Dried and powdered
Flavanoids, quercetin, avicularin, guaijverin
Guarana from the Portuguese guaraná , Paullinia cupana, syn. P. crysan, P. sorbilis) is a climbing plant in themaple family, Sapindaceae, native to the Amazon basin and especially common in Brazil. Guarana features large leaves and clusters of flowers, and is best known for its fruit, which is about the size of a coffee bean. As a dietary supplement, guarana is an effective stimulant: its seeds contain about twice the concentration of caffeine found in coffee beans (about 2–4.5% caffeine in guarana seeds compared to 1–2% for coffee beans).
As with other plants producing caffeine, the high concentration of caffeine is a defensive toxin that repels herbivores from the berry and its seeds.
The guarana fruit's color ranges from brown to red and contains black
seeds which are partly covered by white arils. The color contrast when
the fruit has been split open has been likened to eyeballs; this has formed
the basis of a myth.
History and culture
The word guarana comes from the Guaraní word guara-ná, which has its
origins in the Sateré-Maué word for the plant, warana, that in
Tupi-Guarani means "fruit like the eyes of the people".
Guarana plays an important role in Tupi and Guaraní Paraguayan culture. According to a myth attributed to the Sateré-Maué tribe, guarana's domestication originated with a deity killing a beloved village child. To console the villagers, a more benevolent god plucked the left eye from the child and planted it in the forest, resulting in the wild variety of guarana. The god then plucked the right eye from the child and planted it in the village, giving rise to domesticated guarana.
The Guaranís would make an herbal tea by shelling, washing and drying the seeds, followed by pounding them into a fine powder. The powder is kneaded into a dough and then shaped into cylinders. This product is known as guarana bread, which would be grated and then immersed into hot water along with sugar.
This plant was introduced to European colonizers and to Europe in the 16th century by Oviedo, Hernández, Cobo and other Spaniard chroniclers. By 1958, guarana was commercialized.
Guarana is used in sweetened or carbonated soft drinks and energy shots, an ingredient of herbal teas or contained in capsules. Generally, South America obtains most of its caffeine from guarana.
Brazil, which is the third-largest consumer of soft drinks in the world, produces several soft drink brands from guarana extract. The Portuguese word guaraná is widely used in Brazil as a reference to soft drinks containing guarana extract. Guarana in energy drinks is known to help athletes recover from strains and aches in legs, mainly quadriceps and hamstrings.
As guarana is rich in caffeine, it is of interest for its potential effects on cognition. In rats, guarana increased memory retention and physical endurance when compared with a placebo.
A randomized controlled trial has shown that cognition may be improved with guarana.
Other uses and side effects
In the United States, guarana has received the designation of "generally recognized as safe" by the American Food and Drug Administration.
Preliminary research has shown guarana may affect how quickly the body perceives itself to be full. One study showed an average 5.1 kg (11.2 lb) weight loss in a group taking a mixture of yerba mate, guarana, and damiana, compared to an average one-pound loss in a placebo group after 45 days. Although inconclusive about specific effects due only to guarana, this study differs from another showing no effect on body weight of a formula containing guarana. Guarana extract reduced aggregation of rabbit platelets by up to 37 percent below control values and decreased platelet thromboxane formation from arachidonic acid by 78 percent below control values. It is not known if such platelet action has any effect on the risk of heart attack or ischemic stroke.