guarana%20plant.jpgGuarana Seed extract is one of five ingredients in Vemma Verve’s    energy blend. Every can of Verve! contains 200 mg of Guarana SeedExtract, which is equivalent to approximately 80 mg of Caffeine.

What is Guarana?

Guarana (Portuguese guaraná) is a climbing plant in the Sapindaceae family, native to the Amazon basin and especially common in Brazil. While guarana features large leaves and clusters of flowers, it is best known for its fruit, which is about the size of a coffee berry. Each fruit contains about one seed, which contains approximately three times as much caffeine as coffee beans. (1,2)


What is guarana used for?

Guarana seed was traditionally used by indigenous people of the Amazon rain forest (Guaranis and Tupis) as a beverage and medicine (3) . This plant was introduced to western civilization in the 17th century following its discovery by Father Felip Betendorf  (1).  It was then introduced into France in the early 1800’s by a physician who had been working in Brazil and it came to be employed in the treatment of numerous ailments. By 1958, guarana was commercialized. (1) Today, nutritionists believe it may be supportive for athletic performance, fatigue and weight control.

What’s in Guarana?

According to the Biological Magnetic Resonance Data Bank, guaranine is defined as the only caffeine chemical in guarana; it is identical to the caffeine chemical derived from other sources, like coffee, tea or mate (4).  Natural sources of caffeine contain widely varying mixtures of xanthine alkaloids other than caffeine, including the stimulants theophylline and theobromine (5)

Below are some of the chemicals found in guarana. (6,7)

Chemical            Plant part    Parts per million
Adenine              seed    
Ash                    seed            < 14,200
Caffeine              seed            9,100 - 76,000
Catechutannic-acid    seed    
Choline                seed    
D-catechin           seed    
Fat                      seed            < 30,000
Guanine               seed    
Hypoxanthine       seed    
Mucilage              seed    
Protein                 seed            < 98,600
Resin                   seed            < 70,000
Saponin               seed    
Starch                  seed            50,000 - 60,000
Tannin                  seed            50,000 - 120,000
Theobromine         seed            200 - 400
Theophylline         seed             0 - 2500
Timbonine            seed    
Xanthine               seed  

Every can of Verve! contains 200 mg of Guarana Seed extract, which is equivalent to approximately 80 mg of Caffeine. Below is a caffeine content comparison of popular caffeinated beverages.











Are there benefits of caffeine consumption?

Caffeine’s effects (and hence those of guaranine) are well known. It stimulates the central nervous system, increasing metabolic rate, and has a mild diuretic effect (1,2) One recent research study showed that caffeine consumption may have benefits for performance and safety in the workplace (8).  The results of another study showed that caffeine may modulate a higher brain function through its effects on distinct areas of the brain, particularly as it relates to working memory (9). Working memory represents the type of brain activity needed to remember things for a short period of time such as looking at a phone number and mentally storing it until its been dialed. While all of these results are promising, the research does not suggest increased consumption of what is considered normal just yet. A 2007 human pilot study assessed acute behavioral effects to four doses (37.5 mg, 75 mg, 150 mg and 300 mg) of guaraná extract. Memory, alertness and mood were increased by the two lower doses, confirming previous results of cognitive improvement following 75 mg guaraná (10). Other laboratory studies showed antioxidant and antibacterial effects, and also fat cell reduction (when combined with conjugated linoleic acid) from chronic intake of guarana (11). Because guaranine is chemically equivalent to caffeine, guaraná is of interest for its potential effects on cognition. In rats, guaraná increased memory retention and physical endurance when compared with a placebo (12).

These studies have not been evaluated by the Food and Dug Administration or any similar government agencies, and do not imply medical or regulatory approval for use of guaraná to enhance cognition.

In the United States, guarana seed powder holds a GRAS-status (Generaly Recocnized As Safe)(13). In on study, Guarana extract reduced aggregation of rabbit platelets by up to 37 percent below control values and decreased platelet thromboxane formation from arachadonic acid by 78 percent below control values (14). It is not known if such platelet action clinically reduces the risk of heart attack or ischemic stroke (15).

From anecdotal evidence of excessive consumption of energy drinks, guarana may contribute (alone or in combination with caffeine and taurine) to onset of  seizures in some people (16).

Please Note: If you are epileptic, pregnant or nursing consult with your health care provider before using caffeine or guaranine.

1. Bennett Alan Weinberg, and Bonnie K.Bealer, The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug (New York: Routledge, 2001) 259-60
2. Leung A Y, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 293-94.
3. Hans T. Beck, "10 Caffeine, Alcohol, and Sweeteners," Cultural History of Plants, ed. Sir Ghillean Prance and Mark Nesbitt (New York: Routledge, 2004) 179
4. Caffiene. Biological Magnetic Resonance Data Bank, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Retrieved on 9/19/07
5. Balentine D. A., Harbowy M. E. and Graham H. N. (1998). in G Spiller: Tea: the Plant and its Manufacture; Chemistry and Consumption of the Beverage.
6. Guarana. Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. Retrieved on  9/18/07
7. Duke, James A. 1992. Handbook of phytochemical constituents of GRAS herbs and other economic plants. Boca Raton, FL. CRC Press.
8. Smith A P. Caffeine at work. Human Psychopharmacology 2005; 20 (6): 441-5.
9. Influences of Caffeine Excess on Activation Patterns in Verbal Working Memory, study results presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), 2005
10. Haskell CF, Kennedy DO, Wesnes KA, Milne AL, Scholey AB. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-dose evaluation of the acute behavioural effects of guaraná in humans. J Psychopharmacol. 2007 Jan;21(1):65-70
11. Bennett Alan Weinberg, and Bonnie K. Bealer, The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug (New York: Routledge, 2001) 192-3
12. Espinola EB, et al. (1997). "Pharmacological activity of Guaraná (Paullinia cupana Mart.) in laboratory animals". J Ethnopharmacol 55 (3): 223-9
13. Energy Drinks
14. Bydlowski SP, et al. (1991). "An aqueous extract of guarana (Paullinia cupana) decreases platelet thromboxane synthesis". Braz J Med Biol Res 24 (4): 421-4.
15. Nicolaou, KC et al. (1979). "Synthesis and biological properties of pinane-thromboxane A2, a selective inhibitor of coronary artery constriction, platelet aggregation, and thromboxane formation". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 76 (6): 2566-2570. PMID 288046.
16. Iyadurai SJ, Chung SS. New-onset seizures in adults: possible association with consumption of popular energy drinks. Epilepsy Behav. 2007 May;10(3):504-8. Epub 2007 Mar 8.