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Introduction

Guarana extract comes from the maple family (‘Sapindaceae’) of plants and is a climbing plant native to the Amazon basin; usually found in Brazil. Guarana has clusters of flowers and large leaves and is well known for the the seeds of its fruit, which are comparable in size to coffee beans and contain around double of the amount of caffeine. Guarana extract is commonly used as flavoring in drinks and energy snacks and is also used as a stimulant and an ingredient in weight loss supplements.

The Bottom Line – Guarana extract is the substance extracted from the seeds of the Guarana fruit found in the Amazon basin and is used in food and supplement products.

Guarana Extract Health Benefits

Guarana extract is often added to consumer products such as drinks and energy bars for weight loss and increased alertness due to the high caffeine content and other properties.

Below is a list of the possible benefits we’ve found:

Can Help With Improving Mental Health

Guarana has been found to improve the mood of study participants who ingested Guarana on a daily basis. A study of 20 subjects found that people who took a multivitamin with Guarana extract had increased cognitive performance and reported a better quality of mood that those who took a multivitamin with a placebo. There is a suggestion that these effects may be due to the presence of tannins and saponins that work alongside caffeine to create a feeling of wellbeing. [1]

Can Help With Alertness

Guarana contains caffeine which is known to improve alertness and stave off fatigue. As well as caffeine, Guarana extract contains compounds which work independently to keep consumers alert. In a study comparing coffee, yerba and Guarana, it was Guarana that came out on top when it came to stimulation and helping in performance of mental tasks, Furthermore, whereas the boost from the caffeine in coffee fell away after 45 minutes, the benefits from Guarana extract were still noticeable after 150 minutes. This suggests that there is a compound in Guarana that delays the metabolism of caffeine or prolongs its effects by slowing the absorption. [2]

Can Help With Weight Loss

Guarana extract is a popular ingredient in weight loss products such as energy bars and meal replacement drinks as well as health supplement pills. The caffeine in Guarana extract (also known as guaranine) increases the metabolic rate for a short period, leading to the increased burning of calories. Guaranine also releases the hormone Epinephrine that tells the body to break down fatty acids from tissue and release them into the bloodstream to be used as energy.

As stimulants such as caffeine or guaranine also makes people feel more awake, consumers are less likely to reach for sugar and other weight-gaining foods during energy slumps. [3][4]

Can Help With Improving Digestion

Traditionally, Guarana extract has been used as a natural remedy for bloating and diarrhoea as well as water retention. Due to its high fibre content and stimulant properties it encourages efficient digestive transit, helping consumers to pass gas and water and alleviate uncomfortable retention symptoms.

The Bottom Line – Guarana extract can be used to encourage alertness and improved mood as well as to help with healthy digestion. It is incorporated into a number of products such as drinks, snacks and supplements.

How To Use Guarana Extract

The methods of using Guarana extract vary from food products to health supplements.

The most common methods of using Guarana extract are:

  • As a canned drink (for example in ‘Guarana’ and other popular energy drinks)
  • As a hot drink (in powder form mixed with hot water, like coffee)
  • As a cosmetic cream (often with added caffeine to combat cellulite)
  • As an ingredient in protein shakes and bars (for weight loss or weight gain prevention)
  • As a capsule (for increased alertness and weight loss)

The optimal dosage amount for Guarana extract is generally agreed to be no more than one gram consumed daily in forms such as a paste or powder mixed with hot water; consumers should also drink plenty of water to counteract the dehydrating effect of caffeine. In cosmetic creams the appropriate dosage should be on the packaging.

Are There Any Foods That Contain Guarana Extract?

There are plenty of foods and beverages that contain Guarana extract, both naturally and as an added ingredient. Aside from natural Guarana berries, foods that contain Guarana extract include sodas such as Guarana; protein bars and shakes and energy drinks or bars.

Guarana Extract Side Effects List

There are always risks to taking any kind of drug or supplement even if they have been used safely by others, so talk to your doctor before changing your diet to include more Guarana extract than you are used to.

The following side effects could potentially be:

  • Insomnia (inability to sleep)
  • Delirium
  • Restlessness and nervousness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Headaches (especially when ‘withdrawing’ from Guarana consumption) 

Note: Your body will adapt to the amount of caffeine and guaranine  it is used to consuming; if you start consuming Guarana extract after having none for a while you are more likely to experience these effects. Stopping caffeine consumption can lead to headaches and a dry mouth among other symptoms; contact your doctor if you are worried.

Is Guarana Extract Safe?

Guarana extract is consumed by many people on a regular basis in the form of energy drinks, supplements and energy bars or shakes.

Up to one gram per day is generally considered safe, although some people may be particularly sensitive to its effects. In large amounts it is considered to be unsafe due to its stimulant properties.

When Should I Not Take Guarana Extract?

  • If you’re a child under the age of 18: Children under 18 should not consume Guarana extract as there have been no long-term studies on the effects on children.
  • If you are pregnant: Ideally pregnant women should eliminate caffeine and similar stimulants from their diets as these drugs cross the placental barrier to the baby and there has not been sufficient study into the effects on the unborn child.

Has Guarana Extract Been Linked To Any Deaths?

Guarana extract has not specifically been linked to any deaths. However caffeine, which is a chemical in Guarana extract, has been linked to several deaths including adults who died after consuming large quantities of canned energy drink which may have contained Guarana extract.

The Bottom Line – Guarana Extract is commonly consumed and is generally safe to use within recommended limits. It can in large quantities be damaging to health and extreme caution is recommended.

Where Can I Buy Guarana Extract & Do I Need A Prescription?

You can purchase food and drink containing Guarana extract at most food stores and supplements containing Guarana extract are widely available at health food outlets. You do not need a prescription.

Conclusion

Guarana extract is a naturally occurring compound found in the Guarana plant. It contains active chemicals such as caffeine, tannins and saponins and used in many food and beverage products as well as cosmetic creams and health supplements. Sensible usage is considered safe for most people; contact your doctor if you have concerns about the effects of caffeine or its inclusion in your diet.

Abbey Carlson, RD
Abbey Carlson, RD
Staff Writer & Fact Checker at DietProbe
Abbey is a registered dietitian who specializes in human nutrition and obesity prevention.
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This article has been reviewed and fact-checked by a certified nutritionist, and only uses information from credible academic sources.