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New Research Shows Guarana Can Help Enhance Cognitive Function

Sarah Regan
August 9, 2023
Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor
By Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.
Image by Javier Díez / Stocksy
August 9, 2023

Whether you're at your work desk, conversing with friends, or immersed in your favorite book, our daily lives require our focus and concentration. To help out, we typically reach for coffee—but according to a new systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal Nutrients1, there's something else we can reach for: guarana seeds. Here's what they found.

Reviewing the findings on guarana on cognition

As a refresher, guarana is a small, round berry that's native to Brazil, according to nutritional psychiatrist Uma Naidoo, M.D.

As Naidoo previously told mindbodygreen, guarana has been used for thousands of years by Indigenous communities in the Amazon2 for its naturally stimulating effects.

Traditionally, the powder of guarana seeds, in particular, is consumed in tea or mixed into beverages, Naidoo says, adding, "But in the modern market, it's largely available in energy [drinks] and soft drinks.

So for this study, researchers wanted to review the existing research on guarana seeds, particularly looking at how consumption of guarana seeds affected factors like cognition tests, performance time, accuracy, etc.

The team identified eight placebo-controlled studies that met the inclusion criteria, providing data on 328 participants. This review and meta-analysis showed that guarana ingestion resulted in faster performance during a variety of cognitive tasks—without affecting the accuracy—compared to those participants who took a placebo.

"Whether the changes were linked to the caffeine content or other bioavailable substances in guarana is unknown," the study authors note, adding that additional studies are needed to better understand the relationship between guarana, caffeine, and cognition.

What to do about it

Not only has guarana been shown to improve cognition, but as a botanical ingredient, it also offers an impressive cocktail of native antioxidant compounds, including caffeine. Collectively, these bioactives are responsible for guarana's valuable whole-body benefits.

And if you want to feel those benefits yourself but you're wondering where to get it, you can find guarana seed as an extract in some nootropic supplements3, like capsules and tablets. You'll also want to look for the botanical genus and species Paullinia cupana on the label, along with the plant part (i.e., seed extract).

Here's a roundup of our favorite supplements for focus, concentration, and memory, to help you find the right choice for you.

The takeaway

Just like coffee, guarana is a versatile plant with thousands of years of use behind it. With both caffeine and other antioxidants, guarana can help support multiple areas of well-being, while also elevating your energy levels and naturally perking you up—providing just the pick-me-up your concentration will thank you for.

Sarah Regan author page.
Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor

Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.