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Guarana

( Paullinia cupana )

 

Family

Sapindaceae

 

Synonyms

Brazilian cocoa, uabano, Brazilian cola

 

Character

Febrifuge, stimulant, nervine, diuretic, hunger suppressant

 

Description

Guarana contains caffeine and is considered a natural stimulant. Over 180 species of paullinia exist, with guarana being one of the most caffeine-rich. The leaves, bark and seeds of the paullina genus contain appreciable amounts of caffeine. A product known as Brazilian cocoa is made from seeds which are harvested from the paullinia vine which grows the Amazonian jungles. Today, it is brought to market by Amazonian traders who sell it for its stimulant properties.

 

Phytochemistry

12.5 percent alkaloids, xanthines ( caffeine, guaranine ), theobromine, theophylline saponins, tannins and cyanogenic compounds

 

Traditional rain forest use

The Maues and Murdurow Tribes used guarana as a source of energy when traveling long distances. With sticks of guarana as their only source of nutrition, these travelers would scrape off tiny quantities for consumption throughout their journey. According to South American folklore, the natural stimulating and nourishing properties of the seeds were originally discovered by the Incas. Amazonian tribes would typically pound the paullinia vine seeds into a fine meal and then form a paste which they made into long rolls. When dried, the rolls became a very dark color, resembling licorice. The Karijonas made decoctions of the Paullinia splendida leaves as a tonic to counteract the debilitated state that typically follows a bout with malaria. Many tribes indigenous to the Amazon regions of Brazil, Peru, Columbia and Ecuador use varieties of guarana as a daily stimulant. It is considered one of the most important plants that make up the tribal diet.

 

Modern medicinal applications

Guarana is one of the riches plant sources of caffeine but does not have the heated hydrocarbons found in coffee. It is frequently combined with Chinese ephedra ( ma huang ) to stimulate weight loss through thermogenesis. Guaranine can be used to enhance energy and is also used as an appetite suppressant, an aphrodisiac and for diarrhea, fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, headaches, migraines, neuralgia and PMS.

 

Authentication

Guarana is used for its stimulating properties and for its diuretic action. It is also considered antidiarrheic and antifatigue. Its potential for treating migraine headaches is under current investigation.

 

Safety

Guarana is a caffeine-containing herb and should not be overused. Pregnant women or nursing mothers should not use guarana. Overuse can cause a strain on the urinary tract, heart palpitations, or insomnia. Combining guarana with herbs such as ephedra can have harmful side effects.

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