Guarana contains lots of caffeine and not much else. It’s safe in moderation, although overuse can cause health problems.
Guarana is a plant native to Brazil. It's a rainforest vine that has seeds that resemble human eyeballs. Guarana is also loaded with caffeine - about four times as much as a cup of coffee. It’s powdered after harvesting and used to prepare different drinks and foods. It's common in energy drinks and sometimes shows up in bodybuilding supplements. Guarana is also rumored to increase libido and virility and is sometimes marketed as a booster of sexual prowess.
At low doses, guarana isn't any more dangerous than a strong cup of coffee. Consume too much, however, and you'll experience the unpleasant effects of caffeine overuse: you'll sweat, your heart will beat faster, your blood pressure will spike, and you may become twitchy or irritable. Long-term overuse of caffeine has been linked to problems like insomnia, headaches, and incontinence.
Heavy use of caffeine can also increase your risk of heart disease. Extreme doses of caffeine have been linked to arrhythmia in some cases. If you have a heart condition or are at risk of developing one, you should talk to your doctor about how to use caffeine safely before consuming products with guarana.
The Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center reports that premature ventricular contractions and seizures have been reported after consumption of guarana. The risk of experiencing these symptoms after consuming guarana has not yet been established in the literature.
When guarana is present in an energy drink, you're consuming it with several other ingredients. The interaction of those ingredients with guarana and one another varies from drink to drink. Scattered cases of death after heavy energy drink consumption have been reported - according to the FDA, at least 34 deaths and 54 hospitalizations since 2004. Read the label and use moderation and common sense when consuming energy drinks.
Many of the energy drinks that contain guarana are loaded with high fructose corn syrup. Although it doesn't interact with guarana, it's terrible for you. In the short-term, high fructose corn syrup will cause your blood sugar to spike and is quickly converted into fat. In the long-term, it’s been linked to a broad range of unpleasant health conditions. Read the label and try to limit your HFCS consumption.
Possible short-term side effects
- increased sweat production
- increased heart rate
- increased blood pressure
- mood swings or irritability
- arrhythmia with extreme doses
Possible long-term side effects
- increased risk of heart disease
Commonly found in
- energy drinks
- bodybuilding/weight loss supplements
- reduces fatigue
- increases energy
- promotes weight loss
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Written by Sean McNulty | 09-24-2016
Written by Sean McNulty
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