Guarana is a shrub found in Brazil and mostly in Amazon rain forest. It bears small red fruits that contain black seeds. The seeds after washing and drying are powdered and brewed in to tea by the locals. It is said that they could stay without food for two days while hunting in the wild after consuming guarana. The appetite suppressant effect is related to the caffeine content in the seed. These seeds are so rich in caffeine that they contain three times more caffeine than that of a coffee bean.
Guarana has been used in traditional medicine in Brazil and surrounding areas as they contained certain tannins and alkaloids. Subsequently research had been done on this shrub and many of its health benefits revealed.
Now it is commercially sold in the form of pills, extracts, powders. Popular energy drinks such as Red bull, Rock star, monster etc. also contain guarana. It is used as nutritional supplement to athletes looking for peak performance. It produced the greatest alertness and improvement in the performance of mental tasks.
Let us see how guarana is beneficial to human body.
- Caffeine in guarana helps stimulate the central nervous system, heart and muscles.
- It is known to fight fatigue and increase stamina and physical endurance.
- It is one of the major ingredients in herbal weight loss pills. It is observed that guarana has the properties to suppress the appetite and increase fat burning.
- During fasting women of Indian origin in Brazil used to take guarana to increase the tolerance of dietary restrictions.
- Students often take guarana health drinks to keep themselves awake at night. The alertness produced by coffee remains up to half an hour and rapidly fall off where as in guarana it keeps increasing and remains up to more than an hour.
- It is seen that there might be substances in guarana that delay the metabolism of caffeine, or slows the absorption of caffeine to prolong its effect.
- Guarana is used to treat high blood pressure, diarrhea, migraines and fever.
- Guarana can treat minor digestive problems, arteriosclerosis and can fight premature aging. It is known to prevent heat stroke by lowering body temperature and promoting normal bodily exchange of electrolytes.
- The extract is believed to protect from malaria and dysentery.
The stem, leaves and roots are used as fish killing drug. Guarana is a natural insecticide that keeps the plant eating bugs away. Birds eat the fruits and can only digest the fleshy part and the seed gets passed through the digestive tract.
Guarana should not be used in place of medication prescribed for you by your doctor. Any herbal supplement should be purchased from a reliable source to minimise the risk of contamination. There are extracts, powders and tablets and other formulations available in the market. Use only the one prescribed by your doctor and do not use more than the prescribed dosage. If you miss a dose use the next dose, but do not use extra guarana to make up the missed dose. It is advised to avoid using stimulant drugs while using Guarana.
By Nibhanapudi Suguna