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What is Guarana Used for Today?
Like tea, coffee, and chocolate, guarana contains alkaloids in the caffeine family, such as theobromine and theophylline. Caffeine is known to reduce pain, treat migraine headaches , and, of course, fight fatigue. In addition, it may, under certain circumstances, enhance sports performance , improve mental function , and modestly aid weight loss .
Most of the proposed uses of guarana fall into line with these effects of caffeine. For example, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 129 healthy young adults, one-time use of guarana plus vitamins and minerals improved mental function and reduced mental fatigue among those undergoing a battery of cognitive tests. 1 In another double-blind, placebo-controlled study, use of guarana alone or guarana plus ginseng appeared to improve mental function (though the study suffered from some design problems) 2 In two other studies, no benefits were seen. 3 Another double-blind, placebo-controlled study tested the effects of guarana plus ephedra for weight loss. 4 In this trial, a total of 67 overweight people were given either placebo or a combination of guarana and ephedra for a period of 8 weeks. The results showed significantly greater weight loss in the treated group than in the placebo group. However, ephedra is an unsafe substance. (See the Ephedra article for more information.)
- Kennedy DO, Haskell CF, Robertson B, et al. Improved cognitive performance and mental fatigue following a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement with added guarana ( Paullinia cupana ). Appetite. 2007 Oct 30.
- Kennedy DO, Haskell CF, Wesnes KA, et al. Improved cognitive performance in human volunteers following administration of guarana ( Paullinia cupana ) extract: comparison and interaction with Panax ginseng. PharmacolBiochem Behav. 2004;79:401–11.
- Galduroz JC, Carlini EA. The effects of long-term administration of guarana on the cognition of normal, elderly volunteers. Rev Paul Med. 1996;114:1073–8.
- 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. 25(3):316-24.