name = Guarana

regnum = Plantae
unranked_divisio = Angiosperms
unranked_classis = Eudicots
unranked_ordo = Rosids
ordo = Sapindales
familia = Sapindaceae
genus = "Paullinia"
species = "P. cupana"
binomial = "Paullinia cupana"
binomial_authority = Kunth|

Guarana (Portuguese guaraná) (IPA2|ɡu̯a.ra.'na, IPA| [ɡu̯a.ɾa.'na] or IPA| [ɡu̯a.'ɹ] ), "Paullinia cupana" (syn. "P. crysan, P. sorbilis"), is a climbing plant in the Sapindaceae family, native to the Amazon basin and especially common in Brazil. Guarana features large leaves and clusters of flowers, and is best known for its fruit, which is about the size of a coffee berry. Each fruit harbors one seed which contains approximately five times as much caffeine as coffee beans.Bennett Alan Weinberg, and Bonnie K.Bealer, The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug (New York: Routledge, 2001) 259-60]

As is generally the case with plants producing caffeine, guarana evolved such a concentration because caffeine is a defensive toxin that repels pathogens from the berry and its seeds. [ [ Ashihara H, Sano H, Crozier A. Caffeine and related purine alkaloids: biosynthesis, catabolism, function and genetic engineering. Phytochemistry. 2008 Feb;69(4):841-56.] ]

The guarana fruit's color ranges from brown to red and contains black seeds which are partly covered by white arils. The color contrast when the fruit has been split open has been likened to eyeballs; this has formed the basis of a myth.cite book | author=Sir Ghillean Prance, Mark Nesbitt | title=Cultural History of Plants | publisher=Routledge | year=2004 | location=New York | page=179]

History and culture

The word "guarana" comes from the Portuguese "guaraná," which has its origins in the Sateré-Maué word "warana".cite web | url= | title=guarana | publisher=Merriam Webster | accessdate=2007-09-18]

Guarana plays an important role in Tupi and Guaraní Brazilian culture. According to a myth dating back to the Sateré-Maué tribe, guarana's domestication originated with a deity killing a beloved village child. In order to console the villagers, a more benevolent god plucked the left eye from the child and planted it in the forest, resulting in the wild variety of guarana. The god then plucked the right eye from the child and planted it in the village, giving rise to domesticated guarana.Hans T. Beck, "10 Caffeine, Alcohol, and Sweeteners," Cultural History of Plants, ed. Sir Ghillean Prance and Mark Nesbitt (New York: Routledge, 2004) 179]

The Guaranís would make tea by shelling and washing the seeds, followed by pounding them into a fine powder. The powder is kneaded into a dough and then shaped into cylinders. This product is known as guarana bread or Brazilian cocoa, which would be grated and then immersed into hot water along with sugar.

This plant was introduced to western civilization in the 17th century following its discovery by Father Felip Betendorf. By 1958, guarana was commercialized.


Below are some of the chemicals found in guarana.cite web | url= | title=Guarana | publisher=Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases | date=2007-09-18 | accessdate=2007-09-18] Duke, James A. 1992. "Handbook of phytochemical constituents of GRAS herbs and other economic plants." Boca Raton, FL. CRC Press.]

According to the Biological Magnetic Resonance Data Bank, when guaranine is defined as only the caffeine chemical in guarana, it is identical to the caffeine chemical derived from other sources, for example coffee, tea, and mate. Guaranine, theine, and mateine are all synonyms for caffeine when the definitions of those words include none of the properties and chemicals of their host plants except the chemical caffeine. [cite web |url= |title=Caffeine |publisher=Biological Magnetic Resonance Data Bank, University of Wisconsin-Madison |accessdate=2007-09-19] Natural sources of caffeine contain widely varying mixtures of xanthine alkaloids other than caffeine, including the cardiac stimulants theophylline and theobromine and other substances such as polyphenols which can form insoluble complexes with caffeine. [cite book
author = Balentine D. A., Harbowy M. E. and Graham H. N.
title = Tea: the Plant and its Manufacture; Chemistry and Consumption of the Beverage
journal = Caffeine
year = 1998
editor = G Spiller


