What is it?
Guarana (Paullinia cupana) is a creeping shrub native to the Amazon (and particularly the regions of Manaus and Parintins). In the lushness of the Brazilian Amazon where it originates, it often grows to 12m high. The fruit is small, round, bright-red in color, and grows in clusters.
The Guarana plant originated in the Amazon basin region where local people have long taken advantage of it's stimulating properites. Guarana seeds are a rich source of guaranine, a natural form of caffeine that is slowly released into the blood stream, resulting in a long-lasting energy plateau. It provides the same stimulant benefits of traditional caffeine only with a more gentle and sustained effect.
Guarana seeds are also contain small amounts of the xanthine alkaloids - theophylline and theobromine (popular in chocolate lore), which are mild long-acting stimulants similar to traditional caffeine, although these alkaloids are related more to an increased sense of well being rather than increased alertness.