Guaraná, commonly named guaranazeiro and uarana, is a vine native to the Amazon. It is found in Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela, being cultivated mainly in the municipality of Maués, state of Amazonas, and in Bahia. It belongs to the family Sapindaceae, and its scientific name is Paullinia cupana. It is a woody vine, reaching 10 m in height, generating clusters with up to 50 fruits, each with one to three seeds. It has been used for hundreds of years by Brazilian Indians as a source of health and energy drink. It is a sacred plant for the Indians. When they went out to fight, they had guarana as a war supply. During the long journey that separated the villages, they chewed the seeds to increase their vitality.
It is valued in the market for its high caffeine content, which can vary from 2.5 to 6%, and also for its stimulating effects when consumed as a beverage; it also has astringent and antioxidant properties, due to the presence of condensed tannins or proanthocyanidins, which are polymers of catechin and/or epicatechins. The caffeine content of guarana is significantly higher (4 times) than that of coffee, 10 times that of tea, and 30 times that of cocoa. Guarana acts on the central nervous system, preventing fatigue, tiredness and the release of lactic acid, contributes to the body's burning of calories and fights unwanted fat. It relieves stress and stimulates good mood, being indicated for depression. It helps intellectual development and the ability to memorize.
Guaraná’s History in Plantus
Since childhood, the CEO of the Plantus group, Zelita Rocha, has had a great love for this plant typical of Brazilian lands. For the director, Guarana has the face of Brazil. “Paulinea cupana is a beautiful plant to look at and incredible to feel. Its smell refers to the feeling of energy, childhood, school, it refers to the tasty contact with the soda, which does have sugar, but it was consumed at that time.” Zelita Rocha says that when she began her studies with plants, since planting and harvesting is a passion nurtured throughout her life, she began to observe that curious plant whose fruit looked like a little red eye with a little black dot. She also discovered at that time that in addition to the comments that existed about the caffeine present in guarana, which triggers energy in the body, there were methylxanthines, which have a very interesting characteristic of synergistic action to improve mood. It's a humorous plant, it's not just the taste.
So, in 2016, she decided to do a guarana planting experiment at Plantus. A small production began, with its successes and errors. It was cultivated in a small plot of 2 thousand meters and the production was observed. Guarana is a plant with a 2-year cycle and, therefore, it was necessary to have a lot of patience. There were concerns about how to take care of the disease that affects guarana, called rust, unknown until then by Plantus producers. So, among failures and successes, the plantation was taken care of and at the end of 2 years the first guarana produced in the company was obtained. A great spectacle was the flowering of guarana. After the collection of the first fruits, the restlessness came, “what to do?” with the fruits? How to dry guarana? There was a whole investigation of the ethnobotanical part. Including contact with the indigenous people and their traditional Maues communities in the state of Amazonas, checking how guarana was dried, whether it was in the shade, in the sun. So, it was sought to bring all the knowledge of the traditions, for the production of guarana in an organic way. Then, the production of aqueous extracts of guarana began, reaching the equilibrium point of obtaining the free extract of the cold chain with an organic vegetable preservative.
Indigenous legend about Guaraná
It all happened when a childless Indian couple asked the god Tupã to make their desire to be parents possible. The request was granted and the couple had a beautiful, healthy baby boy who was cherished throughout the tribe.
Envious of his qualities, Jurupari, the god of darkness, decided to kill the little Indian. One day, while the boy was gathering fruit in the forest, Jurupari turned into a snake. Tupã sent deafening thunders warning the parents of the danger the boy was in, but there was no time until the snake killed the boy with its venom.
Thus, Tupã ordered the child's eyes to be planted so that a plant could be born from them. The fruit of this plant should be given to people to eat in order to give them energy. In the place where the eyes were planted, the guarana was born, a fruit that has the appearance of eyes.