Guaraná is an evergreen vine indigenous to the Amazon basin. The vast majority of guaraná is grown in a small area in northern Brazil. Guaraná gum or paste is derived from the seeds and is used in herbal preparations.
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For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
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Some athletes take guaraná, which contains caffeine, during their training, although there is no scientific research to support this use.
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Guaraná contains caffeine and the closely related alkaloids theobromine and theophylline, these compounds may curb appetite and increase weight loss.
The herb guaraná contains caffeine and the closely related alkaloids theobromine and theophylline; these compounds may curb appetite and increase weight loss. Caffeine’s effects are well known and include central nervous system stimulation, increased metabolic rate, and a mild diuretic effect.2 In a double-blind trial, 200 mg per day of caffeine was, however, no more effective than a placebo in promoting weight loss.3 Because of concerns about potential adverse effects, many doctors do not advocate using caffeine or caffeine-like substances to reduce weight.
The indigenous people of the Amazon rain forest have used crushed guaraná seed as a beverage and a medicine. Guaraná was used to treat diarrhea, decrease fatigue, reduce hunger, and to help arthritis.1 It also has a history of use in treating hangovers from alcohol abuse and headaches related to menstruation.
Caffeine and the closely related alkaloids theobromine and theophylline make up the primary active constituents in guaraná. Caffeine’s effects are well known and include stimulating the central nervous system, increasing metabolic rate, and having a mild diuretic effect.4 One preliminary trial found no significant actions on thinking or mental function in humans taking guaraná.5 Guaraná also contains tannins, which act as astringents and may prevent diarrhea. However, this action has not been studied in human clinical trials.
A cup of guaraná, prepared by adding 1/4–1/2 teaspoon (1–2 grams) of crushed seed or resin to 1 cup (250 ml) of water and boiling for ten minutes, can be consumed three times per day.6 Each cup may provide up to 50 mg of caffeine.
Certain medicines interact with this supplement.
Guaraná (Paullinia cupana) is a plant with a high caffeine content. Combining caffeine drug products and guaraná increases caffeine-induced side effects.
1. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 349.
2. Leung A, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. NewYork: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 293–4.
3. Astrup A, Breum L, Toubro S, et al. The effect and safety of an ephedrine/caffeine compound compared to ephedrine, caffeine and placebo in obese subjects on an energy restricted diet. A double blind trial. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 1992;16:269–77.
4. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 293–4.
5. Galduroz JC, Carlini EA. The effects of long-term administration of guaraná on the cognition of normal, elderly volunteers. Rev Paul Med 1996;114:1073–8.
6. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 349.
7. Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C, et al. (eds). PDR for Herbal Medicines. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics, 1998, 1017–8.
Last Review: 02-05-2013
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