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Paullinia cupana Guarana   Sapindaceae

Guarana, Paullinia cupana


Guarana, Paullinia cupana

Guarana , 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 its fruit, which is about the size of a coffee bean. As a dietary supplement, guarana is an effective stimulant: it contains about twice the caffeine found in coffee beans (about 2–4.5% caffeine in guarana seeds compared to 1–2% for coffee beans).

As with other plants producing caffeine, the high concentration of caffeine is a defensive toxin that repels pathogens 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 has been split open has been likened to eyeballs; this has formed the basis of a myth.
The Guaranís would make a 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.
The table to the right 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 is defined as only the caffeine chemical in guarana, it is identical to the caffeine chemical derived from other sources, for example coffee, tea, and maté. 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 the chemical 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 polyphenols found in guarana are (+)-catechin and (-)-epicatechin.
Guarana is used in sweetened or carbonated soft drinks and energy shots, an ingredient of herbal tea or contained in capsules. Generally, South America obtains most of its caffeine from guarana.

Brazil, which is the third-largest consumer of soft drinks in the world, produces several soft drink brands from guarana extract. The Portuguese word "Guaraná" is widely used in Brazil as a reference to soft drinks containing guarana extract. Brazilian sales of guarana beverages exceed those of cola drinks.

In Peru, Guaraná is a Peruvian brand of soft drink containing guarana fruit, owned by Backus and Johnston. In 2007 the drink had 5% of the Peruvian soft drinks market, and was relaunched with a new bottle and label and a light version.A year later its sales had increased by 49%.
Cognitive effects

As guarana is rich in caffeine, it is of interest for its potential effects on cognition. In rats, guarana increased memory retention and physical endurance when compared with a placebo.

Other uses and side-effects

In the United States, guarana has the status of "generally recognized as safe".
Preliminary research has shown guarana may affect how quickly the body perceives itself to be full. One study showed an average 11.2 pound (5.1 kilogram) weight loss in a group taking a mixture of yerba mate, guarana, and damiana, compared to an average one pound loss in a placebo group after 45 days. Although inconclusive about specific effects due only to guarana, this study differs from another showing no effect on body weight of a formula containing guarana.

Guarana, Paullinia cupana Guarana, Paullinia cupana Guarana, Paullinia cupana