Guarana (Paullina Cupana) is a nutlike seed of a climbing vine that grows in the Amazon basin in Brazil, just south of the Equator. This climbing shrub took the name of its genus from C. F. Paullini, a German medical botanist who died in 1712, first to spot the plant.
It has divided compound leaves, flowers yellow panicles, fruit pear shaped, three sided, three-celled capsules, with thin partitions, in each a seed like a small horse-chestnut half enclosed in an aril, flesh colored and easily separated when dried. It’s used mostly as a powder, from which the concentrate is made off.
After the seeds are shelled and washed they are roasted for six hours, then put into sacks and shaken till their outside shell comes off. They are then pounded into a fine powder and made into a dough with water, and rolled into cylindrical pieces; these are then dried in the sun or over a slow fire, till they became very hard and are then a rough and reddish-brown color, marbled with the seeds in the mass. They break with an irregular fracture, have little smell, taste astringent, and bitter like chocolate without its oiliness.
The Guarana constituents are: Guaranine, a crystallized principle, like caffeine, tannic acid, acid starch, and a greenish fixed oil. It’s said that Guarana is tonic, slightly narcotic stimulant, and aphrodisiac. Its main use in Europe and America is for headache, especially of a rheumatic nature, and as an energy enhance. It is a gentle excitant and estimulates the brain when it is depressed by mental exertion, or where there is fatigue from hot weather.
Guarana has been used for centuries by the indigenous people of the Amazon as natural energy supplement and today over 25% of the soft drinks on the market in Brazil contain Guarana as a main ingredient.