Plant of the day 5: Paullinia cupana (Guarana)

in steemstem •  8 months ago 

The planet is blessed with a rich diversity of plants but due to limiting factors such as moisture, temperature, sunshine, edaphic factors, physiographic factors, etc., the distribution of plant species is not uniform globally. These factors mitigate against the distribution of organisms generally such that plant species that grow in a particular region might find it totally difficult to survive in another region. However, with the advancement in technology, the stories are now changing and species can be genetically modified to thrive in a region where they cannot normally survive. Such species must be of huge economic importance to man either directly or indirectly.

I first got to know about the plant commonly known as Guarana from the comment of my friend @abigail-dantes after I wrote this post about Azanza garckeana, the snot apple plant. Today's post is a sequel to the promise I made to her to do a little literature search about the plant known as Guarana.

From all indications, Guarana seems to be native to the Amazon Basin which is the region of South America drained by the amazon river and its tributaries. The Basin houses one of the largest forests in the world, the Amazon forest which recently fell a victim of wildfire. However, the distribution of the plant transcends the Amazon forest or South America, it goes as far as the United States, North America, Southeast Asia up to Singapore.

Guarana grows as an evergreen woody climber that can be as tall as 13 meters. It belongs to the Sapindaceae flowering plant family otherwise known as soapberry family. The mature plant produces small white flowers and small, bright red fruits that split open at the ripened stage.

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Guarana plant By Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE - CC BY-SA 2.0, link

What makes Guarana an interesting plant?

Virtually everyone loves coffee. Perhaps I may be wrong but I do not think I have come across anyone that dislikes coffee, although the period of consumption does vary. Coffee is universally loved largely due to caffeine content which has stimulatory and other effects on the human body.

The usefulness of Guarana plant is largely in the black seeds present inside its fruits. The seeds contain a significant amount of caffeine, the same content found in coffee. The most interesting part is that Guarana has twice the amount of caffeine that that coffee has if taking in equal quantities. Better put, a person that consumes one gram of Guarana seeds is consuming twice the amount of caffeine of a person who consumes one gram of coffee. It has been found to be the plant with the highest amount of caffeine content (as high as 10%, coffee has 1-2% caffeine).

In addition, the seed contains other bioactive compounds such as theobromine, theophylline, saponins, other nutritive elements, and tannin which can be as high as 16%. These bioactive compounds make Guarana to have found a lot of ethnobotanical and medicinal uses.

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Guarana fruits showing the black seeds By AnitaFortis - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, link

If you have taken energy drinks in the past (for example, red bull), there is a likelihood that you have taken Guarana. Powder of roasted seeds of the plant is utilized in energy drinks. In fact, the seed is primarily used in brewing drinks in the area of the plant's nativity. Over the years, research has clearly confirmed that caffeine (and indeed, Guarana) increased energy expenditure in human subjects over a12-hour day period.

Guarana seeds have also been found to be useful in the burning of fats and hence, are usually found incorporated into weight loss products. The assertion that the seeds burn fat was further reinforced in a 2001 research by Boozer and his co-researchers who examined the short-term safety and efficacy for weight loss of an herbal supplement containing Ma Huang, Guarana and other ingredients in overweight human subjects.

One of the most remarkable uses of Guana apart form energy expenditure and fat burning is its implication in the alleviation of hot flashes and fatigue associated with cancer symptoms. In research carried out in 2006 to study the chemopreventive effects of Paullinia cupana on mouse hepatocarcinogenesis, it was found that the plant has the capacity to reduce the incidence and multiplicity of macroscopic lesions. More recently in 2015, the plant showed encouraging results in mitigating the symptoms of cancer.

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One of the many Guarana drinks made in Brasil

Guarana has also be found to have antibacterial potentials. According to a research carried out in 2017, the ethanolic extract of guarana inhibited the growth of a strain of Staphylococcus aureus. A similar study carried out by Carvalho and his co-workers in 2016 also showed a similar result. In 2007, different solvent extracts of Guarana seed were tested against the growth of some food-borne fungi and pathogenic bacteria using agar well diffusion and broth dilution methods. The result showed that the extracts of Guarana seed have strong antimicrobial properties and the author recommended its usage in food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.

A number of anecdotal evidence abounds indicating the effectiveness of Guarana seed or its extract in the treatment of a host of other diseases/abnormalities. It has been utilized in the treatment of headaches, indigestions as well as kidney dysfunction. Report also has it that the seed has been used as an analgesic and in the alleviation of menstrual cramps.

