Guarana – benefits and possible side effects

Guarana – benefits and possible side effects

What is Guarana?

Guarana is a plant native to Central and South America. This plant boasts a wealth of valuable nutrients and health-promoting substances. It is considered to be a much healthier caffeine substitute, which stimulates longer and causes less energy drops.

Guarana berries have one of the highest levels of caffeine found in a natural product. About 7-8% of the composition of guarana seeds is the mentioned stimulating bioactive ingredient, while in coffee beans it is about 3%.

A mature guarana fruit is about the size of a coffee berry. It looks like the human eye, with a red shell encasing a black seed covered by a white aril.

Guarana can reduce fatigue and increase concentration

As an excellent source of caffeine, guarana will help you stay focused and mentally active.

Caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, a compound that makes you feel sleepy. It binds to the same receptors, blocking the site for adenosine and thus preventing its activation1.

One study from the Department of Human Cognitive Neuropsychology at the University of Northumbria in the UK found that low-dose guarana (37.5 and 75 mg) improves both memory and attention compared to controls. What’s more, scientists suggest that such an effect cannot be attributed to caffeine itself, but to guarana seeds – with the full spectrum of active substances present in them2.

In addition to reducing physical fatigue, scientific research confirms that guarana can also help combat mental fatigue, even during prolonged exercise and concentration3.

Guarana can help to loose extra kilograms and supports digestive system

One of the studies found that caffeine (and guarana is packed with it) can boost metabolism by 3 to 11% for 12 hours after ingestion4. And a faster metabolism means more calories your body will burn when you rest.

Moreover, experiments based on test-tube tests have shown that guarana can inhibit the process of adipogenesis, i.e. the formation of fat cells, due to the suppression of the expression of genes responsible for this phenomenon5.

Guarana has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for digestive problems. So if you are familiar with diarrhea or constipation, this plant may be a bull’s-eye for you6.

Guarana can improve skin condition and supports healthy heart

Due to the content of caffeine and other alkaloids that prevent excessive accumulation of fat in the cells, guarana is a common ingredient in products aimed at fighting cellulite. It is also used as an active ingredient in countless anti-aging cosmetics, cleansing gels and milks, as well as in shampoos and scalp lotions7.

During one of the clinical trials, 43 men applied externally a preparation based on guarana, creatine and glycerol. As a result, after 6 weeks, a significant improvement in the condition of the skin was observed – including increased collagen production, reduction of drooping cheeks and wrinkles around the eyes8.

Guarana can reduce the risk of heart disease in two ways.

First, because of the antioxidants. The antioxidants contained in the plant – caffeine and catechins – improve blood circulation, which can prevent the formation of blood clots9.

Second, studies have shown that guarana can reduce the oxidation of “bad” LDL cholesterol. Its excess can accumulate in the walls of blood vessels and contribute to the occurrence of diseases such as atherosclerosis or coronary artery disease.

In one study, adults who consumed guarana seeds had 27% less oxidized “bad” LDL cholesterol than those who did not eat guarana seeds10.

Guarana – possible side effects

Small to medium doses of guarana are considered safe. However, in higher doses, similar to coffee, guarana may contribute to symptoms similar to those of an overdose of caffeine.

The most common side effects are:

  • Problems with sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Digestive problems and heartburn
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Trouble concentrating

If you notice any of these symptoms, consider reducing the amount of guarana you consume or cutting it off altogether, even temporarily.