Multivitamins that contain guarana may benefit both mood and cognitive performance, according to a study.
Guarana is a native species of South America and has stimulating properties when taken by mouth. Guarana is also used to enhance athletic performance and to reduce fatigue. It has been used in the past as an aphrodisiac, diuretic, astringent, and to prevent malaria and dysentery, diarrhea, fever, headache, and rheumatism. The active ingredient in guarana was formerly called guaranine (tetramethylxanthine), but was later found to be caffeine.
Guarana has one of the highest caffeine contents of all plants (up to 7%), and has been used by manufacturers for its caffeine content (e.g., Dark Dog Lemon®, Guts®, and Josta®). Although there is no scientific evidence that guarana itself increases mental alertness, its relationship to caffeine makes it probable that it would possess the same effects. It is proposed that the stimulatory effect of guarana is more gradual and sustained than caffeine due to the caffeine-tannin complex. Guarana is generally regarded as safe when not combined with other stimulatory agents, such as ephedra.
In the current study, the authors evaluated the effects of a multivitamin-guarana preparation on participants who performed a working memory task. They recruited 20 subjects with an average age of 29 who were randomly assigned to receive Berocca® Performance (a multivitamin with guarana), Berocca® Boost (a multivitamin without guarana), or a placebo. Thirty minutes after the treatment, the participants performed a cognitive assessment, and their mood ratings were analyzed immediately before and after the task. Some subjects underwent additional cognitive imaging analysis during the task.
The results suggested that people who received the multivitamin containing guarana had significantly better performance, as well as self-rated contentment. Everyone who received a multivitamin, regardless of whether or not it contained guarana, had increased brain activation in areas associated with attention and memory, with the effect being more significant in those who had taken the guarana preparation.
The authors concluded that multivitamins with guarana may benefit both mood and cognitive enhancement. They added that the results demonstrate that multivitamin preparations with and without guarana may help increase brain activation. More information is needed to confirm these findings.
Many other integrative therapies have been studied for possible benefits on cognitive performance. There is strong evidence to support the use of caffeine for this purpose, and good evidence to support the use of bacopa and ginseng.
For more information about guarana, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.
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