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Guarana: energy for everyday life

guaranà in polvere e chicchi

What it is  Where it is  Use in integratorsi  Risks and contraindications

What is

guarana is a plant used for the energizing properties contained in its seeds by numerous pre-Columbian civilizations. After the arrival of Europeans in the American continent it was exported all over the world, finding a home in the old continent starting from the 17th century.

The natural habitat of the plant, however, is the Amazon rainforest, where it grows with a climbing course up to more than ten meters in height. The name comes from the language of the indigenous Guaraní people and means "eyes of the gods".

The popularity of Guarana seeds is due to the molecules they contain: these are in fact rich in a molecule known as guaranine, but better known as caffeine. As with many other sources of caffeine of natural origin, guarana seeds also contain other alkaloid substances, such as theobromine (one of the alkaloids also present in large quantities in cocoa), and theophylline. The latter also has stimulating effects on the central nervous system, as well as being used as a bronchodilator in medicine and veterinary medicine.

Where is it

As mentioned, guaranine is contained in the seeds of the guarana plant. Traditionally, these were extracted from the pulp, ground and dried, and then used the finished product in herbal teas and energy drinks.

Today it is possible to identify guarana among the ingredients of many food products and supplements. This is used both for the flavor that the pulp gives to drinks and jams, and for the high caffeine content of the seeds. In fact, it is not uncommon to come across guarana-based energy drinks, which are particularly popular in some countries such as Brazil.

Use in supplements

The paste made from guarana seeds contains percentages of caffeine ranging from 2% to 8%.

Therefore, this natural extract is used in the world of supplements to bring benefits similar to those of caffeine: 

  • Increase sports performance, through a greater blood flow to the muscles;
  • Increase concentration during study or work sessions;
  • Fighting tiredness and promoting energy recovery;
  • Fighting obesity through its thermogenic action, which raises the basal metabolic rate.

Guarana can be taken as a supplement in various forms, from tablets, to energy gels or functional chewing gum.

Risks and contraindications

Like many other stimulating substances taken by athletes and not, the abuse of guaranine can have side effects, especially in the most sensitive subjects. Doses higher than those recommended can lead to nervousness, tachycardia, headache. Furthermore, as happens with other caffeine-based stimulant supplements, our body can get used to the use of guarana, presenting in the event of a sudden interruption of its consumption, some symptoms attributable to a caffeine withdrawal crisis. However, this phase resolves itself within a few days.

The undesirable effects linked to the abuse of guaranine are generally found with a daily intake of 400 or more milligrams.