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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3 StarsReliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 StarsContradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 StarFor an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
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Some athletes take guaraná during their training; however, there is no scientific research to support this use. Guaraná contains caffeine. Another caffeine-containing herb sometimes used during training is kola nut.
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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. The indigenous people of the Amazon rain forest have used crushed guaraná seed as a beverage and a medicine to treat diarrhea, decrease fatigue, reduce hunger, and to help arthritis.2
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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.3 In a double-blind trial, 200 mg per day of caffeine was, however, no more effective than a placebo in promoting weight loss.4 Because of concerns about potential adverse effects, many doctors do not advocate using caffeine or caffeine-like substances to reduce weight.
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
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.
How It Works
How It Works
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.5 One preliminary trial found no significant actions on thinking or mental function in humans taking guaraná.6 Guaraná also contains tannins, which act as astringents and may prevent diarrhea. However, this action has not been studied in human clinical trials.
How to Use It
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.7 Each cup may provide up to 50 mg of caffeine.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions 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.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
As with any caffeinated product, guaraná may cause insomnia, trembling, anxiety, palpitations, and urinary frequency.8 Guaraná should be avoided during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
1. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 349.
2. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 349.
3. Leung A, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. NewYork: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 293–4.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 349.
8. Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C, et al. (eds). PDR for Herbal Medicines. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics, 1998, 1017–8.
The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.
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