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Guarana, an herb from the Amazon rain forest, has a long history of use as a stimulant beverage. It has also been used to treat arthritis, diarrhea, and headaches.
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...
The side effects of guarana would be expected to be similar to those of tea or coffee, such as heartburn, gastritis, insomnia, anxiety, and heart arrythmias (benign palpitations or more serious disturbances of heart rhythm). 2 Combination products containing guarana and ephedra would be expected to present additional risk. Finally, all drug interactions that can occur with caffeine would be expected to occur with guarana as well (see Interactions You Should Know About ).
Young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with heart disease should not use guarana.
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking:
- MAO inhibitors : The caffeine in guarana could cause dangerous drug interactions.
- Stimulant drugs such as Ritalin: The stimulant...