What Is Guarana? Biochemical Profile, Benefits, & Side Effects
This fruit from South America can do wonders for both your physical and mental health.
Guarana is native to Amazon’s rainforest. This produce in the region is bounty and exotic. Countries like Venezuela, Colombia, and Brazil benefit the most from this produce.
It is an integral part of traditional medicine in South American countries. Guarana is rich in caffeine. Hence, it alleviates pain and promotes neurostimulation and weight loss. It has many other health benefits.
Continue reading to learn further about the benefits, facts, rituals, and possible risks associated with guarana.
In This Article
What Is Guarana? Why Is It So Special?
Guarana is a caffeine-rich fruit that is native to the central Amazon basin. It is well known for its medicinal properties. It grows in Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Republic of Guyana, and some other surrounding countries.
The plant, seeds, and fruits of guarana are used in traditional medicine and are also linked to many tribal traditions.
Traditionally, its roasted seeds and raw fruits were used to make beverages combining maté and other herbs. These drinks are said to act as stimulants, aphrodisiacsi XAny substance, like a drug or food, that stimulate sexual desire, performance, arousal, or pleasure in people. , painkillers, memory boosters, antidepressantsi XIt refers to a substance that may help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders. , and anti-aging and antibacterial agents.
The fruit of guarana (Paullinia cupana Kunth.) looks very beautiful. It has a red, winged outer case that encases white flesh. The flesh holds one or two black or dark brown seeds that are responsible for most of guarana’s goodness.
At one glance, the fruit resembles an eyeball and is known to exert positive effects on ophthalmic health. How true is it? What are the other benefits of guarana? Find all these answers in the next section!
- Guarana seeds are known to contain the highest natural dose of caffeine in the world (2%-8%)
- These seeds also contain an active ingredient called ‘guaranine’ that is structurally similar to caffeine.
- Many weight loss and health drinks contain guarana extracts because it has antioxidant, fat burning, and appetite-controlling properties.
- Guarana is added to processed water and is consumed daily as a ritual among the tribes around the Amazon river. This drink is said to give them strength, prevent hunger pangs, and increase urine output (diuretic).
Why Should You Have Guarana?
1. Helps In Appetite Suppression
Guarana is rich in bioactive compounds like caffeine, theobromine, theophylline, tannins, saponins, catechins, epicatechins, and proanthocyanins.
When teamed with yerba mate and damiana, guarana managed to suppress appetite in obese women. In other words, their hunger pangs and desire to eat reduced, leading to weight loss (1).
Guarana has also been found to control the expression of genes that are involved in fat accumulation. It downregulates the expression of pro-adipogenic genes while promoting the expression of anti-adipogenic genes (2).
Hence, it can be used to stimulate healthy weight loss in obese individuals and treat eating disorders.
2. Stimulant And Energy Boosting Effect
Along with caffeine, guarana has tannins, alkaloids, catechins, and epicatechins. This is why it has many stimulant mechanisms.
It mobilizes calcium, helps in the binding of caffeine to its receptors in the CNS, triggers the production of ATP (energy), and ultimately improves cognitive performance and alertness.
Research says that it is the cumulative effect of caffeine along with other active components that make guarana an effective stimulant and energy booster.
Guarana has no significant effects on long-term psychological well-being, anxiety, and mood (3), (4). Therefore, it is used in many energy drinks and dietary supplements.
3. Manages Anxiety And Neurodegenerative Disorders
Guarana powder can have protective effects on your brain and nervous system. It prevents amyloid plaque formation (or accumulation) and protein glycation, reduces oxidative stress, eliminates reactive oxygen species (ROS or free radicals), and decreases acetylcholinesterase activity.
All these effects prevent neuronal death, thus proving beneficial for treating cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases in model organisms.
Thanks to its interesting phytochemical composition, guarana improves memory and lifespan of organisms suffering from anxiety despite having a high caffeine content (5).
4. Antibacterial Properties
Tannins make up a significant fraction of the bioactive ingredients in guarana. Along with other phytochemicals, tannins pose a threat to several notorious bacterial strains, such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), Streptococcus mutans, and Streptococcus sobrinus.
Guarana also reduces the levels of pro-inflammatory compounds (viz. interferons and interleukins) in your body. This indirectly shows that it can be a potent anti-inflammatory agent and protect you from bacteria-induced hypersensitivity (6).
5. Might Improve Quality Of Life In Cancer Patients
Due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of guarana, it can be used as an inexpensive and non-toxic alternative for treating fatigue, anxiety, anorexia, and other chemotherapy-induced disturbances.
Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy showed improvement in their behavior, appetite, body weight, and quality of life when given various forms of guarana extract.
