Everything You Need To Know About Guarana

Guarana: Everything You Need To Know

Coffee is no longer the king of caffeine. This bean is famed for its caffeine content and is used by millions to wake up in the morning, but there’s a berry that provides a much 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?

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.

Guarana - Paullinia CupanaView guarana


Benefits Of Guarana— Medicinal Use

Guarana contains caffeine, which makes some of its effects comparable to a very strong coffee. But it isn't just an effective stimulant. It has a variety of useful applications that go beyond that.


With its stimulating and metabolism-boosting effect, caffeine can be beneficial for those who want to lose or maintain their weight. It increases alertness and focus, and can improve physical performance. This makes caffeine, which is plentiful in guarana, useful if you’re exercising. It helps you burn more energy so that the body can lose more stored fat. This way, it can support additional weight loss.

This beneficial effect isn’t just anecdotal. Research published[1] in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics in 2002 examined the effects of an herbal mixture composed of guarana, yerba mate, and damiana on overweight people in a study over the course of 45 days. The study concluded that those who took the supplement lost 5kg of body weight on average, and that they were able to maintain their weight better.


While guarana can provide the benefits of a strong cup of coffee, it actually goes above and beyond the capabilities of a cup of joe. Yes, just like coffee it can wake you up in the morning and provide you with mental focus and clarity. But guarana also “provides additional stimulation over caffeine alone” according to a study published[2] in 2015.

In the study, it was found that guarana contains a host of stimulating compounds that work in synergy with the caffeine to keep your mind awake and alert. What’s more, unlike drinking coffee, the caffeine in guarana is released more slowly into the system, allowing the stimulating effect to last much longer and with less negative effects as compared to coffee.

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Guarana is particularly rich in antioxidants, which are compounds that can help prevent cell damage in the body. Just as in green tea, guarana contains catechin, a flavonoid that actively helps avert oxidative damage to cells, helping to prevent the signs of ageing. In addition, guarana has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. This way, it can help with inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, can reduce the risk for infection, and can also be useful as a natural remedy to get better if you’re ill with the cold.


Athletes are not only able to take advantage of the energising effects of guarana[3]. Guarana can also prevent the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles, which is one cause for sore muscles. This way, you can exercise longer and your muscles can also recover faster after exercising.


Guarana contains many different valuable compounds. Research has found guarana to contain adenine, allantoin, alpha-copaene, anethole, caffeine, carvacrol, and caryophyllene, as well as catechins and tannins, which are flavonoids that are also found in tea. It also contains catechu-tannic acid, glucose, dimethylpropyl phenol, choline, dimethylbenzene, estragole, guanine, hypoxanthine, as well as nicotinic acid, limonene, mucilage, proanthocyanidins, theobromine, theophylline, timbonine, and xanthine.


Thanks to the caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine found in the plant, one of guarana’s most popular uses is as a strong but steady stimulant. Theophylline, for example, has been found to stimulate the heart and central nervous system, where it improves focus and alertness. Theophylline has also diuretic properties. Those who suffer from asthma report that guarana helps them to breathe better since it reduces constriction of the bronchioles.

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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.



Just as with coffee or any other food or beverage that contains caffeine, guarana is generally considered safe if you take it in recommended doses. On the other hand, you should be cautious with concentrated forms of guarana, such as extracts or guarana syrups. These can contain copious amounts of caffeine exceeding 5x the caffeine of a cup of coffee. So make sure that you always stick to the recommended dose and know how to properly prepare your guarana, depending on the product you are using.


Guarana is a stimulant that contains caffeine. As such, it can possibly result in increased heart rate, sleeping troubles, and nervousness, especially if taken in excess. People with a low tolerance to caffeine and those with heart problems or hypertension should avoid it.

What’s also important to know is that many supplements containing guarana, particularly products that help with weight loss, may also contain other stimulants such as ephedra, nutmeg, kola nut, or yerba mate. These stimulants on their own can at times also have effects that you should know about before you take such a supplement.

If you have any doubts or questions about whether guarana is safe to use, you should always ask your doctor first. This is especially true if you have any existing health condition and/or if you’re taking certain medications. Be aware that guarana may also carry a risk for dependency, as is the case with all stimulants.



If you get guarana in powder form, you can simply mix it into water or juice to make a delicious beverage. You can add sugar, honey, or milk to taste. This makes for a tasty alternative to your daily cup of coffee!

