Guarana is a climbing plant of the maple family. An herbal tea is made from the seeds of Guarana. It is a popular energy supplement. As compared to coffee beans it has more caffeine. It can contain 3.6% to 5.8% caffeine while coffee has only up to 2%. In North America, it is a popular ingredient in tea and energy drinks. Herbal tea is made by washing and shelling the seeds of Guarana. Its taste is distinctive and very unique. The Guarana plant is named after the Guarani tribe in the Amazon who used this seed to prepare a nutritious drink. It is native to the Brazilian rainforest and the Amazon basin. It belongs to the flowering Sapindaceae family. It bears white flowers in auxiliary clusters with long Lancelot and toothed dark green leaves. The fruit of this plant is very unique in appearance with a reddish-yellow color on the exterior part and white inside. This fruit bears seeds that are famous for therapeutic purposes.
Used extensively from the ages of the Guarani tribe of the Amazon basin, they used the roasted and grounded seeds of this plant to brew a drink, which they believed to be very healthy and nutritious. According to the tribal people, a man can survive on this drink for many days without taking any other food. They usually had this drink before going on a hunt without food for many days, and it is reported that they never felt fatigue or hunger. They referred to it as a miraculous plant that gave relief from headaches, muscle spasms, fever and bowel movement.Brazil is the third largest consumer of soft drinks in the world. So, the Guarana is very popular in Brazil. In Tupi culture, it means that fruit like the eyes of the people. Hernandez Cobo, Spaniard chronicler and Oviedo in the 16th century, introduced it to Europe and to the European colonies. It was commercialized since 1958.
The Guarana plant is a climbing shrub that grows about 10 meters tall, which makes it almost impossible to harvest the seeds from its natural habitat. The stems are yellowish-brown, flexible, long and woody. The leaves of the Guarana herb are compound and are composed of 5 to 9 leaflets that grow about 15 to 33 inches long and 9 to 13 inches wide. They are veined and dark green in color. The flowers bloom in clusters with male and female organs. Each cluster is about 15 to 30 inches long with small, numerous flowers that consist of five sepals and four white petals. Theses flowers are well known for their seeds. These seeds contain caffeine. Its fruits are brown to bright red in color. And they are small in size. Its seeds are black in color. And they are partly covered by areas of white color.
The Guarana is native to the Amazon Basin, and very common in Brazil. In South America it is the most popular form of caffeine used. It is also native to Venezuela. It prefers to grow in temperate and tropical climates; it can be seen in sandy and wet places.
The Guarana plant grows well in acidic soil. It requires well drained, moist and fertile soil. It requires pruning and fertilizers to keep soil acidic. Fertilizers with hydrochloric acid are ideal for them. A pH value between 3.5 and 4.5 is preferable. If the soil is more alkaline, then it should be provided with organic sulfur to lower the pH level.
Temperature and Humidity
The Guarana plant requires high humidity and full sunlight. It grows well in moist places. It grows well in humid and warm climate in the full year and where the temperature will never drop below 65 degree Fahrenheit.
The planting of the Guarana is done by the sowing its seeds, cutting or planting. The seeds to be sown should be fresh or it will fail to germinate. Before planting, you have to soak the seeds for 24 hours in tepid water. At home it is grown in pots. The pots should have multiple drainage holes, and while planting in the bed, the soil should be well drained. Seeds should be sown half an inch deep in the soil and placed in a sunny spot. The soil should be moist during the germination period; hence covering it with plastic is a good idea. A good air circulation is vital for the growth and germination of the seeds; hence you should provide sufficient gap while covering the pots with plastic. This can also prevent fungal growth. Germination will take place only at a temperature of 60 degree Fahrenheit.
Watering is very essential for the Guarana plants. It requires regular watering until germination starts to occur.
As a measure of good care, the Guarana requires fertilizers every month. As it is a climbing shrub, it requires a location where sunlight reaches all the parts of the plant. Water the plant in the early morning before the sun reaches the plant. As it grows tall, a support should be provided in the growing period. Prune the old and diseased branches that make the plant saggy. Branches once flowered should also be pruned to bring down the weight of the shrub, allowing it to grow easily. Trim the unwanted new shoots and store it for new plant if desired.
The Guarana plants are harvested for their seeds and berries. In the Amazon Basin it is harvested as a sustainable rainforest product. Their seeds are used to make powder. This powder is rich in caffeine. It is harvested in the dry season by hand.
Pests and Disease
The Guarana plant contains caffeine and is a natural protection from pests as it repels pests away from plant without harming the Shrub. It contains alkaloids, Polyphenols, Terpenes, Flavonoids and Tannins. They also protect the plant from pests. It is a pest free plant.
Using Guarana improves alertness and memory. It is also used to help with weight loss, as an ingredient in herbal tea, in energy drinks and also in carbonated soft drinks. From the extracts of the Guarans, Brazil produces many soft drinks, mainly cola based. It helps in the increasing of body stamina, fighting fatigue and physical endurance. It is also used in the treatment of diarrhea. They also use it in making chewing gums, candies, mineral water, chocolate bars, juices and Musli. The other therapeutic purposes of this miracle herb are:
- To boost stamina and energy
- To improve memory and brain development
- To cure headache and Pre Menstrual Syndrome
- To be useful as an anti-depressant
- To be effective on arthritis
- To help reduce unhealthy fat levels
- To stimulate metabolism
- To be an effective medication for diarrhea
- To suppress appetite
- To act as an anti-oxidant to fight free radicals
Having discovered a fondness for insects while pursuing her degree in Biology, Randi Jones was quite bugged to know that people usually dismissed these little creatures as “creepy-crawlies”.