Guaraná has been included in the Charge formulation since it delivers the benefits of caffeine without the unwanted side effects and because it appears that Guaraná delivers its own intrinsic benefits relating to alertness, over and above those of caffeine. A risk assessment from European Foods Standards Agency (EFSA) concluded “up to 400 mg of caffeine a day and 200 mg in a single session of two hours does not pose a health risk for general population adults.” The quantity of caffeine delivered by the recommended dose of Charge will amount to around 150mg derived from Guaraná, cocoa and green tea which is equivalent to 3 Pro-Plus tablets, or 3 shots of expresso coffee. EFSA has sanctioned 4 health claims for caffeine. Those that relate to this product are “Caffeine contributes to an increase in endurance performance.” “Caffeine contributes to an increase in endurance capacity.” “Caffeine helps to increase alertness.” “Caffeine helps to improve concentration.” (1) However, in a recent trial whereas significant variation in heart rate over an hour was observed in individuals consuming 100mg of a caffeine supplement, it remained stable under 300mg Guaraná extract (2). The results suggest that Guaraná improves decision-making performance and is accompanied by a stable autonomic nervous system regulation.
Guaraná has long been used as a tonic and to treat various disorders in Brazil and abroad and became a national soda in Brazil about a century ago. As a dietary supplement, Guaraná is an effective stimulant it contains about twice the caffeine found in coffee beans. Generally, South America obtains most of its caffeine from Guaraná. Guaraná is marketed as sticks and soluble or insoluble powder, capsules and is used industrially for the production of sweetened or carbonated soft drinks, syrups, energy shots, an ingredient of herbal tea and other herbalists’ products. Brazilian sales of Guaraná beverages exceed those of cola drinks.
Guaraná seeds were reported to contain 2.7–5.8% caffeine as well as theophylline and theobromine, tannins, resins, tetramethylxanthine, starch, and xanthine (3-5). Caffeine was the major xanthine found in Guaraná seeds while theobromine and theophylline were present in small amounts (5) Guaraná seeds contained 2–4.5% caffeine twice the caffeine found in coffee beans (1–2%). In the United States, Guaraná has been regarded as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Cognitive Behaviour, Anxiolytic, Antifatigue & Antidepressant Activities
Guaraná had been reported to have a long history of use as a stimulant in South America (6). In a double-blind, counterbalanced, placebo-controlled study of 28 healthy young (18–24) participants, treatments of 75mg of a dried ethanolic extract of Guaraná (12% caffeine), 200 mg of Panax ginseng (G115), and their combination (75 mg/200 mg), resulted in improved task performance throughout the day (7). In the case of Guaraná, improvements were observed across ‘attention’ tasks, and on a sentence veriﬁcation task. While also increasing the speed of attention task performance, both ginseng and the ginseng/ Guaraná combination also enhanced the speed of memory task performance. Guaraná and the combination, and to a lesser extent ginseng, also led to signiﬁcant improvements in serial subtraction task performance.
In a pilot double-blind, counterbalanced, placebo-controlled study of 26 humans, different doses (37.5 mg, 75 mg, 150 mg and 300 mg) of a standardised guaraná extract were evaluated for acute, dose-related behavioural effects (8). Memory, alertness and mood were enhanced by the two lower doses supporting previous ﬁndings of cognitive improvements following 75 mg guaraná. However, the ﬁndings suggest that the effects cannot be attributed to caffeine alone.
In a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled, parallel groups study of 129 healthy young adults (18–24 years), a vitamin/mineral/guaraná drink combination resulted in improved task performance, in comparison to placebo drink, in terms of both increased speed and accuracy of performing the Rapid Visual Information Processing (RVIP) task (9). The increase in mental fatigue associated with extended task performance was also attenuated by the supplement. The ﬁndings further demonstrated guaraná’s cognition enhancing properties and provided evidence that its addition to a multi-vitamin-mineral supplement could improve cognitive performance and reduce the mental fatigue associated with sustained mental effort.
De Oliveira Campos et al (10) found Guaraná to be an effective, inexpensive, and nontoxic alternative for the short-term treatment of fatigue in breast cancer patients receiving systemic chemotherapy. Guaraná signiﬁcantly improved the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue (FACIT-F), Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Endocrine Symptoms (FACT-ES) and Brief Fatigue Inventory (BFI), global scores compared to placebo on days 21 and 49.
1. EFSA Journal 2011;9(4):2054
2. Pomportes. L, Davranche. K,, Brisswalter I, Hays. A, Brisswalter.J, Heart Rate Variability and Cognitive Function Following a Multi-Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation with Added Guaraná (Paullinia cupana) Nutrients 2015, 7, 196-208;
3. Lleras E (1994) Species of Paullinia with economic potential. In: Hernándo Bermejo JE, Lean J (eds) Neglected crops: 1492 from a different perspective. Plant production and protection series no. 26. FAO, Rome, pp 223–228
4. Henman AR (1982) Guaraná ( Paullinia cupana var. sorbilis): ecological and social perspectives on an economic plant of the central Amazon basin (South America). J Ethnopharmacol 6(3):311–338
5. Duke JA (1992) Handbook of phytochemical constituents of GRAS herbs and other economic plants. CRC Press, Boca Raton,
6. Bempong DK, Houghton PJ, Steadman K (1993) The xanthine content of Guaraná and its preparations. Pharm Biol 31(3):175–181
7. Scholey A, Haskell C (2008) Neurocognitive effects of guaraná plant extract. Drugs Fut 33(10):869–874
8. Kennedy DO, Haskell CF, Wesnes KA, Scholey AB (2004) Improved cognitive performance in human volunteers following administration of Guaraná ( Paullinia cupana ) extract: comparison and interaction with Panax ginseng . Pharmacol Biochem Behav 79(3):401–411
9. Haskell CF, Kennedy DO, Wesnes KA, Milne AL, Scholey AB (2007) A double-blind, placebo-controlled, multidose evaluation of the acute behavioral effects of Guaraná in humans. J Psychopharmacol 21(1):65–70
10. Kennedy DO, Haskell CF, Robertson B, Reay J, Brewster- Maund C, Luedemann J, Maggini S, Ruf M, Zangara, A, Scholey AB (2008) Improved cognitive performance and mental fatigue following a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement with added guaraná ( Paullinia cupana ). Appetite 50(2–3):506–513
11. de Oliveira Campos MP, Riechelmann R, Martins LC, Hassan BJ, Casa FB, Giglio AD (2011) Guaraná ( Paullinia cupana ) improves fatigue in breast cancer patients undergoing systemic chemotherapy. J Altern Complement Med 17(6):505–512