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Q: Reliable evidence that guarana is basically caffeine ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Reliable evidence that guarana is basically caffeine
Category: Science > Chemistry
Asked by: justins-ga
List Price: $12.00
Posted: 06 Sep 2004 21:43 PDT
Expires: 06 Oct 2004 21:43 PDT
Question ID: 397757
I had a conversation recently in which I contended that the chemical
ingredient guarana is actually caffeine, and my father-in-law swore
that guarana wass totally different.  My understanding is either that
i) guarana contains caffeine and nothing else that makes it
interesting as a supplement, or that ii) the active ingredient in
guarana breaks down into caffeine once consumed by a person.  I am
looking for some reliable, understandbile (to the lay person) source
to confirm my understanding of the guarana-caffeine connection.

This question relates to chemistry, nutrition, nutritional
supplements, and pharmacology.
Subject: Re: Reliable evidence that guarana is basically caffeine
Answered By: digsalot-ga on 07 Sep 2004 00:14 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello there

The supporters of guarana will quickly tell you that guarana contains
guaranine rather then caffeine.  Or they will admit that guarana has
caffeine but that it also contains guaranine which makes it different.

Does it really?

It is amazing what can be done by just calling a "rose" by a different name.

Don't be fooled if someone tries to tell you that the active
ingredient in, say Guarana, is Guaranine. Guaranine is just caffeine
done up in New-Age terminology.

Those who should know, the pharmacists believe that guaranine is
identical to caffeine because analytical procedures cannot distinguish
between the two substances.  If there is no way to tell them apart,
then a rose is not a thistle, regardless of who wants to call it that.

Guaranine is caffeine.  Some supportive resources follow:

"The main ingredient of guarana, guaranine, is identical to caffeine.
... There is probably only one reason for manufacturers to use guarana
instead of caffeine: the name 'guarana' sounds much more interesting
than 'caffeine', and gives them an excuse to label their products as
'natural' or 'herbal'. This makes it easier to ask a higher price for
their products.

So, from a business perspective, preaching the 'Guarana Gospel' makes
sense. For the consumer however, the presence of guarana only makes
the product more expensive. Drinking a few cups of strong coffee will
have the same effect,..."
Quote from -

There are also claims that the energy boost from guarana lasts longer.
 Well it does.  But that has nothing to do with the guaranine/caffeine
itself.  Those chemical properties are not different.

It has to do with the fat content of the guarana seed itself.  The
guarana seed is fatty (even in powder form) and is not readily
water-soluble. Therefore, the body does not quickly absorb it.  That
means the caffeine is released slowly, over a period as long as 6
hours. The energy boost that is experienced from guarana is not like
that of coffee (a sudden rush and quick drop-off). Rather, the energy
boost continues to escalate over hours.

But once again the difference here is in the fat content, the caffeine
is still caffeine. - information from

"The theory behind how guarana works is relatively straightforward.
The major active constituent is caffeine (sometimes called ?guaranine?
to make you think it?s different in some way) and similar alkaloids
such as theobromine and theophylline (which are also found in coffee
and tea)."

Once again we are simply dealing with calling a rose by a different name.

Quote from

You may be interested to know that the "name game" is not new.  Many
years ago, it went in the reverse: - - - - "The first chemical
examination of guaranį seeds was performed by the German botanist
Theodore von Martius in the 1700s. He isolated a bitter, white
crystalline substance with a remarkable physiological action. Von
Martius named this substance guaranine, [and it was later renamed
caffeine.] - brackets mine. - Quote from Tropical Plant Database

So, here we are - from there to back again - guaranine to caffeine and
back to guaranine.

You may also find it interesting that if you make a web search about
the topic, there are also many sites which will bend over backwards to
convince you that the two substances are different.  Some of these
websites even include lab reports.  LOL, most all of these reports,
when traced back to their source, were issued by "labs" belonging to
interests which profit from guarana sales.

Search - Google
Terms - guarana, guaranine, caffeine, caffeine +and guaranine

If I may clarify anything, please ask.

I finished this just in time, my coffee maker stopped dripping. - - I
need my guaranine fix.

justins-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Extremely well done, with a nice (but unbotrusive) sense of humor to boot.

There are no comments at this time.

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