Guarana extract is prepared from the climbing vine, guarana (scientific name Paullinia cupana). The fruits of the guarana plant contain twice to thrice the amount of caffeine present in coffee beans (approximately 4 percent), xanthine, and tannins. Taking this into consideration, guarana seeds are used as a major source of caffeine in many parts of the world. The extract is available in the form of powder, pills, syrup, and chocolate bars. Being a caffeine-rich product, guarana seed extract is widely used for promoting stamina and physical endurance.
It is primarily used as dietary supplement to help boost stamina levels. One can also find it in carbonated drinks, energy drinks, and tablets. As per the proponents, the benefits of this extract include:
Cognition - It has shown prompt results in terms of positive effects in cognition. The high caffeine content promotes mental alertness and reduces fatigue. Their proponents are of the opinion that caffeine is released slowly, thus providing stimulative effects for a longer period.
Digestion - It is used for combating digestive problems, particularly irregular bowel movement. The tannin present in it helps in the proper digestion of food and treatment of diarrhea. However, do not use this extract frequently for reducing digestive problems, as it may become habitual in the long run.
Weight Loss - It reduces appetite and cravings for food, while stimulating the body metabolic processes. Hence, it helps in burning the accumulated fats and lipids, as an energy source for the body cells and tissues. It is used in many of the diet pills available in the market.
Pain Relief - Another health benefit is that it reduces painful symptoms. Traditionally, it has been used as a treatment for migraine headache, rheumatism, and menstrual pain.
People who are sensitive to caffeine and xanthine should stay away from energy drinks and dietary products that contain this extract. The side effects are observed among the individuals, who have consumed a high concentration of the same and for a long period.
Common Adverse Effects - Commonly manifested symptoms for the overdose include allergic reactions, vomiting, difficulty in urination, and abdominal pain. In most of the affected people, these complications subside after reducing the dosage. One should use this extract, strictly as directed in the product to minimize the risk of side effects.
Ventricular Contraction - There are medical reports suggesting that it may trigger abnormalities of the heart rhythm. According to the data, administration of herbal supplements containing high amounts of it could cause premature ventricular contraction.
Health Conditions - As it contains a high concentration of caffeine and alkaloids, it can exacerbate the symptoms of certain health problems like diabetes, heart diseases, and kidney problems. Hence, the people affected by such medical conditions should take this extract under strict medical supervision. The same is applied to pregnant and lactating women.
Medicine Interaction - Drug interaction is the worst side effect of this extract. Mild to severe complications have been observed when it is taken with other therapeutic medication at the same time. It is recommended to avoid using it in combination with aspirin and anticoagulants and herbal products containing ephedra.
Speaking about its safety, there is no standard regulation for production of this extract. The FDA has not approved its usage in any of the dietary supplements and weight loss diet pills. Thus, it is not sure whether it is safe for consumption or not. On the safer side, one should take the doctor's advice regarding the brand, dosage, and safety prior to consuming it for health-related issues.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.