Guarana or ‘paullinia cupana’ is extracted from a Brazilian bush in South America, with the seeds having similar effects to that of caffeine. These seeds are recognised to contain several natural stimulants, such as guaranine, theobromine and caffeine.
Health Benefits of Guarana Supplements
Guarana is known in its native Brazil by locals as the ‘food of the gods’ and has been identified to have some key benefits. In Sports Supplements, Bean highlights that guarana supplements may help increase endurance and exercise performance, although this is believed to be down to the high levels of caffeine found within guarana. It is important to not be fooled by the ‘natural’ labels on guarana-based products, as natural products have side-effects, in the same way as other medications.
In The Essential Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and Herbal Supplements, Brewer identifies health benefits relating to guarana, as follows:
- Increases physical energy
- Boosts mental energy
- Relieves fatigue
- Improves stress responses
- Helps prevent jet lag
- Reduces abnormal blood clotting on flights
- Improves mood, memory and cognition
However, as guarana is a restricted substance within certain sports, it is best not to try using guarana supplements before checking with a coach. The recommended dose of guarana supplements is one gram per day. Guarana is also present in some foods and drinks, such as in a type of Boost chocolate bar, available in the UK.
Guarana Supplements – Side-Effects
Despite the claims of being a natural product, guarana supplements and extracts may result in the same side-effects which are typically associated with high caffeine intake. In additon, as guarana supplements come in pill form, it is easy to end up taking higher doses (potentially causing multiple side-effects) than drinking the equivalent in cups of coffee. Bean acknowledges side-effects associated with taking guarana supplements, as follows:
- High blood pressure
- Heart palpitations
Therefore, although guarana may help to improve both mood and mental energy, it is clear that a person suffering from the possible side-effect of anxiety, is unlikely to also have a positive mood. Rather than purchasing guarana supplements it is probably significantly simpler and certainly much less expensive to have a cup of tea or coffee, both of which contain caffeine.
As highlighted above, guarana supplements may be natural, but can result in several side-effects, such as anixety, headaches, insomnia and palpitations. Key health benefits associated with taking guarana supplements, include that it helps reduce jet lag, results in increased energy levels, improved cognition and reduction in abnormal blood clotting on flights.