A note of warning

There is no doubt that Guarana has several nutritive and medicinal value and can be a huge source of drug in the treatment of several diseases. However, caution should be taken in the use of the seed or its product due to the high amount of caffeine and tannin it contains. Although very little toxicity of Guana is known, tannin has been reported to be responsible for several abnormalities such as loss of appetite, reduced growth rate, decreased feed efficiency, and reduced protein digestibility in studied subjects.

In addition, some studies have reported potentially harmful effects of caffeine, especially when taken in excess. These effects include elevated sugar levels in diabetic patients, depression, loss of pregnancy, etc.

Final thoughts

Guarana is a plant of numerous medicinal potentials. While some have been backed up by scientific research, others are anecdotal. More research needs to be carried out on this plant to ascertain or re-affirm the various claims.reports.

Thank you all for reading.

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Shaid! I didn’t expect you to be available to prepare this post so soon. How wonderful, thank you my dear <3. And there you go, I already learnt how widespread guaraná is across the globe. I thought it was exclusive to South-America :)

In my country we are, in general, aware of guraná’s high caffeine content. For me, it was my weapon of choice back in the university years. In Brazil we have this blend that we call juice, but strictly speaking is not really a juice. It’s a mix of guaraná syrup, guarana powder, peanuts, powder milk and ice! It’s so refreshing and keeps you going for a looong time. It’s virtually a caffeinated meal. But, I suppose that all the fat-burning properties associate to it are thrown out of the window with that blend!

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Guaraná as a mitigator of cancer symptoms is also new information for me, as well as the toxicity aspects of it. Very important to know.

This post has brought so many nice memories back Shaid. It truly made me smile. Thank you so much :*

Bags and bags of love to you from Portugal :D

Yesterday was Nigeria's independence day and hence, a work-free day for me. So, I decided to use it to read up on the plant and bring out this little submission. I think gurana is still underutilised and underresearched. I really do not know why plants of massive potentials are usually not well researched by advanced countries, conspiracy/sabotage by big pharmas? 😅

I really do not know if the plant will survive around here. I will love to have it in my garden as the benefits seem to far outweigh its toxic potentials. The manner with which you described the caiffeinated makes my mouth water

Glad I was able to fulfill my promise to you on time and bring back some nice memories. You deserve the smile as you exude infectious happiness on the steem blockchain virtually everyday.

Enjoy the rest of your day and my love to your family.

conspiracy/sabotage by big pharmas? 😅

Those evil corporations 😅 :P

Thank you my dear <3 , for your constant kindness towards me :*

I know someone who doesn't like coffee...I'm married to him:) But I love coffee.

I was most impressed with the Carvalho study, which to me is more persuasive than anecdotal information.

The result showed that the extracts of Guarana seed have strong antimicrobial properties and the author recommended its usage in food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.

I think I'd rather see this on a food label than some of the additives that are used now. Of course, even 'natural' products can be dangerous, as you indicate in your 'Warning'.

A very interesting read, and the pictures are beautiful!

Coffee is great but everyone can't like the same thing otherwise, it won't go round :). I think I will also be more comfortable with natural products as additives instead of synthetic ones. Thanks for the contribution and thoughtful comments. The pictures are great I agree, kudos to the photographers!

When I was sick my grandmother always said to me: "take a guarana and you are cured all the ills dear son" hehehehehe very strange hehehe! :(

By the way the fruit looks like red minions :P

I know the plant is popular in your region. Have you taken it before? What is the experience like? I'm just going to look up on the red minion. Thanks friend

If it's delicious, it has a little taste of gatorade energy drink. It also depends on how you want to prepare it. Some people take them as hot tea, others as juice and also in kind of medicinal syrup.

Sounds nice. Not sure I can see it around here, would have loved to try it out

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I use green tea instead, Guarana is too hard for me!

Thanks for posting.

Chapper

Do you prepare the tea by boiling fresh leaves or dry processed ones?

Dry!

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I always use the fresh leaves

Unfortunately, we don't have that much fresh green tea here in Germany 😕. But I'm also happy with dry green tea 😋. Regards Chapper

I am a massive green tea drinker @chappertron. By the way, have you ever tried white tea? I understand it is even less caffeinated than green tea. It's delicious and the leaves are beautiful! :)

Currently I try rooibos tea. It's awesome too. White tea I just had as some Kind of Soft drink years ago. Never tried it pure. Maybe I will head to the tea store After work. Thanks for the suggestion. Regards

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My mother in law loves rooibos tea. So, yes, because of her I've tried it before. But, didn't really like the taste :)

Best.

This one I have never tried...

PS: I know (several) people who dislike coffee ^^

If you take energy drinks, there is a chance you have taken it. I guess people in France don't fancy caffeine then.

I have never taken any energy drink, believe it or not. Coffee is my energy ^^

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