The main compound in Guarana is guaranin, which is identical to caffeine. Like the thein in green tea and matein in yerba mate, guaranin is another synonym for caffeine. Besides, Guarana contains theophylline, theobromine and a number of xanthine alkaloids which modulate the effects of the caffeine.
Caffeine acts as a stimulant, triggering feelings of alertness and focus. This is enhanced further by theophylline and theobromine, which stimulate the heart and central nervous system to alleviate fatigue and increase mental acuity. Both theophylline and theobromine also have strong diuretic traits, reducing constriction of the bronchioles in the lungs, thus potentially helping with conditions such as asthma.
In addition to their stimulating effects, the compounds found within Guarana allow them to act as efficient antioxidants. Research has shown that even at low doses, Guarana prevents the process of lipid peroxidation. It has also been found to significantly increase blood glucose levels, as well as suprpess exercise induced hypoglycaemia (in mice).
As a result of research, the use of Guarana is growing significantly is Western countries as a natural stimulant, health food and coffee alternative. It is now contained in many natural tonics, protein bars, herbal formulas and energy drinks. However, caution is advised when choosing products, as a number of shady manufacturers mislabel their products as containing Guarana when they do not. In these cases, it is often just caffeine that has been added in.