Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs
Subject: Re: Guarana
From: (Paw Gep)
Date: 14 Jan 1995 11:15:43 -0500

> What can you guys tell me about an herb called Guarana? I have someone here who is using it for weight loss, but I know that most herbs were never meant for that purpose. Is this one of those herbs? Should it be taken for long periods of time?

Guarana is the seed of a flowering vine which contains a compound called guaranine (tetramethylxanthine) which is similar to caffeine (trimethylxanthine). It is widely used to increrase mental alertness. If enough heat is applied to the seed in processing (industrial processing produces such heat) or if the seed is roasted, the tetramethylxyanthine will break down to trimethylxanthine and will produce an effect similar to that experienced from coffee. If the seed is air- dried and stone ground, the breakdown is avoided and a gentle even unnoticable effect can be expected. Most guarana available in this country is either roasted or industrially processed. One must look very hard to find the proper, natural herb. As well, many products which are called GUARANA in big letters on the label actually contain other herbs (in small print on the back) -- most notably Ma Huang and Kola Nut. Either of these herbs would be even more likely to produce anxiety, etc.

My personal experience with non-roasted, stone ground guarana is that it seldom causes such symptoms. Upon investigation another cause is almost always found. As an herbalist, I would NEVER suggest these herbs or this approach to weight loss. I might, however, suggest herbs which assist in assimilation, digestion and elimination used in conjunction with a supervised program of diet and exercise.

-Paw Gep

From: (Dale Woika)

>Guarana is the seed of a flowering vine which contains a compound called guaranine (tetramethylxanthine) which is similar to caffeine

Actually Guarana contains caffeine as the principle psychoactive alkaloid, & the use of such probably poses the same or similar risks as any other form of taking caffeine. I count at least 15 other principle alkaloids.

In William Emboden's book I came across an interesting note about Guarana.

"In October of each year, the Manes and Manduru Kus of the lower and middle Tapajos in the Amazon collect seeds of a woody liana, Paullinia cupana. These seeds mold quite easily, so they are ground and mixed with cassava flour, from the root of Manihot esculenta, and water to form a chocolate-colored paste. Guarana paste is shaped into cylinders that are baked slowly over wood fires until they are as hard as stone. Dried Guarana sticks are shipped to Bolivia and Matto Grosso where they are grated on the tongue of piraracu, a large fish of the Amazon. One-half teaspoon of Guarana shavings in a cup of sweetened hot or cold water is as indespensible to these people as is our morning cup of coffee--and a lot more potent, for Guarana contains five per cent caffiene!"

A few "herbal" coffee substitutes out there, e.g., "morning thunder" (TM) et al, contain Guarana, & are only another source of the common stimulant, caffeine. Hey, don't get me wrong: I like caffeine, but a drug is a drug... As for the weight loss, caffeine helps to alleviate hunger & helps to stay fatigue. Weight loss is best accomplished by eating less & excercising more, but a cup of plain tea or coffee can help dieters who can stomach caffeine.