Guarana, an herb from the Amazon rain forest, has a long history of use as a stimulant beverage. It has also been used to treat arthritis, diarrhea, and headaches.
What is Guarana Used for Today?
Like tea, coffee, and chocolate, guarana contains alkaloids in the caffeine family, such as theobromine and theophylline. Caffeine is known to reduce pain, treat migraine headaches
Most of the proposed uses of guarana fall into line with these effects of caffeine. For example, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 129 healthy young adults, one-time use of guarana plus vitamins and minerals improved mental function and reduced mental fatigue among those undergoing a battery of cognitive tests.
Another double-blind, placebo-controlled study tested the effects of guarana plus
A typical dose of guarana supplies 50 mg of caffeine, about half the amount in a cup of strong coffee. However, a 1998 analysis of products on the market indicated that many guarana products contain less than the advertised amount of guarana. 5
The side effects of guarana would be expected to be similar to those of tea or coffee, such as heartburn, gastritis, insomnia, anxiety, and heart arrythmias (benign palpitations or more serious disturbances of heart rhythm). 6
Young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with heart disease should not use guarana.
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking:
1. Kennedy DO, Haskell CF, Wesnes KA, et al. Improved cognitive performance in human volunteers following administration of guarana ( Paullinia cupana ) extract: comparison and interaction with Panax ginseng . PharmacolBiochem Behav . 2004;79:401–11.
7. Kennedy DO, Haskell CF, Robertson B, et al. Improved cognitive performance and mental fatigue following a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement with added guarana ( Paullinia cupana ). Appetite. 2007 Oct 30.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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