The most convenient way to take guarana is probably in capsule form. In well-sorted health stores, you may also find guarana smart drinks and bubble gum that are ready to consume.

If you happen to find guarana sticks, you can enjoy these just like a lollipop. But you can also use a knife and grate the powder off the stick and then mix the powder into a beverage.


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 the main advantages of Guarana over coffee is the duration of the stimulation. Guarana energy is much longer lasting than coffee, plus the stimulation is less jittery and more clear in character. Guarana is absorbed slowly by the body. This results in a long lasting energy release over hours - a stark contrast to the fast rush and crash experienced with coffee.

Guarana not only contains higher amounts of caffeine than coffee, it also contains other alkaloids and fats that suppress the sensation of hunger and thirst. This is one of the reasons why Guarana is often used in weight loss programs. Also, since only a small amount of the powder is needed, there are virtually no calories being ingested, which further is ideal for anyone looking to loose weight.

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

As a result, Guarana is an extremely viable, and in many aspects preferable alternative to coffee. It delivers much longer lasting energy without the jitters, plus it packs healthy antioxidants. It could be argued that the quick rush from coffee is what you need in the morning; however, switching coffee for Guarana as a daytime drink can release more sustainable energy to get you through a hard days work.


The guarana plant has divided compound leaves and develops loose clusters of yellow flowers. The fruit has the shape of a small pear, with three sides and three compartments where each contains a small chestnut-like seed encased in a soft, whitish-coloured flesh. The botanical name for guarana, Paullinia cupana, was given by early 18th-century German medical botanist C.F. Paullini.



The name “guarana” comes from the Guarani tribe of the Amazon rainforest, who have long used the plant’s seeds to make guarana. Guarana plays an important role in their culture, where the plant is believed to have magical attributes. The tribe used guarana as a cure for various ailments and as an energy-boosting stimulant. The Guarani also have a mythical explanation for the unique, eyeball-like appearance of the guarana berries. Legend says that the plant did not come from a seed, but from the eyes of a divine child who was killed by a snake.

It is believed that natives of the Amazonian region in South America have used the guarana plant long before Brazil was “discovered” and colonised. They cultivated the plant, dried and roasted the seeds, and mixed them with water to make a paste. The guarana paste was then used to make beverages, foods, and medicines. One common use for guarana was (and still is) as a natural energy drink for more strength and stamina. It was also often taken during long periods of fasting where it helped prevent gastric problems such as diarrhoea and upset stomach.

Modern botanists also claim that guarana experienced sustained use as a medicine for a variety of health conditions. The natives used it as a pain-reliever for joint, nerve, and muscle pain, and for headaches and migraines. They also used the plant to treat hypertension, to promote a healthy heart, and for a number of other medicinal uses.

Historically, the curious effects of guarana were largely known by native tribes as well as by a handful of explorers and settlers in the new continent. It was only in the mid-20th century that European researchers in Germany and France started to study the plant. While its uses had only been anecdotal up to that point, the researchers were able to confirm its stimulating and medicinal benefits.

In recent times, guarana has become popular as a natural stimulant that can increase mental alertness, as well as fight fatigue and tiredness. It is very popular especially in Brazil, where guarana is widely enjoyed as a drink that helps people overcome heat fatigue. It is also still used as a natural remedy for all types of ailments and conditions that range from obesity, fever, and bloating to heart problems and arteriosclerosis, stomach troubles, and for relief from various pains. People also take it to prevent signs of premature ageing.

In numerous South America countries, and recently also in Europe and the US, guarana can be found in various beauty products such as oils and creams for treating cellulite and toning the skin. As an ingredient in shampoos, it helps with oily hair and promotes healthy hair growth thanks to its astringent properties.


Guarana is an effective stimulant that has been shown to have various benefits. Maybe you want to lose some weight or you’re looking for a mental boost so you can stay up at night studying. It doesn’t always have to be coffee! Give guarana a try and enjoy all the benefits for yourself!

We are not making medical claims. This article has been written for informational purposes only, and is based on research published by other externals sources.

External Resources:
  1. Error - Cookies Turned Off - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1365-277X.2001.00290.x
  2. Guarana Provides Additional Stimulation over Caffeine Alone in the Planarian Model - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4399916/
  3. - https://www.researchgate.net
  4. - https://ods.od.nih.gov