Guarana soda is a drink that originated in South America, particularly Brazil and Venezuela 1. The soda is made from the seeds of the guarana plant, Paullinia cupana 1. Guarana is a stimulant similar to caffeine and natives of the Amazon have used it as a drink for hundreds of years 1. Visitors to the area in the 1600s reported natives drinking guarana drinks 1. Today, guarana soda makes up at least one-quarter of Brazil's soft drink market, and has fans in the United States 1.
Guarana grows wild in South American rain forests 1. Its fruit is a red berry which yields a seed. People use the crushed seeds to make guarana tea, soda and other foods and beverages 1. Botanist C. F. Paullini discovered the plant in the 18th century, leading to the scientific name, Paullinia cupana. In addition to flavoring soda, guarana is in juices, candies, teas and supplements 1.
What Are the Benefits of Guarana?
Guarana soda has a sweet taste that some have described as being similar to bubble gum 1. Others have described the taste as fruity. All guarana sodas are sweetened, with sugar, corn syrup or another sweetener 1. The beverages are carbonated and sold in cans or bottles.
Brazilian lore attributes many effects to guarana, and it's been touted as everything from an aphrodisiac to a weight-loss aid 1. Guarana is a stimulant, very similar to caffeine, so it can help you stay alert and might be useful for increasing endurance or relieving a mild headache, just as a cup of strong coffee might produce these effects 1. No evidence exists that guarana can produce dramatic weight loss or improve your sex life 1.
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Guarana is often mixed with caffeine, taurine and other substances in beverages sold as energy drinks 1. Since guarana is a stimulant, mixing it with other stimulants magnifies the effect and can lead to anxiety, insomnia, a racing heart and irritability 1. The effect depends on how much guarana you consume and your overall general health 1. If you experience any problems after consuming the soda, consult your doctor.
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- Guarana.com: Background
- De Oliveira Campos MP, Riechelmann R, Martins LC, Hassan BJ, Casa FB, Del Giglio A. Guarana (Paullinia cupana) improves fatigue in breast cancer patients undergoing systemic chemotherapy. J Altern Complement Med. 2011;17(6):505-512. doi:10.1089/acm.2010.0571
- Pedroso Dorneles IM, et al. Guarana (Paullinia cupana) presents a safe and effective anti-fatigue profile in patients with chronic kidney disease: A randomized, double-blind, three-arm, controlled clinical trial. Journal of Functional Foods 2018;51:1-7. doi:10.1016/j.jff.2018.10.004
- Santana AL, Macedo GA. Health and technological aspects of methylxanthines and polyphenols from guarana: A review. Journal of Functional Foods 2018;47:457-468. doi:10.1016/j.jff.2018.05.048
- Fukuda S. A potential biomarker for fatigue: Oxidative stress and anti-oxidative activity. Biological Psychology. 2016;118:88-93. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2016.05.005
- Pomportes L, Davranche K, Brisswalter I, Hays A, Brisswalter J. Heart rate variability and cognitive function following a multi-vitamin and mineral supplementation with added guarana (Paullinia cupana). Nutrients. 2014;7(1):196-208. Published 2014 Dec 31. doi:10.3390/nu7010196
- Haskell CF, Kennedy DO, Wesnes KA, Milne AL, Scholey AB. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-dose evaluation of the acute behavioural effects of guaraná in humans. J Psychopharmacol. 2007;21(1):65-70. doi:10.1177/0269881106063815
- Galduróz JC, Carlini EA. The effects of long-term administration of guarana on the cognition of normal, elderly volunteers. Sao Paulo Med J. 1996;114(1):1073-1078. doi:10.1590/s1516-31801996000100003
- Boozer CN, Nasser JA, Heymsfield SB, Wang V, Chen G, Solomon JL. An herbal supplement containing Ma Huang-Guarana for weight loss: a randomized, double-blind trial. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001;25(3):316-324. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0801539
- Lima WP, Carnevali LC Jr, Eder R, Costa Rosa LF, Bacchi EM, Seelaender MC. Lipid metabolism in trained rats: effect of guarana (Paullinia cupana Mart.) supplementation. Clin Nutr. 2005;24(6):1019-1028. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2005.08.004
- Baghkhani L and Jafari M. Cardiovascular adverse reactions associated with Guarana: is there a causal effect?. Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy. 2002. 2.1:57-61. doi:10.1080/J157v02n01_08
- Boozer, C., Nasser, J., Heymsfield, S., Wang, V., Chen, G., & Solomon, J. An herbal supplement containing Ma Huang-Guarana for weight loss: a randomized, double-blind trial. International Journal of Obesity. 2001. 25(3), 316–324. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0801539
- De Oliveira Campos, M. P., Riechelmann, R., Martins, L. C., Hassan, B. J., Casa, F. B. A., & Giglio, A. D. Guarana (Paullinia cupana) Improves Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Systemic Chemotherapy. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2011.17(6), 505–512. doi:10.1089/acm.2010.0571
- Dorneles, I. M. P., Fucks, M. B., Fontela, P. C., Frizzo, M. N., & Winkelmann, E. R. Guarana (Paullinia cupana) presents a safe and effective anti-fatigue profile in patients with chronic kidney disease: A randomized, double-blind, three-arm, controlled clinical trial. Journal of Functional Foods. 2018. 51. 1–7. doi:10.1016/j.jff.2018.10.004
- Fukuda S, Nojima K, Motoki Y, Yamaguti K, Nakatomi Y, Okawa N, Fujiwara K, Watanabe Y, Kuratsune H. A potential biomarker for fatigue: oxidative stress and anti-oxidative activity. Biol Psychol. 2016. 118:88-93. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2016.05.005.
- Galduroz JC and Carlini EA. The effects of long-term administration of guarana on the cognition of normal, elderly volunteers. Sao Paulo Medical Journal. 1996. 114.1 1073-8. doi:10.1590/S1516-31801996000100003
- Haskell CF, Kennedy DO, Wesnes KA, Milne AL, Scholey AB. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-dose evaluation of the acute behavioural effects of guarana in humans. J Psychopharmacol. 2007. 21(1):65-70. doi:10.1177/0269881106063815.
- Lima, W., Carnevalijr., Eder, R., Costarosa, L., Bacchi, E., and Seelaaender, M. Lipid metabolism in trained rats: effect of guarana (Mart.) supplementation. Clinical Nutrition. 2005. 24(6), 1019–1028. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2005.08.004
- Pomportes, L., Davranche, K., Brisswalter, I., Hays, A., & Brisswalter, J. Heart Rate Variability and Cognitive Function Following a Multi-Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation with Added Guarana (Paullinia cupana). Nutrients. 2014. 7(1), 196–208. doi:10.3390/nu7010196
- Santana, Á. L., Macedo, G. A. Health and technological aspects of methylxanthines and polyphenols from guarana: A review. Journal of Functional Foods. 2018. 47:457-468. doi:10.1016/j.jff.2018.05.048
Cynthia Myers is the author of numerous novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University.