The Info List - Guaraná

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GUARANA (/ɡwəˈrɑːnə/ from the Portuguese guaraná ), Paullinia cupana, syn. P. crysan, P. sorbilis) is a climbing plant in the maple family, Sapindaceae , native to the Amazon basin and especially common in Brazil. Guarana
features large leaves and clusters of flowers , and is best known for the seeds from its fruit, which are about the size of a coffee bean. As a dietary supplement , guarana is an effective stimulant: its seeds contain about twice the concentration of caffeine found in coffee seeds (about 2–4.5% caffeine in guarana seeds compared to 1–2% for coffee seeds).

As with other plants producing caffeine, the high concentration of caffeine is a defensive toxin that repels herbivores from the berry and its seeds.

The guarana fruit's colour ranges from brown to red and contains black seeds which are partly covered by white arils . The colour contrast when the fruit is split open has been compared with the appearance of eyeballs, and has become the basis of an origin myth among the Sateré-Mawé people.


* 1 History and culture * 2 Composition

* 3 Uses

* 3.1 Safety * 3.2 Beverages

* 4 References * 5 External links


The word guarana comes from the Guaraní word guara-ná, which has its origins in the Sateré-Maué word for the plant, warana, that in Tupi-Guarani means "fruit like the eyes of the people"

plays an important role in Tupi and Guaraní Paraguayan culture. According to a myth attributed to the Sateré-Maué tribe, guarana's domestication originated with a deity killing a beloved village child. To console the villagers, a more benevolent god plucked the left eye from the child and planted it in the forest, resulting in the wild variety of guarana. The god then plucked the right eye from the child and planted it in the village, giving rise to domesticated guarana.

The Guaranís would make an herbal tea by shelling, washing and drying the seeds, followed by pounding them into a fine powder. The powder is kneaded into a dough and then shaped into cylinders. This product is known as guarana bread, which would be grated and then immersed into hot water along with sugar.

This plant was introduced to European colonizers and to Europe in the 16th century by Felip Betendorf, Oviedo , Hernández , Cobo and other Spaniard chroniclers. By 1958, guarana was commercialized.


A partial list of the components of guarana seeds. CHEMICAL COMPONENT PARTS PER MILLION


ASH < 14,200

CAFFEINE 9,100–76,000




FAT < 30,000




PROTEIN < 98,600

RESIN < 70,000


STARCH 50,000–60,000

TANNIN 50,000–120,000





The table contains a partial listing of some of the chemicals found in guarana seeds, although other parts of the plant may contain them as well in varying quantities.

According to the Biological Magnetic Resonance Data Bank, guaranine (better known as caffeine ) is found in guarana, and is identical to caffeine derived from other sources, like coffee , tea , and mate . Guaranine, theine, and mateine are all synonyms for caffeine when the definitions of those words include none of the properties and chemicals of their host plants except caffeine. Natural sources of caffeine contain widely varying mixtures of xanthine alkaloids other than caffeine, including the cardiac stimulants theophylline and theobromine and other substances such as polyphenols , which can form insoluble complexes with caffeine. The main natural phenols found in guarana are (+)-catechin and (-)-epicatechin .


fruits Guarana
seed powder


In the United States, guarana fruit powder and seed extract have not been determined for status as "generally recognized as safe " (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration , but rather are approved as food additives for flavor (but not non-flavor) uses.

is used in sweetened or carbonated soft drinks and energy shots , an ingredient of herbal teas or contained in dietary supplement capsules. Generally, South America obtains most of its caffeine from guarana.


, the third-largest consumer of soft drinks in the world, produces several soft drink brands from guarana extract. Paraguay is also a producer of guarana soft drinks with several brands operating in its market. The word guaraná is widely used in Brazil
and Paraguay as a reference to soft drinks containing guarana extract.


* ^ Johannes, Laura (March 2, 2010). "Can a Caffeine-Packed Plant Give a Boost?". The Wall Street Journal . p. D3. * ^ Bempong DK, Houghton PJ, Steadman K (1993). "The xanthine content of guarana and its preparations". Int. J. Pharmacog. 31 (3): 175–81. doi :10.3109/13880209309082937 . ISSN 0925-1618 . * ^ Ashihara H, Sano H, Crozier A (February 2008). " Caffeine
and related purine alkaloids: biosynthesis, catabolism, function and genetic engineering". Phytochemistry. 69 (4): 841–56. doi :10.1016/j.phytochem.2007.10.029 . PMID 18068204 . * ^ Prance G, Nesbitt M, eds. (2004). Cultural History of Plants. New York: Routledge. p. 179. * ^ "guarana". Merriam Webster. Retrieved 2007-09-18. * ^ Beck HT (2004). "10 Caffeine, Alcohol, and Sweeteners". In Ghillean Prance; Mark Nesbitt. Cultural History of Plants. New York: Routledge. p. 179. ISBN 978-0-415-92746-8 . * ^ A B Weinberg BA, Bealer BK (2001). The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug. New York: Routledge. pp. 259–60. ISBN 978-0-415-92723-9 . * ^ Bennett Alan Weinberg and Bonnie K. Bealer (2001). The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World\'s Most Popular Drug. p. 260. * ^ A B "Guarana", Dr. Duke\'s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases, 2007-09-18, OCLC 41920916 , archived from the original on 2004-11-19, retrieved 2007-09-18 * ^ A B Duke JA (1992). Handbook of phytochemical constituents of GRAS herbs and other economic plants. Boca Raton: CRC Press. ISBN 978-0-8493-3672-0 . OCLC 25874249 . * ^ "Caffeine". Biological Magnetic Resonance Data Bank, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Retrieved 2007-09-19. * ^ Balentine D. A.; Harbowy M. E.; Graham H. N. (1998). "Tea: the Plant and its Manufacture; Chemistry and Consumption of the Beverage". In G Spiller. Caffeine. CRC Press. ISBN 978-0-8493-2647-9 . * ^ "Substance Name: Caffeine