Updated 18 February 2013


Guarana is a stimulant and tonic that invigorates and strengthens the body. It is typically found in Brazilian soft drinks and popular energy drinks.

Guarana (also called Paullinia cupana or Brazilian cocoa) is a creeping shrub native to Venezuela and northern Brazil in the Amazon rain forest. It has large leaves and clusters of flowers; and its fruit are small, bright-red berries containing black seeds.

Guarana contains a high amount of guaranine, a chemical substance with the same characteristics as caffeine. In fact, it has a higher caffeine content than coffee, but is in a form that takes longer to absorb, providing more sustained stimulation.

It is typically found in Brazilian soft drinks and popular energy drinks, teas and weight loss supplements.

Key actions:

  • A nervine (calms nervousness, tension or excitement)
  • Stimulant and tonic (invigorates or strengthens the system)
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Febrifuge (agent that reduces fever)

Interesting facts:

According to an Indian legend 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.


  • Guarana should not be used by people who are sensitive to caffeine or xanthines.
  • Guarana contains a high amount of caffeine which can aggravate high blood pressure and heart conditions.
  • The safety of guarana in pregnant or nursing women has not been established. Since many doctors recommend limiting caffeine during pregnancy and nursing, guarana should be avoided.
  • Guarana should not be taken with any products containing ephedra. Serious adverse effects have been reported with this combination.

- (updated by Birgit Ottermann, Health24, August 2010)


The truth about juicing

2018-06-07 07:07

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Teen angst »

Detecting depression: Phone apps could monitor teen angst

Studies have linked heavy smartphone use with worsening teen mental health. But as teens scroll through Instagram and Snapchat, tap out texts or watch YouTube videos, they also leave digital footprints that might offer clues to their psychological well-being.

Lifestyle changes »

Lifestyle changes helped new dad shed more than 20kg

Erik Minaya started to put on the kilos during his first year year in college. By age 24, he tipped the scale at nearly 120kg. But then he cut out fast food, replacing it with lower-carb offerings that he prepared himself.