Alcoholic extracts of guarana have free radical-scavenging, antimicrobial, antiproliferativei XIt refers to the property of a substance to inhibit the spread of malignant cells into the surrounding tissues. , and antineoplastici XIt refers to the property of a medicine or substance to prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells. properties.
Hence, along with treating the side effects, guarana could also help in limiting the growth and spread of certain cancers. However, there is scope for further in-depth research in this dimension (7), (8), (9).
6. Cleanses Skin And Scalp
The seeds of guarana have potent antioxidant and antimicrobial properties as they contain high amounts of methylxanthines (caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline), saponins, pigments, and choline.
Guarana is used in skin and hair products due to these properties.
Guarana can give you young and glowing skin, shiny hair that is free of dandruff, and also cure most of the pathogenic infections on your skin and scalp.
Some products used to treat cellulitis have also incorporated guarana and its various parts because of its high caffeine content (10).
What is it in guarana that gives it the benefits mentioned above? Read the next section to find out.
Biochemical Profile Of Guarana
Apart from caffeine, guarana has many phytochemicals in its leaves, fruits, and seeds. The seeds of guarana contain methylxanthines, saponins, starch, polysaccharidesi XNaturally occurring plant carbohydrates present in plant cells, and acts as a crucial source of energy for animal cells. , pigments, fats, acylglycerols, cyanolipids, and choline.
Its beans contain catechutannic acid, catechic acid, starch, protein, oils, calcium, phosphorus, and tannins, along with caffeine. So, it’s not just caffeine that’s responsible for its stimulant effect.
There is little to no information about the macro- and micronutrients present in guarana. So, until we find out more about its nutrient profile, let’s just eat guarana for its loaded phytochemical profile.
You must be wondering – where can you get an exotic Amazonian fruit like guarana? Is it available in any other forms? Of course, it is! You will have to read the next section to find out.
Do You Get Guarana Everywhere? In What Forms Is It Available?
Importing guarana is an expensive affair. Climate also plays an important factor in keeping the fruits viable. A relatively cheaper and more practical way is to use its supplements.
The recommended dosage for guarana is about 200 mg to 800 mg (or 2-3 mg/kg). Long-term dosage is not recommended because it contains high levels of caffeine and other methylxanthines (11).
Wondering what can happen to your body if you exceed that limit? Or if you loved guarana too much and gorged on a whole basket of it? Nothing pleasant – that’s for sure.
Scroll down to find out the side effects and risks associated with guarana and its supplements.
What Are The Side Effects Of Guarana?
Most of the side effects of guarana stem from its abundance of caffeine. Since many health supplements and nutraceuticals contain significant amounts of guarana, it is imperative to keep the following risks and adverse effects in mind:
- Cardiovascular diseases (12)
- Difficulty during pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Hypersensitivity (allergies)
- Cardiac arrhythmia and related troubles in athletes engaged in strenuous physical activity
What’s The Verdict?
Guarana is one of the most exotic contributions of the Amazon. In addition to its attractive appearance, this fruit has bountiful benefits.
It has potent antioxidant, antinociceptivei XIt refers to the property (of a substance) to reduce the sensation of pain or increase pain tolerance. , diuretic, lipolytic, neurostimulating, antipyretici XRefers to the property of a substance or medicine to reduce a high body temperature to normal. , rejuvenating, and invigorating effects on your body.
So pick up a guarana supplement from the list mentioned above or buy some guarana fruits from a store!
Caffeine-rich guarana is native to the Amazon rainforest. Traditional medicine uses the fruits, seeds, and leaves of guarana. Guarana benefits can be attributed to its wide spectrum of nutrients, including saponins, polysaccharides, fats, acylglycerols, and choline. These nutrients may help relieve anxiety and boost energy levels. Furthermore, guarana is good for your skin and hair. It may also inhibit the growth of bacteria and can suppress appetite. You can take guarana supplements to reap its benefits. It may, however, cause allergies, diarrhea, nausea, and heart problems if taken in excess. Consult your health care provider before consumption.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is guarana safe to take everyday?
It is okay to take it in doses mentioned above. You should not overdo it to avoid the possible side effects.
Does guarana increase dopamine?
Yes, rich in caffeine, guarana can help release dopamine and other feel good hormones into your system (13).
Is guarana FDA approved?
No, being an herb, it is not approved by the FDA.
- Guarana can help reduce anxiety, improve cognitive performance, cleanse the scalp, and aid in weight management.
- The recommended dosage of guarana is between 200 to 800 mg.
- Excess consumption of guarana may cause hypersensitivity and nausea.
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