Guarana Benefits and Side
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Guarana (Paullinia cupana, P. crysan and P. sorbilis), a native Brazilian plant, is a climbing
plant in the Sapindaceae. It has large leaves and clusters of flowers. Guarana supplement is
used as energy booster; it is mainly because it contains about twice the caffeine found in
coffee beans. Caffeine is a defensive toxin to repel pathogens from its berry and seeds. Its
seed is a bomb of bio-actives; it has caffeine, tannin, theobromine, theophylline and more.

Guarana extracts have been shown to contain antioxidants and to perform antioxidant
activities. The extract, at a concentration between 16 and 128 microg/ml, showed a
significant antibacterial effect against both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. [1]

Brazilian researchers demonstrated that Paullinia cupana extracts could help against
Streptococcus mutans and they suggested to use Paullinia cupana extracts to prevent dental
plaque. [2]

What makes people believe guarana may benefit people at risk of thrombosis and
cardiovascular diseases?

Researchers from University of Cincinnati Medical Center found catechins, epicatechins and
their dimmers in extracts of dried guarana seeds. They thought these compounds might
contribute the anti-platelet aggregatory activities of guarana seeds. [3]

Researchers from Universidade Estadual de Maringá, Brazil, demonstrated the
antidepressant-like and anxiolytic activities of guarana seed extracts in a rat study. However,
the extracts did not increase locomotor activity. In the forced swimming, chronic treatment with
guarana extracts decreased the immobility time similarly to the antidepressant reference drug,
imipramine. [4]

What are the side effects of guarana?

A cell study indicates that high does of guarana is harmful to human health. [5]

Iyadurai SJ and Chung SS. from St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center reported a series
of four patients who had discrete seizures on multiple occasions, following heavy consumption
of energy drinks. And, these energy drinks contained caffeine, guarana, and herbal
supplements, such as ginkgo and ginseng are major components. Once the patients were
abstinent from the energy drinks, no recurrent seizures were reported. [6]


[1] Basile A, Ferrara L, Pezzo MD, Mele G, Sorbo S, Bassi P, Montesano D. Antibacterial and antioxidant activities of
ethanol extract from Paullinia cupana Mart. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Oct 31;102(1):32-6. [2] Yamaguti-Sasaki E, Ito LA,
Canteli VC, Ushirobira TM, Ueda-Nakamura T, Dias Filho BP, Nakamura CV, de Mello JC. Antioxidant capacity and in
vitro prevention of dental plaque formation by extracts and condensed tannins of Paullinia cupana. Molecules. 2007
Aug 20;12(8):1950-63. [3] Ravi Subbiah MT, Yunker R. Studies on the nature of anti-platelet aggregatory factors in the
seeds of the Amazonian Herb Guarana (Paullinia cupana). Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2008 Mar;78(2):96-101. [4] Otobone
FJ, Sanches AC, Nagae R, Martins JV, Sela VR, de Mello JC, Audi EA. Effect of lyophilized extracts from guaraná seeds
[Paullinia cupana var. sorbilis (Mart.) Ducke] on behavioral profiles in rats. Phytother Res. 2007 Jun;21(6):531-5. [5]
Santa Maria A, Lopez A, Diaz MM, Muñoz-Mingarro D, Pozuelo JM. Evaluation of the toxicity of guarana with in vitro
bioassays. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 1998 Mar;39(3):164-7. [6] Iyadurai SJ, Chung SS. New-onset seizures in adults:
possible association with consumption of popular energy drinks. Epilepsy Behav. 2007 May;10(3):504-8. Epub 2007
Mar 8.