History - Information
The first record of the use of
Guarana, (a sprawling, shrub like vine) dates all the way back to
1669! It was this year that a Jesuit missionary named J. Felipe
Betendorf visited an area deep in the Amazon Basin where the Maué
Indians were found using it as a daily tonic/stimulant. These Indians
and the white settlers who lived with them lauded the beverage for
its ability to ward off headaches, relieve cramps, fevers, diarrhoea,
water retention and as a nervous system stimulant, and also as an
aphrodisiac. Maybe most responsible for its popularity was the belief
by these people that their daily usage helped to prevent malaria
and dysentery. It is still consumed today for all of these reasons.
They pulverized the seeds and added water until they
had a thick paste, then dried it in stick shapes. Presently Guarana
is used as flavouring for some carbonated soft drinks, is popular
as a stimulant drink and is present in many recreational "health"
drinks and weight loss products.
Guarana claims to be useful to enhance brain function
(Galduroz, & Carlini, 1994). It is used with heavy exercise
routines, to stay awake, and as a stimulant for physical and intellectual
stress (Santa Maria et al., 1998).
Galduroz, and Carlini (1994) found that guarana
did not increase cognition and did not change in sleeping patterns
in normal volunteers. Animals treated with guarana had better physical
performance over time in comparison with animals treated with ginseng.
Guarana also stimulated brain function by reversing the amnesic
effects of scopolamine (Espinola, et al., 1997). Guarana did not
exert any toxic effects nor was sleep time and motor ability affected
in animals treated with high doses (Mattei et al., 1998).