The seeds of the guarana plant (Paullinia cupana Kunth, family Sapindaceae) are well-known to many cultures as a stimulant, aphrodisiac, and astringent. Its rhizome was traditionally boiled into a tea by Amazonian cultures. Today, guarana seeds are ground to a fine powder and sold as powder, tablets, and capsules. This review focuses on the traditional uses, phytochemistry, and biological activities of the guarana seed to evaluate its safety as a dietary ingredient. A comprehensive review of published literature was conducted to identify articles that focused on the phytochemistry, pharmacology, and safety of guarana. On the basis of this review, guarana is not currently known to be associated causally with any serious health risks when consumed properly. Overall, guarana is generally recognized as safe as a dietary ingredient marketed for its flavor and caffeine content. If guidelines for caffeine intake are respected, guarana consumption is not likely to be associated with any serious health risks.
Keywords: Paullinia cupana; biological activity; caffeine; guarana; safety.