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SCIENTIFIC NAME(S): Paullinia cupana Kunth var. sorbilis (Mart.) Ducke or P sorbilis (L.) Mart.
COMMON NAME(S): Guarana, guarana paste or gum, Brazilian cocoa, Zoom
Guarana is a South American shrub, whose berries contain guaranine, a substance very similar in chemical make-up to caffeine. So similar in fact, that many scientific sources say the two chemicals are actually the same thing. Manufacturers use guarana in many cases to hide the fact that their products have caffeine in them.
Besides the caffeine content, guarana has a long list of reputed health benefits. This leads people to feel that guarana contains some sort of more 'natural' form of caffeine, which is untrue.
Guarana has played an important role in the Amazonian Indians' society. It is often taken during periods of fasting to improve tolerance of dietary restrictions. In certain regions, the extract is believed to be an aphrodisiac and to protect from malaria and dysentery. In the 19th century, guarana became popular as a stimulating drink in France, and in 1880 was introduced as an official drug in the US Pharmacopeia, where it remained listed until 1910. Natural diet aids, which rely on daily doses of guarana, have been advertised in the lay press. Guarana is occasionally combined with glucomannan in natural weight loss tablets.The advertisements indicate that the ingredients in guarana have the same chemical makeup as caffeine and cocaine but can be used for weight reduction without any of the side effects of these drugs. This is not entirely correct.
The stems, leaves, and roots of guarana are used to kill fish in Central and South America.
Botany :- Guarana is the dried paste made from the crushed seeds of P. cupana or P. sorbilis, fast-growing woody perennial shrubs native to Brazil and other regions of the Amazon. It bears orange-yellow fruits that contain up to 3 seeds each. The seeds are collected and dry-roasted over fire. The kernels are ground to a paste with cassava and molded into cylindrical sticks, which are then sun-dried. Today, the most common forms of guarana include syrups extracts, and distillates used as flavorings and a source of caffeine by the soft drink industry. Guarana also is used as an ingredient in herbal weight loss preparations usually in combination with ephedra (ma huang).
Uses of Guarana
Guarana has been used as a natural energizer, cognitive stimulant, flavoring for beverages, and as a component in natural weight loss products; however, it cannot be recommended as a natural energizer or weight loss aid.
Side Effects of Guarana
Guaranine, a chemical compound found in guarana, produces many of the same effects as caffeine. Individuals with conditions that may be complicated by high caffeine intake (including insomnia, depression, and pregnancy) should consult with a physician before adding Guarana to their diet.
Guarana products that provide up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day are considered safe.
There are no published reports describing severe toxicity from guarana, but people sensitive to caffeine should use guarana with caution. This includes patients taking herbal weight loss preparations. Guarana use has led to excessive nervousness and insomnia. Use of guarana is contraindicated in pregnancy and lactation .
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