Guarana extracts have become popular energy supplements, but before you start using this potent compound, it’s important to understand all of its potential effects.
What is Guarana?
Guarana is the name of a flowering plant native to South America, scientifically known as Paullinia cupana, as well as the name of the extract derived from the seeds of that same shrub. The guarana fruit looks like a small grapefruit and may range in color from orange to brown. These clustered berries contain a single seed surrounded by an aril, but when ripe, the seed is often open or exposed. The seeds are either ground into a paste or brewed in a similar way to coffee beans.
This substance has been used by indigenous people for thousands of years and is widely known as a stimulant substance. The high concentration of caffeine in these seeds – even higher than in coffee – makes it extremely popular as a boost to the central nervous system. There has been a great deal of debate surrounding guarana in recent years, due to its presence in many energy drinks and supplements. Generally speaking, when taken in moderate doses, this stimulant substance is considered safe.
When it comes to nutrition, the guarana seeds are not rich or highly varied in vitamins or minerals, but these seeds do contain high levels of caffeine, often more than twice the concentration of caffeine in coffee. Furthermore, there are significant amounts of catechins and epicatechins in these seeds, powerful antioxidants that are also found in green tea.
Energy and Metabolism
This supplement can provide clarity and relieve headaches when taken in moderate doses. However, the headache may return when the supplement wears off.
Anxiety and Stress
Some studies have found that consuming this supplement helps to keep your heart healthy, thanks to the antioxidants present in this supplement, and the positive effects it can have on circulation.
This supplement has anti-inflammatory capabilities, which can reduce the discomfort of arthritis and other common conditions, such as gout and irritable bowel syndrome.
By boosting circulation and blood flow to the body’s extremities, this supplement does have some aphrodisiac qualities and can help overcome fertility issues.
This substance has been used as a natural analgesic for generations in South America, particularly when used following an injury or surgery.
Studies show that a single dose of guarana extract can help improve intellectual performance and cognitive function.
Powerful antioxidants, in guarana, helps improve and tighten skin tone. They also have a lightening effect, which helps remove blemishes and scars.
Caffeine and catechins, in guarana seeds, are linked with anti-platelet aggregatory activity and act as a blood thinner, effectively preventing blood clots. This could help reduce the risk of thrombosis and cardiovascular disease.
The analgesic properties of the fruit help alleviate pain from menstrual problems, joint pain, or any pain suffered from an injury.
The guarana plant is traditionally used to help prevent and treat malaria.
Many people take guarana supplements, or they have the herbal powder that they can mix into their smoothies or juice blends. There isn’t a clear dosage restriction on this substance, but most experts do not recommend consuming more than 800 mg per day.
Guarana vs Caffeine
- Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant.
- Guarana contains a high level of caffeine – up to 6% by weight!
- Guarana has other beneficial antioxidants, whereas caffeine is a singular compound.
According to a study published in the Journal of Negative Results in Biomedicine, the use of herbal food supplements containing guarana had adverse effects on people with seizures, diabetes, cardiac abnormalities, or mood and behavioral disorders or those who take certain medications. They showed signs of irritability, anxiety, and had heart palpitations.
Note: Since it is so high in caffeine, it can cause sleeplessness and energy crashes when the effects of the supplement wear off. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid using this supplement, as the high caffeine content can be dangerous for your child.