Guarana is an evergreen vine found growing in the wild basins of the Amazon rain forests. The indigenous people of the Amazon rain forest have used crushed guarana seed as a beverage and a natural medicine. Guarana is used for energy and to combat fatigue and also to lose weight.
Guarana, in combination with Asian ginseng and Siberian ginseng, is often used by athletes in an attempt to produce an energizing effect. However, there are not any clinical studies conclusively substantiating the benefit of guarana for this purpose.
Guarana contains a substance similar to caffeine called guaranine. Guaranine stimulates the central nervous system, increases metabolism, and has a mild diuretic effect. It has been suggested that in combination with other herbs, guarana (guaranine) may be effective in helping to promote weight loss.
Guarana soft drinks are wildly popular in Brazil, and have been marketed in other countries world wide as energy drinks. It is available in other forms, including chocolate bars, chewing gum, powder, syrup and capsules and these products may be difficult to find outside of the Brazilian marketplace but can be found in some health food stores across the United States. Guarana can be found in many sports nutrition products but can be taken alone in dosages of 50 to 250 milligrams divided throughout the day. Guarana is chemically identical to caffeine and is also known as guaranine. It has been used for thousands of years by native Amazonians to help maintain their stamina and increase physical endurance. The seeds have seven per cent more caffeine than most plants, including coffee beans. The biggest difference between the caffeine found in coffee beans and that of guarana, is that guarana’s caffeine is released much more slowly, providing longer and more sustained stimulation. Directly stimulating the central nervous system and increasing metabolism, guarana is becoming more popular with body builders.
Possible Side Effects - Guaranine, a chemical compound found in guaraná, produces many of the same effects as caffeine. Individuals with conditions that may be complicated by high caffeine intake (including insomnia, depression, and pregnancy) should consult with a physician before adding guarana to their diet. Guarana products that provide up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day are considered safe.
Chemical composition of Guarana seeds:
Vegetable fiber: 49.125 %
Reddish resin: 8.800 %
Starch: 8.350 %
Water: 7.650 %
Pectin, malic acid, mucilage, dextrin, salts: 7.470 %
Guarana-tannic acid: 5.902 %
Caffeine: 5.388 %
Yellowish steady oil: 2.950 %
Pyro-guarana acid: 2.750 %
Reddish colorant: 1.520 %
Amorphous substances: 0.606 %
Saponin: 0.060 %
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Did you know? Brazilians do not eat anything in the morning. They work hard from sunrise to sundown. The Guarana drink eliminates the siesta which is the rule in other parts of Latin America. The custom of taking a GUARANA refreshment is little known outside of Brazil and is particularly strong in the states of Mato Grosso and Amazonas.. The plant is native to these areas.
A stick of GUARANA is found in most Brazilian homes. The hard stick is rubbed over a grate to scrape off some powder. A teaspoon of powder is spread on the surface of a cup of cold water. As the powder dissolves the reddish-brown solution is drunk by millions of people every morning. The taste is extremely agreeable when mixed with sugar, but quite bitter when consumed alone. In spite of the high caffeine content, Guarana acts extremely slowly. During a 4 to 6 hour period it stimulates circulation and frees the human body from a drowsy condition. A person eating a heavy meal of fish or meat will be perked up..
The seeds are plucked one by one, the seeds are cleaned by rubbing in water, then dried in the sun. Next they are roasted on a pan or earthenware pot stirring frequently until the shells become brittle. The hot seeds are put into a strong fiber bag and beaten with a cudgel to remove the shells. Then the seeds are reheated to remove more moisture. The clean kernels are crushed in a mortar. This makes a fine, dry powder. During the night moisture seeps into the powder from the air and the next day the powder is formed into bars, cakes, or figures of animals. These cakes are slowly dried in an oven using little heat for 2 to 3 weeks.
The drink is believed to improve health, help digestion, prevent sleepiness, increase mental activity, and it is whispered that it improves sexual activities. The pounded Guarana seeds are used as a flour in Guarana bread. The seeds are also mingled with casava and water to make the favorite drink of the Orinoco Indians.