Guarana (Paullinia cupana) for Herbal Naturopathy: properties, benefits, uses, side effects

Guarana is rich in caffeine and is a natural energizing remedy, useful for improving performance in study and sports.

Guarana is an evergreen plant whose seeds are used for their stimulating and slimming properties.

What is Guarana

Guarana (Paullinia cuppana, Paullinia sorbilis) is a liana that grows wild in the Amazon, belonging to the Sapindaceae family.

In the countries of origin, guarana seeds are used to prepare stimulating drinks or flours to be mixed with manitoba and cocoa powder.

The seeds are also used to make guarana supplements used in herbal medicine and phytotherapy for their properties and benefits.

What is guarana used for

In herbal medicine and phytotherapy, guarana is used above all as a stimulant and general tonic, due to its energizing properties.

Additionally, guarana supplements can be helpful in boosting metabolism and controlling appetite, which is why guarana is often used for weight loss.

Traditionally aphrodisiac properties are also attributed to guarana; the sexual effects of guarana would include an increase in desire and the resolution of erectile dysfunctions, but these “sexual properties” are not confirmed by studies to date.

Guarana seeds are also used to make stimulating non-alcoholic drinks with a pleasant taste, very similar to cola and syrups that can be used for example to make popsicles.

Properties of guarana

Guarana has properties:

  • Energizers;
  • tonics;
  • stimulants;
  • slimming

given above all by the caffeine content, particularly concentrated in the seeds.

In fact, caffenine promotes the release of two hormones

  • Adrenaline;
  • noradrenaline

which cause an increase in metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure and the number of breaths and oxygenation of the blood and tissues.

Guarana seeds also contain:

  • Flavonoids;
  • tannins;
  • saponins

which give this remedy a slightly anti-diarrheal action and anti- inflammatory properties useful in case of migraines and menstrual pains.

Benefits of Guarana

Guarana is recommended as a stimulant in case of:

  • Psychophysical fatigue;
  • asthenia;
  • convalescence.

Guarana is used to improve attention and memory in study and work, and to raise mood in case of depression

The supplements prepared with guarana extract can also be used in sports, improve performance by increasing the resistance to effort.

Guarana is also often used for its slimming properties in low-calorie diets to lose weight, as caffeine is able to increase energy metabolism and reduce the synthesis of body fat.

How to use

Guarana can be used in supplement form, in capsules or tablets, herbal tea, mother tincture or powder. As for the doses of guarana it would be good not to exceed 400 mg of caffeine per day.

Guarana herbal tea is prepared with two or three crushed guarana seeds, to be boiled in water for about fifteen minutes or, alternatively, with guarana powder to be placed in an infusion filter.

Guarana powder can also be added to smoothies, juices, yogurt, to be consumed for breakfast.

The mother tincture of guarana is taken by diluting 40-50 drops in water twice a day, preferably in the morning and early afternoon.

Contraindications of guarana

Supplements and other guarana-based preparations are contraindicated in children, pregnant and lactating children and in all people sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

The use of guarana is also contraindicated in cases of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and in people taking other stimulant substances or sedative drugs and supplements.

Side effects of guarana

The side effects of guarana are associated with caffeine and are the same as those of coffee, tea, mate and other stimulant drugs. Prolonged or high dosages of guarana can therefore lead to agitation, anxiety, insomnia, tachycardia, tremors and gastrointestinal disturbances.

Description of the plant

The guarana plant is a woody vine which, in its spontaneous state, can reach heights of up to thirteen meters, lean on the trees of the forest without damaging them or remaining erect without supports.

It has a light green bark on the young branches which turns brown on the trunk and major branches.

The leaves are alternate with short petioles, leathery, glossy green on the upper side, opaque green on the lower side; they have an entire margin and main pinnate ribs.

The flowers are white, briefly pedunculated, single or, more often, gathered in groups of up to fifteen / twenty.

The fruit is a capsule containing a single seed with a red arilloidThe seeds of guarana are collected, deprived of the arilloid, dried and subsequently roasted and used for the various preparations.

Habitat of guarana

Guarana is native to the Amazon rainforest, where it grows spontaneously along rivers. The plant is also cultivated for the commercialization of the fruit, particularly in areas along the Amazon River.


Sacred plant for many tribes of Indios, which they used as an elixir of long life, for its tonic-stimulating and adaptogenic effect.

It was also used to combat diarrhea, to relieve menstrual pains, to weaken diseases – and also to be able to sharpen the senses, a purpose surely linked to the fact that the plant itself has “eyes to see”. Due to its strange fruit, which resembles the eyes, many legends and myths were born.

One of these features a girl with a gentle appearance and soul; she her name was Cereaporanga and she was protected by the goddess of beauty and life.

One day Cereaporanga met a valiant warrior from an enemy tribe with whom he fell in love. However, despite their love, the two lovers would never be able to stop the hatred that had existed for years between the two clans; so they decided to run away together to be happy.

On the way, Cereaporanga ran into a wounded anaconda and, despite the danger, her sweet heart prompted her to help her.

Because of this “halt“, the warriors of his tribe came closer and closer; when she was certain that her man would be captured and killed, she established a pact of love and death: she asked the big snake to hold them, with all his strength, in their last embrace.

The Indios, seeing the two lovers in their last gesture, are desperate for the death of their protégé. They immediately asked the goddess of beauty and life for help, so that at least the woman’s spirit would not abandon them; so the goddess, moved by Cereaporanga’s gesture, gave birth from her eyes a plant whose fruits look like two splendid black eyes; just like those of the most beautiful girl.

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