Many plants and herbs have been used for hundreds of years by ancient civilizations to prevent and treat all sorts of different health problems as well as to enhance physical and mental capabilities.
Nowadays, more and more of these herbs and plants are being recognized for their potential health benefits as the general population is increasingly looking for natural ways to improve their health.
And as guarana is one of these, here’s everything you need to know about guarana seed extract, the benefits and also the possible side-effects.
What Is Guarana Plant ?
Guarana (Paullinia Cupana), also known as Brazilian cocoa or zoom, is an Amazonian climbing plant that is mostly grown in Brazil and other countries of the Amazon basin.
Guarana is known for its fruit which is a red shell that contains a brown seed surrounded by white flesh. It actually looks like a human eye, which is a bit creepy!
It has been used for centuries by Amazonian tribes as a stimulant and appetite suppressant.
Although guarana seeds are about the same size as coffee beans, they can actually contain up to 6% caffeine, which is 4 to 6 times more than coffee.
Because guarana contains a lot of caffeine, it helps stimulate the central nervous system, heart and muscles. It also contains theophylline and theobromine, which are also stimulants that act like caffeine. It is actually the combination of all these components that gives guarana its particular benefits and makes it even more powerful than coffee.
These days, guarana is mostly used in the beverage industry to make energy drinks. It is also used to make guarana extract which is made by turning the seeds into powder that can then be taken as a food supplement.
Apart from its stimulating effects, guarana is also known to be rich in antioxidants, which is why this plant is considered to have many other health benefits.
The Benefits of Guarana Powder
- Can Help Reduce Physical And Mental Fatigue
Some studies have shown that guarana could help improve cognitive performance and mental fatigue through supplementation.
Other studies have also shown that guarana has the ability to reduce mental fatigue caused by chemotherapy in people suffering from cancer.
- Helps Improve Brain Function
As well as improving cognitive performance and reduce mental fatigue, guarana has been associated with increased alertness and enhanced memory.
- Supports Digestive Health
Guarana has also been used since ancient times to treat digestive disorders.
Because of its caffeine content, guarana can help stimulate movement in the digestive tract and thus can be quite effective to provide relief from constipation.
At the same time, because it is high in tannins, it can also be very effective to treat diarrhea. This is because tannins can prevent the excretion of excess water in the bowels.
And since guarana also contains fibre, it promotes regular bowel movements and therefore helps to maintain gut health. This in turn can lead to good health in general.
- Promotes Healthy Skin and Hair
Guarana can also be found in skincare and hair care products.
Because it has strong antioxidant and anti-microbial properties, guarana can help fight scalp infections, dandruff and promote hair growth, leaving the hair shiny and healthy.
Its antioxidant effects also help to fight cell damage that can be caused by free radicals, and so protects the skin from signs of aging.
- Supports Heart Health
Guarana’s antioxidant properties help to keep the cardiovascular system in good health. It contains important amounts of catechins, even more than green tea, that can protect from oxidative stress, which is often responsible for the development of many heart diseases.
Guarana And Weight Loss: Does It work?
Another thing for which guarana is often advertised is weight loss. But can guarana really help you lose weight?
Since obesity has been linked to a number of serious health problems and chronic diseases, no wonder more and more people have been trying to lose weight, and looking for ways to do so in the easiest way possible such as taking a pill. But if only it was that easy…
So far, no studies have been able to show for sure that guarana could help weight loss in humans. But added to other healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly, guarana may have the ability to promote weight loss. Again, this would be thanks to its high caffeine content, which helps to boost the metabolism. By doing so, the body is able to burn more calories, even at rest, which can eventually lead to weight loss. Moreover, caffeine is a stimulant that can give you more energy. And having more energy usually means that you can be more active and thus, it can help you lose some weight.
It is also believed that guarana has the ability to suppress appetite. So eating less could lead to weight loss as well.
Like moringa, a highly nutritious tree, guarana is a very sought-after plant for weight loss purposes and although no studies clearly support this, it may indeed indirectly promote weight loss.
Guarana is usually safe to use in low to moderate doses.
However, it can be dangerous if consumed in large amounts. This is due to its high caffeine content, which can cause side-effects including caffeine addiction, insomnia, restlessness, irregular heartbeat, nausea and headaches.
Guarana should be avoided if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, have serious health problems or are taking medications.
How To Take Guarana Extract
Outside of South America, guarana is usually taken as a supplement and can be found in capsule, powder or liquid form.
If you choose guarana powder, it can be added to water, smoothies and shakes.
One of the best ways to take guarana powder is to drink it as a tea, by adding it to hot water.
Just remember, avoid taking guarana in the evening or you may find it difficult to fall asleep.
You should also know that if you are looking for the benefits listed above, energy drinks containing guarana, such as Red Bull and Monster, are unlikely to provide any of those apart from a quick burst of energy. This is because along with guarana, these drinks usually also contain many unhealthy ingredients such as sugar and other artificial compounds (flavors and colors). Which we can agree, is neither healthy nor natural and could actually impact your health rather negatively.
Guarana For Overall Health
When it comes to the use of guarana seed extract, the benefits are numerous, especially for energy and brain function. Not only that but, as it can also benefit digestive and heart health as well as skin and hair, guarana might be a good option if you are after general health and vitality. You could also greatly benefit from it by adding it to your weight-loss routine. And the fact that, if consumed reasonably, guarana may have very little to no side-effects, makes it a relatively safe natural supplement to include in your diet.
However, if you suffer from serious health problems or are taking medications, make sure you ask your doctor before you start taking guarana extract.
And if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, you should definitely avoid it to stay on the safe side, as caffeine can cross the placenta and too much of it could also cause miscarriages.