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Herb Information
Name: Guarana
Biological Name: Paullinia cupana
Other Names: Guarana
Parts Used: seeds
Active Compounds:  

Guaranine (which is nearly identical to caffeine) and the closely related alkaloids theobromine and theophylline make up the primary active agents in guarana. Caffeine's effects (and hence those of guaranine) are well known and include stimulating the central nervous system, increasing metabolic rate, and having a mild diuretic effect. 

One long-term study found no significant effects on thinking or mental function in humans taking guarana. Caffeine may have adverse effects on the blood vessels and other body systems as well as on a developing fetus, and presumably guaranine would have similar effects. Guarani also contains tannins, which act as astringents and may prevent diarrhea.


The indigenous people of the Amazon rain forest used crushed guarana seed as a beverage and a medicine. Besides its refreshing and nutritive value, guarana was said to treat diarrhea, decrease fatigue, reduce hunger, and help arthritis. It also has a history of use in treating hangovers from alcohol abuse and headaches related to menstruation.
The plant was introduced into France by a physician who was returning from Brazil. It came to be employed in the treatment of migraine and nervous headaches, neuralgia, paralysis, urinary tract irritation, and other ailments, as well as continuing to be administered for chronic diarrhea.

Remedies For

Guarana is useful for:

Athletic performance
Weight loss and obesity

The medicinal virtues of guarana is probably largely due to its high caffeine content. It has 2.5 times more caffeine than from coffee. This may be one of the reasons for its effectiveness in reducing migraine headaches. The tannins act as an astringent to alleviate diarrhea. Guarana extracts were found to inhibit platelet aggregation following either oral or intravenous administration.


The vast majority of guarana is grown in a small area in northern Brazil. Guarana gum or paste is derived from the seeds and is used in herbal supplements.


A cup of guarana, prepared by adding 1-2 grams of crushed seed or resin to 250 ml (1 cup) of water and boiling for ten minutes, can be drunk three times per day. Each cup may provide up to 50 mg of guaranine.


As with any caffeinated product, guarana may cause insomnia, trembling, anxiety, palpitations, urinary frequency, and hyperactivity.

Guarana should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation. 

Long-term use may cause decreased fertility, cardiovascular disease, and several forms of cancer, according to epidemiological studies of caffeine use.

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