotu kola. It is the name of any species of tree in the genus Cola. They are caffeine-bearing plants used to flavor beverages. Bet you didn’t see that one coming!
The nut of this West African tree contains three central nervous system stimulants: caffeine, kolanin and theobromine. Together they make a powerful combination.
Like most stimulants around the world, it has been in social and medical use for as far back as anyone can determine. It’s used as an aphrodisiac by some people (Jamaicans in particular), though it has no specific aphrodisiac qualities.
So why is it that almost every stimulant discovered is used as an aphrodisiac? It is a sympathetic effect, similar to that of capsaicin in chile peppers. An increase in energy and excitement can be attributed to one’s company rather than one’s diet – even if the items chosen for consumption were specifically selected for those effects. Sometimes fooling yourself isn’t all bad.