Everything You Need To Know About Guarana

Everything You Need To Know About Guarana

Coffee is no longer the sovereign caffeine king. Though famed for its caffeine content and used by millions to wake up in the morning, there’s another berry that provides a more potent stimulating kick. Meet guarana!

Guarana is a small, reddish-brown berry native to the Amazon basin. It might appear innocent, but this minute fruit is true rocket fuel. Guarana contains 4–6 times the amount of caffeine that coffee does, which makes it the king of the caffeine realm. Each berry houses a caffeine content of up to 4.5%.

Guarana provides a strong and energizing effect on our minds. If you’re looking for motivation and focus during long working hours, then look no further. But it’s not just caffeine that provides the kick—this fruit also produces stimulants theophylline and theobromine, which contribute to the buzz. As well as its impressive caffeine content, this berry also boasts several medicinal effects—it’s loaded with DNA-protecting antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Let’s take a closer look at this mighty berry and discover its numerous benefits.

What Is Guarana?

What is guarana?

Guarana (Paullinia cupana, paullinia, Brazilian cocoa, guarana bread) is a plant native to the Amazon rainforest. It can be found in Venezuela and some parts of Brazil. As a climbing shrub, the plant clings to and grows up on other plants, where it can reach a height of 12 metres. The guarana plant produces small red or brown berries about the size of coffee beans, with a peculiar appearance that resembles eyeballs.

The berries and seeds of the guarana plant are very high in caffeine, and are particularly rich in antioxidants and other valuable compounds. This gives guarana a stimulating effect as well as numerous medicinal properties. Energising beverages made from guarana extract are very popular in Brazil. But guarana is also becoming popular in the West as of late. In health shops, you can now commonly find guarana supplements such as guarana powder, extracts, and capsules.

Types Of Guarana

Types of guarana

In recent years, guarana has become quite popular beyond South American borders. There are various ways you can now consume guarana:

  • Roasted guarana seeds (guarana em rama)

Roasted guarana seeds are quite similar to roasted chestnuts. The roasted “guarana nuts” are normally sold by guarana farmers in the Amazon. The roasted seeds are then made into powders or extracts.

  • Guarana powder and extracts

This is the type of guarana you will commonly see sold in health stores and similar places. You can easily use the guarana powder to make beverages. You can also use it if you want to make guarana pastes and tinctures. Extracts are a more concentrated form of guarana powder, with more of the active ingredients per dose. You can also find capsules with guarana powder or extracts. These are perhaps the most convenient way to dose guarana.

  • Guarana on a stick

Guarana on a stick is the traditional method of use and storage of guarana. Some believe that this type of guarana is stronger than other types, especially if the sticks are made by hand. For making the guarana sticks, the guarana seeds are first roasted and then ground into a powder. Water is added, and the guarana paste is made into dough and put on a stick. Afterwards, the “guarana on a stick” is dried over fire until it becomes hard.

  • Guarana syrup

This one is less common, but is slowly gaining popularity in Brazil’s beverage industry.

How Guarana Works

As guarana contains caffeine, it interacts with the body by stimulating the nervous system as well as the heart and muscles. Besides teeming with caffeine, guarana also contains theophylline and theobromine, which also have stimulating properties, making guarana a hugely popular ingredient in energy drinks and similar products.

Guarana Vs Coffee

Guarana vs coffee

Coffee is not for everyone. The bitter taste and short-lived energy burst can leave many of us wanting an alternative. In this case, guarana may be a perfect choice.

One of the main advantages of guarana over coffee is the duration of the stimulation. The boost in energy provided by guarana is much longer lasting than that of coffee; plus, the stimulation is typically less jittery and more clear in character. Guarana is absorbed slowly by the body, resulting in a long-lasting energy release over several hours—a stark contrast to the fast rush and crash experienced with coffee.

Due to their similarities, coffee and guarana are common bedfellows. In fact, when directly compared in terms of caffeine content, guarana seeds contain 4–6% per bean, whereas white coffee beans only have around 2%.

However, guarana not only contains higher amounts of caffeine than coffee, but also houses other alkaloids and fats that have the potential to suppress sensations of hunger and thirst. This is one of the main reasons guarana is often utilised in weight loss programmes. Also, since only a tiny amount of the powder is needed, virtually no calories are ingested.

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The natural heat that guarana creates within the body is known as thermogenesis—a normal metabolic process that aids the breakdown of stored body fat into energy. While the caffeine present in both coffee and guarana is known to facilitate this, the theobromine and theophylline found in the latter enhance it further.

