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Everything you need to know about guarana

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What comes to mind when you say Pauline beverage? Probably nothing, but you will certainly be familiar with the seeds of this plant, which are known as guarana. It comes from the Amazon rainforest and is used commercially as an energy and weight loss supplement. At first, guarana was only popular in South America and now globally. In addition to providing long-term energy and focus, guarana extract may also improve exercise performance, fight age-related diseases and promote longevity;

Even with its widespread use, the facts about guarana, including its origins, benefits and side effects, are not widely known. What, then, is guarana? Where did it come from and how can it help you?

Where does guarana come from?

A couple from the Maué Indian tribe in the Amazon received a baby boy as a gift from the king of the gods. Jururapi, the god of darkness, was jealous of the handsome and kind man the boy grew up to be. Disguised as a snake, Jururapi bit the boy and killed him instantly. In her grief, the boy’s mother planted her son’s eyes in the dirt. The boy’s eyes grew into two types of guarana: wild and domesticated;

Some legends even claim that the guarana plant gave birth to its own child, from which Maué descended. In any case, the guarana fruit looks like an eyeball when opened. The guarana plant, a lowland climbing shrub, is native to the Amazon in Brazil. Guarana is scientifically known by its Latin name Paullinia cupana and belongs to the same plant family (Sapindaceae) as the sycamore, maple and lychee fruit.

The Maué and Guaraní tribes used the seed for hundreds of years before colonization to treat migraines, fever, dysentery and more. The plant was introduced to Western culture in the 17th century by a Jesuit missionary named Johannes Philipus Bettendorf, but was not commercialized until 1958;

Originally, guarana seeds were slowly roasted over a fire until they became guarana dough sticks. To drink the guarana, the dehydrated sticks were grated with either a stone or the bones of a pirarucu (a large Amazonian fish) over water. The drink, known as çapó, was used by all ages for its myriad benefits. Today, guarana is a popular addition to common energy drinks.

What are the benefits of guarana?

So what can guarana do for you? Guarana’s unique formula is ideal for a boost before your workday or workout and has the power to promote weight loss and protect your body. Here are 10 research-backed benefits of consuming guarana.

1. Provides clean energy

Users report that the boost in energy and concentration they get from guarana extract is not only stronger than the effects of coffee and other caffeine alternatives, but also the effects last longer. This smooth increase and decrease in energy prevents the sudden caffeine headaches that often accompany mid-afternoon slumps.

One study (link to study) investigated the energy source of guarana. The study involved 71 women aged 17 to 35 years divided into four groups: caffeinated coffee, guarana, yerba mate and a control group. Testing was repeated with and without the subjects eating lunch, and the participants’ energy levels were measured immediately, after 60 minutes, and again after 150 minutes. The study, using blood pressure, heart rate measurements, mood ratings, and reaction times, concluded that after 150 minutes, the coffee group experienced a “post-caffeine” decrease in alertness and concentration, while the guarana group did not.

2. Increases exercise performance

Guarana can also positively affect training regimens. Another study (link to study) found that active men who consumed a vitamin and mineral drink containing guarana before training felt less fatigued after a moderate-intensity run.

3. Improves cognitive function

Guarana can also improve memory, increase alertness and improve mood. It is a natural nootropic, a chemical compound that can improve memory and other brain activity. By observing flatworms and testing the effects of guarana at different doses throughout the day, researchers have found that the stimulating effects of guarana are due to more than caffeine alone (link to study). Glucose combined with guarana also enhances the stimulant effects. While the unique combination of chemicals in guarana may give you liquid energy in addition to caffeine, scientists are still trying to further understand the science behind this energy;

4. Supports weight loss

Is guarana good for weight loss? Guarana has historically been marketed as part of weight loss pills, and scientists are evaluating its usefulness in weight control. One study (link to study) divided the mice into two groups: one group was fed a high-fat diet and received a guarana supplement, while the other group was fed an identical diet but did not receive the supplement. The mice that did not receive guarana gained weight significantly during the first week of the experiment, but the mice that received guarana did not change throughout the experiment. The researchers concluded that guarana was able to prevent weight gain despite the mice following the same diet.

In another study (reference to study) guarana has demonstrated the ability to regulate gastrointestinal hormones and limit macronutrient intake in overweight women. Guarana shows great potential to improve the body’s ability to utilize nutrients and also increase the amount of mitochondria, thereby speeding up metabolism and defending against weight gain and fat accumulation;

5. Acts as an antidepressant

According to some studies, guarana extract shows promising antidepressant effects on humans. The effect of guarana has long been compared to the antidepressants Doxepin and Amitriptyline;

6. Supports cardiovascular function

Guarana consumption is associated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular metabolic disease. It may also have positive effects on lipid metabolism. Guarana has been found to act similarly to other caffeine and catechin-rich foods such as green tea, where guarana combats LDL accumulation and prevents cardiovascular disease;

7. Protects against neurodegenerative disorders

Some research even suggests that guarana is useful in treating and defending against certain neurodegenerative disorders. One study (reference and study) found that guarana may help prolong the onset of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease in susceptible patients. The exact mechanism of this behaviour still eludes scientists, but they believe that guarana has the potential to prevent the death of certain neurons, which would be useful in the fight against age-related diseases;

8. Promotes longevity

Another study (link to study) used flatworms to explore the potential uses of guarana regarding longer life. The study concluded that guarana extract extended the life span of flatworms by possibly speeding up fat metabolism. Another study found that the fat-fighting potential of guarana was due to its ability to regulate genes related to body fat accumulation. In addition, this could be aided by guarana’s ability to increase the number of mitochondria in the body, which fight fat formation because mitochondria use nutrients to produce energy.

