What is Guarana?
Guarana is a shrub native to Brazil. It contains seeds that are often used to make supplements like drinks, tablets and powders. The fruit is also highly caffeinated, and guarana seed extract is sometimes added to energy drinks to give them a natural boost. Brazilian natives have used this fruit for centuries, but it has now become available all over the world. In fact, the fruit’s name is actually a nod to the Amazonian tribe that first consumed it — the Guarani.
There are many benefits to taking supplements derived from the guarana plant, particularly for maintaining energy and focus. For example, athletes often use it for its stimulating effects. In addition to its high caffeine levels, this fruit also contains a range of other chemicals that have similar energy-boosting effects (such as theobromine).
Guarana is also a popular substance for treating low libido and a lack of focus while others use it to enhance weight loss. As we learn more about its effects, various benefits are becoming more evident.
There are many different benefits to taking guarana. Not only can it treat a variety of health issues, but it can also prevent them from occurring down the road.
Guarana can improve focus and energy levels, enabling users to be much more productive throughout the day. The high caffeine levels alone make a big difference in boosting energy levels — it actually contains as much as four times more caffeine than coffee (x). Guarana supplements even increase focus and reduce mental fatigue, particularly in patients with chronic conditions (x).
This South American fruit can help promote weight loss for two main reasons. The first is that the high levels of caffeine in guarana can naturally boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories (x). Moreover, it may actually suppress the genes that promote fat cell growth, although more research needs to be done on this for a conclusive result (x).
Guarana also has antibacterial properties, which makes it capable of preventing bacterial infections. In particular, guarana can help kill E. coli (x). It also suppresses bacteria that can cause tooth decay and other dental issues (x).
One of the most promising potential benefits is that it could prevent or fight against cancer. Guarana is rich in antioxidants, which naturally combats cell damage that leads to cancer as well as a variety of other chronic conditions (x). Studies on mice have also shown that guarana is capable of killing cancer cells and suppressing their growth (x). However, research has yet to be conducted on humans.
Amazonian tribes have used guarana for centuries to treat constipation and diarrhea naturally. Guarana has high levels of tannins, which are a type of antioxidant, and these can balance the water content of your digestive tract (x). This prevents constipation and keeps your digestive process regular. However, the caffeine in guarana can also speed up the process of peristalsis, so it also works as a natural laxative (x).
Emerging studies indicate that the guarana berry may improve cardiovascular system health. It seems to improve blood flow, which prevents blood clots and other dangerous cardiovascular problems (x). Additionally, guarana can also decrease oxidization of cholesterol and plaque buildup in your arteries, which can later contribute to other cardiovascular problems like heart disease and heart attacks (x). Though studies on humans are scarce, early research looks promising.
The caffeine content in guarana means it can be used as a mild pain reliever. Caffeine has long been used to reduce pain — the Amazonian tribes used it mainly to manage pain. Caffeine blocks two of the body’s most important pain receptors, which is why we don’t feel pain when we consume it in large quantities (x).
When used topically in creams or lotions, guarana can have anti-aging properties for the skin. Caffeine increases blood flow to your skin, which gives it a healthier, more vibrant look. Studies have also indicated that it can improve skin tightness and minimize the appearance of wrinkles (x). There are cosmetics on the market that contain guarana, but you can also apply guarana extract topically in small doses.
When consumed regularly over a long period of time, guarana may protect against a range of degenerative eye disorders such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts (x). It also could keep your general vision quality higher, even into old age (x). However, more research is necessary to render these claims valid.
It has been rumored that guarana is effective for treating anxiety. Studies have shown that euphytose, a product that contains guarana, could be effective for treating anxiety (x). However, other studies have not shown any significant impact (x). More research needs to be done to determine exactly how it affects the symptoms of anxiety and other mood disorders.
Amazonian tribes have used guarana to treat common health problems, such as headaches and fever. While there currently aren’t any studies to support these specific results, it has been proven to have strong stimulatory effects beyond what you would get from normal caffeine (x). These could contribute to the reduction of headaches and fever that many people experience after taking guarana.
Another possible benefit of taking guarana is an aphrodesiac effect, stimulating sex drives in people who have trouble getting or staying aroused (x). Because of its high caffeine content, it does naturally have this effect. However, people taking it for this reason must be careful not to over-consume, as this can lead to overstimulation.
How to Take Guarana
Guarana is a fruit, so the seeds and berries are both edible. Thanks to its high caffeine content, it is also a common ingredient in many energy drinks, teas and sodas. However, if you are taking guarana for health purposes, this isn’t the most efficient way to consume it. It’s generally best to take guarana in the form of a supplement.
Guarana Side Effects and Dosing
Although it has many potential health benefits, there are also some important side effects to be aware of. Most of the side effects of guarana are directly related to the fruit’s high caffeine content and can be prevented by limiting your dose to small quantities. Side effects may include:
- Guarana can increase anxiety levels and even heighten your chances of experiencing a seizure (x).
- The large amounts of caffeine in guarana can irritate the digestive system, making diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome worse when taken in high doses (x).
- High doses can lead to issues with the cardiovascular system, including heightened blood pressure and even an irregular heartbeat (x). It may even exacerbate the symptoms of bleeding disorders, though this claim does require additional research.
- High levels of caffeine, such as those found in guarana, can weaken bladder control and lead to incontinence (x).
- Caffeine can irritate symptoms of schizophrenia, so if you have this condition, you will need to be extremely careful when taking guarana (x).
- High levels of caffeine could complicate the way the body processes blood sugar (x). This makes it potentially problematic for people with diabetes. Essentially, high doses of guarana could hinder diabetics from effectively treating their low blood sugar levels.
As a precaution, keep your dose limited to 250-300 milligrams per day, depending on your height and weight. Side effects can include stomach irritation, increased, heart rate, nervousness or agitation. You should also lower your dose if you are pregnant or breastfeeding to under 200 milligrams per day.
The Bottom Line
The guarana vine is known for giving members of the Amazon tribe energy for hunting. It is an excellent supplement for athletes looking to improve their focus stamina and increase their energy levels. In fact, it has been studied as a potential aid in fighting common side effects of chemotherapy and may be a solid preventative supplement against cancer. On top of that, it can promote weight loss when taken in combination with a healthy diet and exercise. The key to experiencing these benefits of this supplement is taking it in very small doses over a long period of time, since it is a potent source of caffeine.