You may not be aware of it, but guarana is a popular ingredient in energy drinks and some supplements. Products containing it are often targeted at people who desire a boost in energy, such as athletes. However, the benefits they say you can expect from it go beyond energy boost. Read on to learn about these benefits and other things worth knowing about the natural extract.
Guarana is a climbing plant native to South America, more specifically, the Amazon basin. It is especially common in Brazil. You can also find it in parts of Venezuela and other Amazon regions. The perennial plant belongs to the maple family Sapindaceae.
More commonly, the name "guarana" is used to describe the seeds of the plant or products from it. The origin of the word is a Guarani term, which, in turn, comes from the Satere-Maue word "warana." This supposedly means "fruit like the eyes of the people." Although the name has a mythical origin, you can easily see the reason for it.
The Amazonian Indians have used this fruit and its seeds for a variety of purposes for centuries. They made herbal teas with dried powder from the seeds. These they used for aphrodisiac and anti-malarial purposes, among others.
It was in the 16th century that Europeans learned about guarana. It was added to the US Pharmacopeia as an official drug in 1880. The plant, which is also known as Brazilian cocoa, comes in a variety of forms, including powder, syrups, distillates and extracts.
For some time, researchers thought the benefits of guarana were due to the presence of a special substance. They called this guaranine.
It was later found that the plant doesn't contain any special chemical like one they had not seen before. It actually contains a very high concentration of caffeine. The guaranine present in this plant is just another variant of caffeine as found in sources such as coffee and tea.
You may be surprised that guarana contains about two times the caffeine content of coffee, or more. According to WebMD , the plant may contain up 5.8 percent caffeine, by weight. Coffee, in comparison, has up to 2 percent. This, it is argued, is a mechanism for repelling herbivores, plant-consuming animals.
There are a variety of other chemicals that are present in guarana seeds. These include tannin, theophylline, theobromine, guanine, saponin and hypoxanthine.
However, some think majority of benefits associated to guarana is due to the presence of caffeine.
A variety of benefits have been linked to this plant right from the time they were exclusive to the Amazonian tribes. But as is often the case, some scientists dispute the benefits people attach to this plant.
For now, the question here is: what benefits do people look forward to from guarana? Let's consider some of the most common.
The most popular benefit of guarana is its ability to improve energy levels. This is why it is an athlete's favorite and an important inclusion in energy drinks.
The plant is a stimulant due to the presence of caffeine. Very high content of this psychoactive substance present in it makes it helpful for dealing with lethargy and weakness. It is believed to be much more so than coffee – you should understand why by now.
Guarana works on your central nervous system, delivering its fatigue-fighting benefit. It improves your activity levels. One quality that may make it appeal to many people more is that it is released into the body slowly. This ensures sustained energy provision.
Guarana also acts as an appetite suppressant. This makes it potentially useful for those looking to lose weight. South American tribes have used it for this purpose for hundreds of years. They consume it during fasting periods to keep hunger in check.
You may have come across weight loss supplements that contain this plant. This is the reason.
In addition, some believe guarana stimulates the nervous system to improve lipolysis. This is a process whereby fat released into the blood is used for energy while exercising. Your ability to burn fat depends on how well lipolysis works.
WebMD says there is indeed evidence that this plant may aid weight loss. This is especially so when used with some other supplements. For instance, it may become more potent when working in synergy with polyphenols in green tea.
The Amazonian people have also utilized this maple plant for its aphrodisiac benefit. There are individuals in the Western world who also thought guarana can really improve sexual performance.
The belief is that it boasts potent aphrodisiac properties as a result of the presence of caffeine. You may expect to get more vigor and potency for intimacy when you take it regularly.
Guarana may help to put your bowel health in great shape. Tribes in the Amazon region used it to fight dysentery. It is a natural remedy for diarrhea and bloating. The woody plant facilitates healthy bowel movement, which is good news for those suffering from constipation. It is especially useful when you combine it with turmeric.
In Europe, people regularly use guarana to combat water retention. It is also a useful natural detoxifying agent that can help to get rid of waste products and toxins from the body. This not only promotes an effective digestive system, but also superb health.
If you wish to put your cardiovascular system in good shape, there is claim that you can get help from guarana. It may offer protection against scary and debilitating issues that can affect the system.
One of the ways this herbal remedy is thought helpful is with regard to how it thins your blood. It is a natural anti-platelet agent owing to the presence of caffeine and catechins. Guarana, therefore, helps to prevent clots from forming in blood vessels. This is useful in guarding against thrombosis and a variety of cardiovascular diseases.
The plant enhances blood flow. This is not only beneficial in guarding against heart attack and related problems. It can be helpful in controlling pain sensation as well. When blood flow is efficient, the pain you feel from injuries and certain conditions tend to reduce.
Another claim is that guarana is rich in antioxidants. What this means, among other benefits, is that it may help arrest the free radicals that could do damage to the cardiovascular system.
Older individuals or other people having certain mental health issues may get help from guarana. It is known that coffee and other foods containing caffeine improve alertness and mental performance. You will recall that this plant has a high amount of this substance. Therefore, you may expect it to make you mentally alert and active.
You could find a friend in guarana if you are the type that finds it hard to get quality nightly sleep and often feel less active the day after. It boosts alertness of people who are deprived of sleep. This doesn’t mean you consume it before going to bed, but the following morning.
The manner in which this plant improves blood circulation is a reason why it may enhance your mental health. When well oxygenated blood becomes more available to the brain, the organ has better chance of functioning at a higher level.
You can amplify the benefit of guarana for your mental health by combining it with ginseng.
There appears to be no standard dose for guarana. As a stimulant, the recommended amount can range from 200 milligrams to 1 gram. But some sources state that you can use up to 6 grams in form of powder or capsule. You take this in three equal doses.
You can use it to make tea or smoothies. Another option is to mix it with your favorite fruit juice and drink to get the benefits.
It is better to speak to your doctor for guidance on dosage when planning to use for any purpose.
Do note that this herbal extract comes with its own risks, regardless of how great it might sound. It produces side effects that are similar to those of caffeine. These include:
High blood pressure, convulsions, seizures and breast disease are possible from excessive consumption of guarana. There is also greater risk of oropharynx cancer due to its high tannin content. In addition, psychological dependence (addiction) is possible if you use it for a long duration.
This is why it will be prudent of you to talk to a doctor before starting to use the herbal extract. If you have a medical condition, be sure to disclose such. Anxiety disorders, high blood pressure, bleeding disorders, osteoporosis, glaucoma, and kidney disease are some of the disorders to report.
You should also discuss the supplements and medications you are already taking with your doctor. Some of these may interact with guarana. For instance, there are possible interactions with blood thinners, sedatives and antidepressants.
There is little or no evidence to show that the plant is safe for nursing or pregnant women. Therefore, it is advisable for such to stay away. It should also not be used for children.
One of the benefits of guarana that hardly anyone can dispute is its ability to give you an energy boost when you need it. There is insufficient or no evidence to back some of the others, but some people claimed to enjoy these benefits. However, the caffeine content, in particular, makes it crucial to speak to your doctor before using it.
1. Guarana (https://www.webmd.com/diet/supplement-guide-guarana)
Guarana - Wikipedia (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guarana)
What Are the Benefits of Guarana? | LIVESTRONG.COM (https://www.livestrong.com/article/243271-what-are-the-benefits-of-guarana/)
Guarana Uses, Benefits & Side Effects - Drugs.com Herbal Database (https://www.drugs.com/npc/guarana.html)
10 Amazing Benefits Of Guarana For Skin, Hair And Health (http://www.stylecraze
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