Guarana and weight Loss? Think twice.

The main ingredient of guarana, guaranine, is identical to caffeine. Caffeine impairs the appetite, which can be of some help when you want to lose weight. The principle behind the idea to put caffeine (or guarana) in weight loss products is simple: if you're not hungry, you won' t eat as much as you normally would do.

But: caffeine is cheap, and guarana is expensive. Why on earth would somone replace a cheap ingredient by an expensive (and chemically 100% identical) one? There is probably only one reason for manufacturers to use guarana instead of caffeine: the name 'guarana' sounds much more interesting than 'caffeine', and gives them an excuse to label their products as 'natural' or 'herbal'. This makes it easier to ask a higher price for their products.

So, from a business perspective, preaching the 'Guarana Gospel' makes sense. For the consumer however, the presence of guarana only makes the product more expensive. Drinking a few cups of strong coffee will have the same effect, and is a much cheaper way to reach the same goal - as long as you don't put sugar in it.

There are other potential problems with these products.

  • It is very difficult (if not impossible) to find out if the manufacturer really used guarana, or put in the cheaper caffeine instead. Are you sure you got what you paid for?

  • Dietary supplement products are considered neither food nor drugs from a legal standpoint. Therefore, they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

  • Guarana is often mixed with other products such as Ephedra, also known as Ma Huang. The main ingredient, Ephedrine, is chemically similar to amphetamine. The combination of both turned out to be a potentially deadly cocktail for people with cardiac problems and other medical conditions.

  • Last but not least: as most of these products can be bought anywhere (the so-called off-the-shelf drugs), there is no doctor involved to give you good medical advice.

That is why the Food and Drug Administration encourages consumers to consult with a health-care professional before ordering these kind of products from Internet sites. The use of these products without the involvement of a learned intermediary significantly increases the risk of serious and life-threatening adverse events. These risks include dangerous drug interactions and the possible ill effects of impure or unknown ingredients found in unapproved drugs.

The information on this page is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the product(s) you are taking, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or health care professional. Reference to ”health care provider” or ”health care professional” anywhere in this information guide refers to a licensed professional.

Copyright © 2004-2013 Hans van Rijsse. All rights reserved.