Guarana is used in sweetened or carbonated soft drinks and energy shots, an ingredient of herbal tea or contained in capsules. Generally, while South America obtains most of its caffeine from guarana,Bennett Alan Weinberg, and Bonnie K.Bealer, The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug (New York: Routledge, 2001) 230] many other Western countries are beginning to witness use of guarana in various energy and superfruit products. [ [ Gross PM. Superfruits take center stage: defining an emergent category, "Natural Products Information Center", February 2007] ]


Brazil, which is the third-largest consumer of soft drinks in the world,Bennett Alan Weinberg, and Bonnie K. Bealer, The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug (New York: Routledge, 2001) 192-3] produces several soft drink brands from guarana extract. Exceeding Brazilian sales of cola drinks, [cite web | url= | title=Guarana's potent reputation makes consumers drink it up | author=Matt Moffett and Nikhil Deogun, The Wall Street Journal | publisher=Standard-Times | accessdate=2007-09-18] guarana-containing beverages may cause associated with drinking coffee, a perception that could be a placebo effect or result from another substance.

Cognitive effects

Because guaranine is chemically equivalent to caffeine, guarana is of interest for its potential effects on cognition. In rats, guarana increased memory retention and physical endurance when compared with a placebo. [cite journal | author=Espinola EB, et al. | title=Pharmacological activity of Guarana (Paullinia cupana Mart.) in laboratory animals | journal=J Ethnopharmacol | year=1997 | pages=223–9 | volume=55 | issue=3 | doi = 10.1016/S0378-8741(96)01506-1 | unused_data=| [ Abstract.] ]

A 2007 human pilot study [Haskell CF, Kennedy DO, Wesnes KA, Milne AL, Scholey AB. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-dose evaluation of the acute behavioural effects of guarana in humans. J Psychopharmacol. 2007 Jan;21(1):65-70. [ Abstract.] ] assessed acute behavioral effects to four doses (37.5 mg, 75 mg, 150 mg and 300 mg) of guarana extract. Memory, alertness and mood were increased by the two lower doses, confirming previous results of cognitive improvement following 75 mg guarana. These studies have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or any similar government agencies, and do not imply medical or regulatory approval for use of guarana to enhance cognition.

Other uses and side-effects

In the United States, guarana holds a GRAS-status, i.e. generally recognized as safe.cite web | url= | title=Energy Drinks | esting extracts of bitter orange, green tea and guarana at rest and during treadmill walking in overweight males. Int J Obes (Lond). 2006 May;30(5):764-73. [ Abstract.] |format=PDF]

Guarana extract reduced aggregation of rabbit platelets by up to 37 percent below control values and decreased platelet thromboxane formation from arachidonic acid by 78 percent below control values. [cite journal | author=Bydlowski SP, et al. | title=An aqueous extract of guarana (Paullinia cupana) decreases platelet thromboxane synthesis | journal=Braz J Med Biol Res | year=1991 | pages=421–4 | volume=24 | issue=4] It is not known if such platelet action clinically reduces the risk of heart attack or ischemic stroke. [cite journal | author=Nicolaou, KC et al. | title=Synthesis and biological properties of pinane-thromboxane A2, a selective inhibitor of coronary artery constriction, platelet aggregation, and thromboxane formation | journal=Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA | year=1979 | pages=2566–2570 | volume=76 | issue=6 | pmid=288046 | doi = 10.1073/pnas.76.6.2566]

Other laboratory studies showed antioxidant and antibacterial effects, and also fat cell reduction in mice (when combined with conjugated linoleic acid) from chronic intake of guarana. [cite journal | author=Terpstra, et al. | title=The Decrease in Body Fat in Mice Fed Conjugated Linoleic Acid Is Due to Increases in Energy Expenditure and Energy Loss in the Excreta | journal=J Nutr | year=2002 | pages=940–945 | volume=132 | url=]

From anecdotal evidence of excessive consumption of energy drinks, guarana may contribute (alone or in combination with caffeine and taurine) to onset of seizures in some people. [Iyadurai SJ, Chung SS. New-onset seizures in adults: possible association with consumption of popular energy drinks. Epilepsy Behav. 2007 May;10(3):504-8. Epub 2007 Mar 8. [ Abstract.] ]


External links

* [ Guarana medical uses, dosage, and side effects]
* [ Guarana at USDA database]

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