As a result, guarana is an extremely viable and, in many aspects, preferable alternative to coffee. It delivers sustained energy without the jitters, and it packs healthy antioxidants. It could be argued that the quick rush from coffee is what some people need in the morning to become immediately alert; however, swapping coffee for guarana as a daytime drink could potentially release more sustainable energy to get you through a hard day's work.

What Are The Potential Benefits Of Using Guarana?

What are the potential benefits of using guarana?

As we know, guarana is highly favoured for its stimulating properties. But what else is it capable of? Allow us to elaborate.

Contains High Amounts Of Antioxidants

Guarana contains a substantial amount of antioxidant molecules, including tannins, saponins, and catechins. These antioxidants work together to neutralise harmful molecules in the body, known as free radicals. A study carried out in 2017 demonstrates the effectiveness of guarana against free radical molecules (Peixoto et al.)

May Increase Focus

Guarana is also thought to potentially boost focus and concentration. This is thanks not only to the caffeine content itself, but to the fact that adenosine—a compound responsible for helping your brain to relax—is blocked from being released, in turn keeping users focused (Davis et al., 2003).

May Impact Nociception

Historically, guarana was used in Amazonian tribes to address physical discomfort. As well as impacting focus, adenosine receptors are partially responsible for nociception—i.e. the sensory nervous system’s detection of painful stimuli. Research has demonstrated guarana's ability to bind to A1 and A2A receptors, which may in turn impact nociception (Baratloo et al., 2016).

May Impact Weight And Metabolism

Though we've briefly touched upon the subject, guarana has long been associated with weight management. It's thought to not only act as an appetite suppressant, but, due to its high levels of caffeine, may also increase metabolism, meaning calories are burnt faster (Dulloo et al., 1989).

May Have A Positive Impact On Heart Health

Although heart health is a hugely complex topic, numerous studies have sought to determine if guarana has any positive impact on this essential organ. Some scientists have noted that the rich levels of antioxidants within the substance may help to regulate blood flow and impact blood clot formation (Ravi Subbiah & Yunker, 2008). However, this research is inconclusive.

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What Are The Side Effects Of Guarana?

Though generally mild, there are some side effects associated with using guarana. If you have any concerns, you should always consult a medical professional before taking guarana. It's worth noting that pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid taking guarana.

Side effects include the following, many of which occur when guarana is taken in excess:

  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Heart palpitations
  • Seizures
  • Shaking
  • Diarrhoea

How To Consume Guarana

How to consume guarana

There are numerous ways to enjoy guarana. As mentioned, it's a wildly popular ingredient in energy drinks. However, it can also be purchased in powdered form, where it can be used in much the same way as instant coffee. Simply place some in a cup with some hot water, and you'll have a pick-me-up any time you need it. Guarana powder can also be added to smoothies and juices for an extra kick.

However, if you're looking for something a little more “on the go”, you can also opt for guarana capsules, which can easily be taken at your convenience.

How Can You Try Guarana For Yourself?

Of course, a quick visit to your local supermarket will open up some options when it comes to guarana-based energy drinks. But if you're looking for top-quality guarana supplements and powders, Zamnesia stocks a variety of options to suit all needs. Guarana is also a prevalent ingredient in other vitamins and capsules, so there are numerous ways to introduce some guarana goodness into your life. Explore the Zamnesia webshop today!

References
  • Alireza Baratloo, Alaleh Rouhipour, Mohammad Mehdi Forouzanfar, Saeed Safari, Marzieh Amiri, & Ahmed Negida. (June 01, 2016). The Role of Caffeine in Pain Management: A Brief Literature Review - https://brieflands.com
  • Davis, J. M., Zhao, Z., Stock, H. S., Mehl, K. A., Buggy, J., & Hand, G. A. (2016). Central nervous system effects of caffeine and adenosine on fatigue - https://journals.physiology.org
  • Dimitrios Moustakas, Michael Mezzio, Branden R. Rodriguez, Mic Andre Constable, Margaret E. Mulligan, & Evelyn B. Voura. (2015). Guarana Provides Additional Stimulation over Caffeine Alone in the Planarian Model - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  • Peixoto, Herbenya, Roxo, Mariana, Röhrig, Teresa, Richling, Elke, Wang, Xiaojuan, Wink, & Michael. (2017/9). Anti-Aging and Antioxidant Potential of Paullinia cupana var. sorbilis: Findings in Caenorhabditis elegans Indicate a New Utilization for Roasted Seeds of Guarana - https://www.mdpi.com
  • Ravi Subbiah, & Yunker. (2008). Studies on the Nature of Anti-Platelet Aggregatory Factors in the Seeds of the Amazonian Herb Guarana (Paullinia cupana) - https://econtent.hogrefe.com
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