The guarana fruit's color ranges from brown to red and contains black seeds which are partly covered by white arils. The color contrast when the fruit has been split open has been likened to eyeballs; this has formed the basis of a myth.
Guarana plays an important role in Tupi and Guaraní Brazilian culture. According to a myth dating back to the Sateré-Maué tribe, guarana's domestication originated with a deity killing a beloved village child. In order 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 tea by shelling and washing 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 or Brazilian cocoa, which would be grated and then immersed into hot water along with sugar.
This plant was introduced to western civilization in the 17th century following its discovery by Father Felip Betendorf. By 1958, guarana was commercialized.
|Chemical||Plant part||Parts per million|
|Caffeine||seed||9,100 - 76,000|
|Starch||seed||50,000 - 60,000|
|Tannin||seed||50,000 - 120,000|
|Theobromine||seed||200 - 400|
|Theophylline||seed||0 - 2500|
According to the Biological Magnetic Resonance Data Bank, when 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 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 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.
Guarana is used in sweetened or carbonated soft drinks and energy shots, an ingredient of herbal tea or contained in capsules. Generally, while South America obtains most of its caffeine from guarana, many other Western countries are beginning to witness use of guarana in various energy and superfruit products.
A 2007 human pilot study assessed acute behavioral effects to four doses (37.5 mg, 75 mg, 150 mg and 300 mg) of guarana extract. Memory, alertness and mood were increased by the two lower doses, confirming previous results of cognitive improvement following 75 mg guarana. These studies have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or any similar government agencies, and do not imply medical or regulatory approval for use of guarana to enhance cognition.
Guarana extract reduced aggregation of rabbit platelets by up to 37 percent below control values and decreased platelet thromboxane formation from arachidonic acid by 78 percent below control values. It is not known if such platelet action clinically reduces the risk of heart attack or ischemic stroke.
Brazil's aphrodisiac from the Amazon: Guarana is great, producers say.(Originated from Knight-Ridder Newspapers)
Jul 05, 1995; RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil _ It makes coffee seem wimpy. It's got Amazon chic. Some even swear it adds pizzazz to your love life....