Guarana, better known as Paullinia cupana, is a climbing plant that is primarily native to the northwest and central Amazon regions of Brazil. Guarana belongs to the soap tree family and has large leather-like petals and flower clusters. However, the main characteristic of the plant is its fruits, which are about the size of a coffee bean. The orange-colored fruit contains 1 to 3 seeds.
The peoples of the Amazon have valued guarana as a medicinal plant for centuries. They also know Guarana by other names such as Uabano, Panela Supana or Uranazeiro.
The plant first became known in Europe in the late 17th century, after the Jesuit missionary Joao Felipe Bettendorf reported about it. He observed that the Satere Mawe, an indigenous tribe from the Brazilian Amazon region, used guarana mainly as a medicinal plant, among other things, to relieve headaches and lower fever.
Only the seeds of the plant are used as food additives, remedies and care products. In addition to caffeine, these contain some effective ingredients:p>
Caffeine – Guarana seeds are considered to be the most powerful natural source of caffeine.
· With up to 8%, the caffeine content of guarana seeds is around three times that of coffee beans.
· In contrast to coffee and energy drinks, guarana does not make you nervous and avoids stomach upsets
· The caffeine from guarana is bound to tannins and fibers and is therefore only slowly released into the body. This enables the long-lasting release of energy for up to 6 hours - in complete contrast to the brief energy crash that you will experience with coffee and classic energy drinks.
Theophyllines - have a bronchodilator effect and inhibit the release of messenger substances that are necessary for an inflammatory reaction. The active ingredient can therefore be used to prevent and treat shortness of breath. Theophylline also increases the performance of the heart and has a diuretic effect.
Theobromine - have a diuretic, vasodilating and heart-stimulating effect and relax the smooth muscles. Overall, the effect of theobromine on the human organism is similar to that of caffeine, but is much weaker.
Saponins – or soapsuds - contained in guarana also have a dehydrating effect and support the gastrointestinal system. In addition, many soapsuds support the body's immune system and possibly counteract various pathogens such as bacteria and fungi. Since the saponins mainly fulfill their function in the digestive system, an important area of application for guarana is the treatment of gastrointestinal problems and dysentery.
Tannins - Their main function is to keep putrefactive bacteria and yeasts away, because they have an antiseptic effect. These tannins also kill bacteria and cause the gastrointestinal tract to contract. This has also led to the use of guarana as a diarrhea medicine. Tannins are also used to "precipitate" proteins. This means that they break down proteins into their components - for example into the individual amino acids.
Proanthocyanidins - are also advertised as powerful antioxidants that protect our body cells from free radicals and have many beneficial properties for the body. They should be able to help you lose weight and also have a life-prolonging effect.
Catechins - are antioxidants with all the beneficial functions of antiaging agents. Catechins protect the skin from damage caused by UV radiation and the effects of skin aging. They contribute to the lowering of cholesterol or prevent the formation of bad LDL cholesterol.
The climbing plant - which can grow up to 10 m high - has been commercially cultivated approximately two decades, especially in the Brazilian Amazon basin (Maues area). The hazelnut-sized capsule fruits can be harvested twice a year. The annual production is around 4000 tons of roasted seeds, 70% of which is obtained from the beverage industry, the remaining 30% is used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry.
the rest of the processing is done shortly after the harvest. First, the seeds are freed from the white seed coat in a water tub. To prevent these from spoiling, they are dried. After soaking and washing the fruits, the seeds are mashed into a thick paste while adding a little water. The resulting dough is shaped into a small, hard bar. The bars are then smoked over special woods. The finished product is dark brown and resembles a hard salami. The dried fruits are mechanically processed into a fine powder for non-indigenous consumption.
Many Brazilian beverage manufacturers use the guarana extract to make a soft drink similar to lemonade, which is typical for Brazil. Since guarana is becoming more and more popular, guarana-based products in various forms (chocolate, teas, chewing gum, other beverages and energy drinks) are increasingly being exported to western industrialized countries.
Areas of application
The plant became famous worldwide for its stimulating and revitalizing effect, which makes it an ideal alternative to other energizer as tea or coffee. Due to the more than 20 great ingredients, the consumption of guarana has a positive effect on lifestyle in various areas.