Guarana is a dried paste made from the crushed seeds of Paullinia cupana, a woody shrub native to the Brazil and the Amazon basin.
By H. S. Nemr
Source and chemical components
Caffeine is the active ingredient in Guarana (6-10% content). The seeds and fruit also contain Tannins and Saponins.
The effects of Guarana are mainly attributed to its high content of Caffeine. Although the effects of Saponins and Tannins are not completely known, they may contribute to Guarana’s actions including bronchial smooth muscle relaxation, CNS, cardiac and skeletal muscle stimulation, and increased gastric acid secretion.
Guarana provides more CNS stimulation than coffee or tea, possibly due to the effects of the plant’s fat content and Saponins on Caffeine absorption. Guarana also possesses astringent and anti-diarrheal properties.
Therapeutic and reported folk uses
Guarana has been long utilized in folk therapy as an aphrodisiac, appetite suppressant, CNS stimulant, and for managing diarrhea.
It is currently included as an ingredient in many smoking cessation products, energy drinks, body building, and weight loss products. It is also included in as an ingredient in drinks and tablets used to enhance mental acuity or relieve drowsiness.
For the dried powder or its equivalent: not more than 3 grams daily.
Guarana potentiates the effect of beta blockers; it also interferes with the clearance of Lithium.
Adverse reactions and precautions
CNS: Insomnia, agitation, irritability
GU: Diuresis, Nausea
Guarana containing products are contraindicated in patients with cardiac arrhythmias. They should be consumed with caution in patients with anxiety disorders gastric ulcer, and diabetic patients.
Guarana containing products are not advised for pregnant or breastfeeding females.
H.S. Nemr is a graduate of BAU pharmacy school. He is currently a medication safety officer at Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare system.
- Professional’s Handbook of Complementary Alternative Medicines, Springhouse, 2nd edition.