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Guarana Side Effects, Benefits and the Risk and Danger of Overdosing

Guarana Side Effects, Benefits and the Risk and Danger of Overdosing

Guarana is also known as Paullinia cupana, Brazilian cocoa, guarana bread, and guarana paste or gum. Guarana is found in some soft drinks imported from South America in a manner similar to American soft-drinks fortified with caffeine. Some over the counter weight loss pills contain guarana. Guarana side effects can occur when ingesting a high amount, including irritability and rapid heart beat. Guarana use can improve alertness.

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Guarana and Caffeine

Guarana contains caffeine and has been used as a stimulant and appetite suppressant. Guarana also has small amounts of theophylline and theobromine, along with tannins such as proanthocyanidins. Tannins are bitter-tasting plant polyphenols that bind and precipitate proteins. Condensed tannins are also known as proanthocyanidins.

Guarana Side Effects

Guarana side effects include loss of appetite, nervousness, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, stomach upset, and headache. A serious high dose guarana side effect is abnormal heart rhythm, particularly if guarana is combined with phentermine, alcohol, or other drugs and substances that influence heart rhythm.

We suggest not using guarana long term unless you take a 2 day break each week and a full week off each month.

Guarana in Energy Drinks and Potential Side Effects

New-onset seizures in adults: possible association with consumption of popular energy drinks.

Epilepsy Behav. 2007. Iyadurai SJ, Chung SS. Department of Neurology, Barrow Neurological Institute, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, AZ, USA.

Energy drinks contain a mixture of compounds, of which caffeine, guarana, and herbal supplements such as ginkgo and ginseng are major components. Survey of popular literature reveals anecdotal observations of adverse events associated with consumption of energy drinks. However, there are no reported cases in the published literature. We report a series of four patients who had discrete seizures on multiple occasions, following heavy consumption of energy drinks. Once the patients were abstinent from the energy drinks, no recurrent seizures were reported. We propose that the large consumption of energy drinks rich in caffeine, taurine, and guarana seed extract could have provoked these seizures.

Guarana Effects on Humans – Mood and Alertness

A double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-dose evaluation of the acute behavioural effects of guaraná in humans.

J Psychopharmacol. 2007. Haskell CF, Kennedy DO, Wesnes KA, Milne AL, Scholey AB. Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, Division of Psychology, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Researchers at Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK tested for side effects of guaraná plant in humans. This double-blind, counterbalanced, placebo-controlled guarana study evaluated the acute mood and cognitive effects throughout the day of four different doses (37.5 mg, 75 mg, 150 mg and 300 mg) of a standardised guaraná extract (PC-102). Guaraná improved secondary memory performance and increased alert and content mood ratings. The two lower doses produced more positive cognitive effects than the higher doses. This research supports previous findings of cognitive improvements following 75 mg guaraná and provides the first exploration of different dose effects of guaraná in humans. The findings suggest that the guarana effects cannot be attributed to caffeine alone. No major guarana side effects were reported.

Improved Cognitive Performance in Human Volunteers Following Administration of Guarana (Paullinia Cupana) Extract: Comparison and Interaction with Panax Ginseng

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2004. Kennedy DO, Haskell CF, Wesnes KA, Scholey AB.

Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, Division of Psychology, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST, United Kingdom.

In this double-blind, counterbalanced, placebo-controlled study, the cognitive and mood effects of separate single doses of: 75 mg of a dried ethanolic extract of guarana (approx 12% caffeine), 200 mg of Panax ginseng (G115), and their combination (75 mg/200 mg), were assessed in 28 healthy young (18-24) participants. In comparison to placebo, all three treatments resulted in improved task performance throughout the day. In the case of guarana, improvements were seen across ‘attention’ tasks (but with some evidence of reduced accuracy), and on a sentence verification task. While also increasing the speed of attention task performance, both ginseng and the ginseng – guarana combination also enhanced the speed of memory task performance, with little evidence of modulated accuracy. Guarana and the combination, and to a lesser extent ginseng, also led to significant improvements in serial subtraction task performance. Given the low caffeine content (9 mg) of this dose of guarana extract, the effects are unlikely to be attributable to its caffeine content. No significant guarana side effects were reported.