Elon International Studies: Brazil



Meet the Crew

Life in a Favela

Adventures in the

Black, White, and in
Between: Diversity
in Brazil


Biodiversity in the Amazon

Samba School

Favela Tour Opens Students' Eyes

Quality of Life
in Brazil

A Country that Runs
on Alcohol

Racial Inequality in

Ancient Indian
Remedy, New
Western Craze

Maracana Stadium

The Amazon


A Dish With Many Tastes

The Music and Dance
of Brazil as seen in
the Samba Schools

without Language

Fixing the
Race Problem

If an Entire Species is
Destroyed Before its
Discovered, Did it
Ever Exist?

The Beauty of Buzios

Salvador's Afro-
Brazilian Culture

Health Care and
Concerns in Brazil


Cristo Redentor

GST 243 Homepage

2004 Archives

Ancient Indian Remedy, New Western Craze

Tyler Gold


G uarana (pronounced gwa-ra-naa) is a berry that grows in Venezuela and the northern parts of Brazil. The name 'Guarana' comes from the Guarani tribe that lives in Brazil. Guarana plays a very important role in their culture, as this herb is believed to be magical, providing relief of intestinal problems and as a way to gain energy. Guarana's biological name, Paullinia Cupana, was taken from the German medical botanist C.F. Paullini, who discovered the tribe and the plant in the 18th century. The success and popularity of the herb has been attributed to its success as an energy drink in Brazil. The main ingredient found in the herb is guaranine, which is chemically identical to caffeine. Guarana based products are very prevenlant in Brazil and have been for many years. Coca Cola and Pepsi have tried to capitalize on the market by creating their own drinks. Coca Cola manufactures “Kuat” in Brazil and is having moderate success, and Pepsi launced “Josta” in the United States, but the drink failed. Most Brazilians feel that most of the drinks are made with too much added sugar, and I agree with them. Adding too much sugar takes credit and effectiveness away from the herb itself, relinquishing any point of even drinking the Guarana in the first place.

Over centuries the many benefits of guaraná have been passed on to explorers and settlers. European researchers began studying guaraná (in France and Germany) in the 1940s, finding that Indians' uses to cure fevers, headaches, cramps, and as an energy tonic were well-founded. Presently, guaraná is taken daily as a health tonic by millions of Brazilians, who believe it helps overcome heat fatigue, combats premature aging, detoxifies the blood, and is useful for intestinal gas, obesity, dyspepsia, fatigue, and arteriosclerosis. The plant is also used for heart problems, fever, headaches, migraine, neuralgia, and diarrhea. Guaraná has been used in body care products for its tonifying and astringent properties, and to reduce cellulite. Guaraná also has been used as an ingredient in shampoos for oily hair and as a ingredient in hair-loss products. In Peru the seed is used widely for neuralgia, diarrhea, dysentery, fatigue, obesity, cellulite, heart problems, hypertension, migraine, and rheumatism.

Today the plant is known and used worldwide (and is the main ingredient in the "national beverage" of Brazil: Guaraná Soda!). Eighty percent of the world's commercial production of guarana paste is in the middle of the Amazon rainforest in northern Brazil-still performed by the Guarani Indians, who wild-harvest the seeds and process them into paste by hand. The Brazilian government has become aware of the importance of the local production of guaraná by traditional methods employed by indigenous inhabitants of the rainforest. Since 1980, FUNAI (the National Indian Foundation) has set up a number of projects to improve the local production of guaraná. Now, under the direction of the FUNAI regional authority in Manaus, many cooperatives in the rainforest support indigenous tribal economies through the harvesting and production of guaraná.

There is no question that the world is in current craze for energy products more than ever in the history of the developing world. Red Bull has seen the success in its profits that have sky rocketed in recent years, even though some country like France and Sweden have banned the drink from being sold in their countries. Red Bull is packed with Taurine and Caffeine making it potentially dangerous. In my opinion I think that Guarana is the safe alternative to the energy drink craze. I predict the production of Guarana in Manaus to increase in future years.