9. It has antimicrobial properties

The guarana plant has developed certain properties over thousands of years, including a high caffeine and saponin content that help defend against microbial infections caused by various microorganisms. These defence mechanisms could also be useful in preventing disease in humans. A study found that guarana extract in mouthwash was effective in preventing cavities, plaque buildup, and other periodontal diseases.

10. Increases libido

Brazilians have claimed for hundreds of years that guarana has a powerful aphrodisiac effect. Some indigenous tribes have gone so far as to say that the guarana seed has helped them to dominate, not only militarily but also sexually;

One study (link to study) used rabbits to evaluate this claim and found that there was a positive correlation between guarana consumption and mating behavior in rabbits. Another study using Mediterranean fruit flies found that guarana increased the mating success of fruit flies.

How does guarana work in the body?

The chemical composition of guarana makes it an incredibly unique and effective functional plant. While guarana contains more caffeine on a dry weight basis than any other plant in the world (up to four times as much caffeine as coffee), caffeine does not account for the multitude of other reported benefits. Scientists attribute guarana’s additional medicinal properties to two other compounds: theobromine and theophylline, as well as tannins and saponins;


Caffeine is the first of three naturally occurring chemicals called methylxanthines. The effects of caffeine occur between 5 and 30 minutes after consumption. Caffeine acts as a central nervous system stimulant; it increases blood pressure (for a short time) and heart rate. Users report feeling more alert, more active and less tired;


Theobromine is the second xanthine found in guarana and is a bitter tasting alkaloid rich. It is a vasodilator (opens blood vessels), diuretic and heart stimulant. It acts similarly to caffeine and can help manage fatigue and orthostatic hypotension. There is also a study (link to study) suggesting that theobromine may improve your mood. The same study shows that theobromine exhibits anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties with respect to the cardiovascular system. Theobromine has also been used as a smooth muscle relaxant.


The third of the three methylxanthines found naturally in guarana, theophylline stimulates the heart and central nervous system. Synthetic forms of theophylline have been used to treat respiratory diseases for more than 70 years. Both natural and synthetic forms of theophylline are bronchodilators, relaxing the muscles around the airways. Theophylline has also been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect in asthma and COPD.


The tannins responsible for guarana’s bitter taste are naturally found in the roots, bark and fruit of many plants. Due to their astringent and binding properties, tannins have been used to treat tonsillitis, pharyngitis, hemorrhoids and open wounds. There are two types of tannins: hydrolysable tannins and condensed tannins. Condensed tannins are found in plants and can strongly affect the taste and mouthfeel of food. Tannins are abundant in red wine and are responsible for the drying sensation you feel when drinking it. The tannins present in red wine also neutralize free radicals and have been shown to be effective in preventing heart disease.


Saponins are phytochemicals that can be found in most vegetables, beans and herbs. Saponins can help reduce bad cholesterol by binding to bile salt and cholesterol in the intestines, preventing the reabsorption of cholesterol in the blood. Some studies suggest that saponins may prevent cancer cells from multiplying by binding to the cholesterol-rich membrane of cancer cells to inhibit their growth. Plants produce saponins to fight parasites, and studies suggest that saponins may boost human immunity to viruses and bacteria.


Catechins are present in guarana extract and have antioxidant properties. The antioxidant profile of guarana is similar to that of green tea. Antioxidants neutralize molecules called free radicals. Free radicals can cause cell damage that has been scientifically linked to heart disease, cancer and more.

Can guarana also have a negative impact on health?

With any caffeinated beverage or supplement, consuming too much guarana in one sitting can lead to a caffeine overdose. Due to the high caffeine content, doctors recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding women not consume large amounts of caffeine. It is important to follow the recommended daily dose (400 mg according to the FDA) to avoid the unpleasant and possible side effects of caffeine overdose.

Symptoms of a caffeine overdose can include restlessness, anxiety, dehydration, faster heart rate and stomach pain. It’s also important to remember that caffeine tolerance can vary depending on your height, weight and frequency of caffeine consumption. When consumed in appropriate doses, guarana provides benefits beyond caffeine alone.

To consume guarana or not?

It certainly does. Guarana is an Amazonian plant that is a great natural alternative to stimulants like coffee, caffeine pills and artificial energy drinks. Guarana can protect you from feeling tired, promote weight loss and boost brain function. In addition to long-lasting energy and focus, guarana has a long list of potential uses. The extract can improve your athletic performance, help you stay awake, and increase your productivity at work or in the classroom. It can also promote longevity by protecting you from age-related diseases. If you want to enjoy the full effects of guarana, you don’t need to buy unhealthy energy drinks full of sugar, instead choose natural guarana capsules, which you can find in our shop.

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