A Beginner's Guide to Guarana

A Beginner's Guide to Guarana

Latin name: Paullinia Cupana
Origin: South America
Alternative names:
Guarana Kletterstrauch
Brazilian Cocoa

Parts used: Seed, fruit


Energy and Vitality

Also known as “Nature’s Rocket Fuel”, the Guarana bean holds more natural caffeine than any other plant – for this reason it was once demonised as a dangerous form of supercharged caffeine. The active ingredient in the Guarana plant is guaranine – chemically identical to caffeine. However, in its natural form it is bound to the fibre of the seeds, meaning its stimulating component is released slowly, giving you hours of energy.

A study conducted at the University of Tasmania entitled, “Psychological and Cardiovascular Effects of Guaraná and Yerba Mate: A Comparison with Coffee” found that Guarana produced the greatest alertness and improvement in the performance of mental tasks. Whilst coffee produced a peak in alertness after 30 – 45 minutes, this rapidly fell away in comparison to the effects of guarana which were still continuing, and increasing, after 150 minutes. This is due to its naturally occurring caffeine being released slowly, thus maintaining a steady supply of natural energy.

Guarana doesn’t just rely on guaranine to provide energy and stamina – it contains xanthines which have been shown to enhance physical and mental performance. Also containing flavonoids and alkaloids, in clinical studies alkaloids were shown to stimulate the myocardium and central nervous system, enhancing alertness and reducing fatigue.

Weight Loss

Guarana not only gives a physical and mental boost, it also contributes to weight loss with its promotion of thermogenesis – the way our bodies convert food to fuel. It does this through nutritional stimulation of the beta-adrenergic receptor pathway, this then breaks down stored fat, which stimulates lipid migration and allows the fats to be turned into energy.

Used for centuries by the Guarani Tribe as a natural appetite suppressant, they would consume guarana when about to undergo extensive periods of fasting. This effect is thought to be caused by the unique set of compounds in Guarana slowing down the rate at which food is absorbed – leaving you feeling fuller for longer.

Antioxidant Rich

Guarana is powerfully antioxidant – this is thought to be due to the phytochemicals; procyanidin, catechin and tannin.  When we lose weight, our fat cells can oxidise as they are broken down before leaving the body, this will cause “oxidative stress” producing free radicals.  This effect makes it especially important to eat a diet rich in antioxidants if we are embarking on a weight loss programme - using guarana will help to motivate us to do the exercise, keep our energy levels up, act as a natural appetite suppressant and supply our bodies with the antioxidants it requires – especially as we lose weight.

Folklore and history

According to Amazonian legend, the Guarana plant emerged from human eyes - the name means 'looking like living people'.  Its refreshing properties have been enshrined in the folklore and customs of the Guarani peoples and it plays a particularly important role in Tupi and Guarani Brazilian culture. It is used to make a drink by shelling and washing the seeds, followed by pounding them into a fine powder. The powder is kneaded into a dough then shaped into cylinders, making Guarana bread or Brazilian cocoa - this would then be grated and immersed into hot water along with sugar.

Traditional use

Native to the exotic Brazilian rainforest, the indigenous peoples consider Guarana the “Elixir of Youth” and deem it as valuable as gold due to its myriad of health benefitting effects.

The Sateré-Mawé tribe are thought to have discovered the therapeutic effects of Guarana, using it for many aspects of life, including social celebrations, for menstrual pains and after childbirth and to increase stamina. With a history stretching back to ancient times, the Amazonian peoples prepare many ointments and medicinal preparations from the seeds to this day.

Typical use

Guarana Powder - 1 to 4 grams can be taken daily, spread throughout the day. Guarana is very high in caffeine and can cause insomnia if taken in the evening. 
Guarana Tincture - 1-4 ml per day. Can be taken throughout the day in small servings or as directed by a Herbal Practitioner.


Caffeine, also known as guaranine, phenols, tannins, theophylline, theobromine, alkaloids, terpenes, flavanoids, starch, and saponins.


Guarana is not recommended during pregnancy or breast feeding. It is contraindicative for people with high blood pressure, cardiac disorders, diabetes, ulcers, epilepsy and other chronic illnesses.

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