Guarana is a shrubbery plant that is native to northern Brazil and Venezuela. Guarana goes by other names: Brazilian cocoa, paullinia, cupana, guarana bread, zoom and guarana gum or paste. Guarana is usually ingested as a powder or mixed with water or other beverages. Use of guarana and any other herbal supplement is not a substitute for medical treatment and advice. See your doctor before beginning any new diet or treatment.
The majority of guarana plants are grown in the northern part of Brazil. Herbal preparations are made from guarana paste or gum, and the seeds are roasted and ground to make into a beverage. Guarana seeds are rich in caffeine and for that reason have been used as a tonic for many ailments.
Weight Control and Heart Health
Guarana is an effective stimulant, with 2.5 times more caffeine than coffee. According to the Herbal Resource website, guarana is a primary ingredient in energy drinks. Many fitness enthusiasts use guarana for its metabolism-boosting effects. It also boosts energy and performance. Many herbal supplements contain guarana to suppress appetite. Guarana is also used to promote cardiovascular health by strengthening and balancing the heart. It also cleanses the blood and prevents clotting.
Stress and Pain Relief
The stimulating effect of guarana promotes mental clarity and focus, as well as relieve tension caused by stress. According to the Herbal Remedies website, guarana also relieves minor pains and aches, calms the nerves and reduces nerve pain.
Other Uses of Guarana
Native Brazilian tribes used guarana to treat high blood pressure, diarrhea, migraines and fever. Guarana was also used to treat minor digestive problems and arteriosclerosis and fight premature aging. Guarana is also known to prevent heat stroke by lowering body temperature and promoting normal bodily exchange of electrolytes.
Guarana formulated with ephedrine--such as in performance-enhancing and diet aids -- should not be taken because of the danger of potentially fatal irregular heartbeat, according to the Drugs.com website. Guarana’s high caffeine content may rule it out as an option for persons with kidney disease, high blood pressure, heart problems, hyperthyroidism or anxiety disorder. Persons with allergies or who are taking medications or herbal supplements should consult with their doctor before taking guarana. A pregnant or breast-feeding woman should not take guarana without first consulting her doctor. Children should not be given guarana without first consulting their doctor. Other potential side effects include hives, breathing difficulty, swelling of the face, lips or tongue, narrowing of the throat, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, headache and sleeplessness, palpitations and anxiety.