Showing posts with label Guarana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guarana. Show all posts

Jun 24, 2016

Energy Drink Ingredients

Here are some of the most common energy drink ingredients, and where they rate on usefulness and safety. I covered energy drinks this before, but this offers more detail.

Ginseng is used most commonly in Chinese medicine. Ginseng is an herb that has been used traditionally to treat numerous ailments. It is generally thought to boost immunity and improve overall health. Research does not conclusively back up these claims, but short-term use is thought to be safe.

Taurine is an amino acid found in protein, meat, fish, and breast milk. It helps us maintain neurological function and regulate fluid levels. There are some claims that taking a taurine supplement can improve athletic performance, but not much data exists on its efficacy or its safety as either a supplement or energy drink ingredient.

Guarana is an herb that is often used as a stimulant in teas, either added or naturally occurring. Its major component is caffeine. It has been associated with increased energy and enhancement of physical performance.

Ginko biloba is another herb, added to supposedly increase alertness. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years, according to the Mayo Clinic, and research supports its use for some medical conditions including dementia, anxiety, and schizophrenia. For other uses, evidence is lacking or mixed.

Carnitine is naturally produced by our bodies and is a substance that is used to turn fat into energy. You can also buy it as a supplement, and it claims to boost exercise performance.

Some studies suggest carnitine may be promising in treating various health problems, like certain heart conditions, kidney disease, and hyperthyroidism, but in all cases, more research needs to be done.

Jul 18, 2014


This is a climbing plant in the maple family, native to the Amazon basin and especially common in Brazil. Guarana features large leaves and clusters of flowers, and is best known for its fruit, which is about the size of a coffee bean. As a dietary supplement, guarana is an effective stimulant and its seeds contain about twice the concentration of caffeine found in coffee beans (about 2–4.5% caffeine in guarana seeds compared to 1–2% for coffee beans). As with other plants producing caffeine, the high concentration of caffeine is a defensive toxin that repels herbivores from the berry and its seeds.

If you look at the contents of any energy drink, chances are that guarana is listed as one of the main ingredients. European missionaries in 17th-century Brazil recorded the native people’s use of the berry, noting that it not only gave them energy, but allowed them to go for days without feeling hungry. It became a colonial trading commodity that was said to help protect the body from illness, but too much of it was known to cause insomnia.

The caffeine that is found in the guarana berry is thought to be different from the caffeine found in coffee. Guarana contains chemical components called tannins, which are thought to produce a longer-lasting effect than caffeine from other sources. For centuries, guarana berry seeds have been powdered or smoked in a long process that is done by hand. Drinking properly prepared guarana can be central to formal occasions and gatherings, where groups of people pass around a calabash bowl.

Dec 7, 2013

Energy Drinks Unmasked

A friend of mine, Jeff wondered what is in energy drinks that makes them work and are they safe. That sent me scouring my personal stash and the web for answers. The following excludes the larger volume drinks, such as Monster, Red Bull, etc., and offerings from Pepsi, Coke, and others. Those all have their own host of reasons to avoid, but that is for another discussion.

Most of the two ounce shot energy drinks contain varying amounts of taurine, caffeine, sucralose (splenda), niacin, vitamin B12, B6, folic acid, sodium, acai fruit extract, guarana, and many other ingredients that are almost impossible to spell or pronounce. Others have green tea, L-carnitine, ginseng, yohimbine, and all contain water and natural and artificial ingredients (whatever that means). Most have zero calories listed. Many have warning not to take more than one every four or six hours (likely in self defense from the FDA).

Many are described as an energy shot to enhance concentration and improve performance. They do not specify what performance. A number of them are designed specifically for hangover relief, and a few diet suppression. The only difference I could find in these ingredients was more vitamin B12 (in one type 10,000% of the daily value). Some of the names are 'pure energy, 5-hour energy', 'eternal energy, 'extra energy', 'Extra strength energy', 'java-mite', 'XX Energy', 'high energy', 'hangover recovery, 'diet aid', etc.

The majority of the dozen I checked come in little white two ounce bottles covered with shrink wrap covers. Interesting that so many have the identical bottle (with the exception of the bottom indents) and wrapper type regardless of manufacturer. Could find no common denominator other than that. Prices ranged from as low as $.88 to $3.98 for the same size. Interesting to note that one of the most popular and most expensive, 5 hour energy has the least liquid at 1.93 ounces.

Most sites agreed the biggest reason for the jolt is the large amount of caffeine, about as much as two cups of coffee in a small two ounce dose. Studies show they are no better as a pickup than coffee, although they are concentrated in less liquid as well as more convenient and quicker to drink. Annual revenues for energy drinks is about 13 billion dollars.

Bottom line, the caffeine is the kicker, the vitamins go out in the urine, the other ingredients are for flavor, preservatives, and color. None have proven to be bad for us, probably due to the trace amounts contained. None are good for children for the same reasons as coffee. In spite of a few rantings by the usual fear mongers, these have yet to be proven unsafe, with the exception of occasional jitters common to those who do not well tolerate caffeine. In my case, they seem to work as advertised and do not provide any physically noticeable high or low.