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What is Bawls Guarana? What are its active ingredients?
For years, almost every culture and society has had the desire to consume products such as coffee and tea in order to fight fatigue, enhance energy levels, and endurance levels in order to increase performance ranging from academics to athletics. Recently, the market for stimulant beverages has been inundated with the arrival of energy drinks to the point of major corporations like Coca-Cola Inc. joining in the foray. Many of these energy drinks promise the ability to increase energy levels to heights never dreamt of with coffee or tea. One such product is Bawls Guarana.
Bawls Guarana, whose genesis comes from a recent college graduate looking for a coffee substitute, is one of the many energy drinks available that receives its caffeine kick from the Amazonian native berry known as guarana (Paullina Cupana). For many years, the Amazonian people have used the guarana berries as a source of energy in times of sparse food as well as a calming agent.
One bottle of Bawls Guarana contains carbonated water, corn syrup, citric acid, guarana extract, Sodium Benzoate (as a preservative), artificial flavors, and caramel color. The active ingredient is obviously the guarana extract which is said to contain a “naturally occurring caffeine is 2.5 times stronger that the type of caffeine usually found in coffee, tea and soft drinks, making BAWLS the most highly caffeinated soft drink in the market since its birth in 1997.” (http://www.bawls.com/company.html)
What claims are made by advertisers and vendors?
· “Effects of Normal Caffeine: Increase Alertness,
Reduce fine motor coordination, cause insomnia, headaches, nervousness and
Effects of Guarana Caffeine: Normally doesn't reduce fine motor coordination, headaches, nervousness, dizziness.” [http://www.hardwaremods.com/reviews/caffeine/bawls/bawls.html]
· “After trying it twice under different conditions, this reviewer can report that the Bawls caffeine high is unobtrusive and seamless, with only the memory of the morning's sunrise to remind you that you've been up for 36 hours.” [http://flakmag.com/misc/bawls.html]
· “The stimulating effects derived from Guarana frequently aren't associated with the kind of stomach discomforts and jitters associated with drinking too much java.” [http://www.thinkgeek.com/caffeine/drinks/2818/]
These are some of the many claims and personal reviews of Bawls Guarana and “guarana caffeine.” It is important to notice that these claims and reviews come from sites that are attempting to promote the image or sale Bawls Guarana. The common theme in these claims and reviews is the attempt at making a clear distinction between “normal caffeine” and “guarana caffeine.” The advertisers and vendors are portraying the caffeine extracted from guarana berries as a pure and less harsh version. One must realize that this is there edge in advertisement. They are able to sell more products by claiming guarana provides gentler and stronger caffeine affects.
“Normal Caffeine” vs. “Guarana Caffeine” … is there a difference??
In order to dispel the notion that caffeine and guarana caffeine are different, we must take the time to define the two. Caffeine is a xanthine alkaloid that is also known as coffeine, theine, mateine, guaranine, or methyltheobromine. It is a compound that natural occurs in a mass variety of plant life, such as the guarana berries in the Amazon. The chemical composition of guarana berries mainly consist of guaranine (aka caffeine), tannic acid, and catechutannic acid starch. Besides the caffeine content, guarana does have a reputation for medicinal purposes due to chemicals like tannic acid that is often used as an antidiarrhoeal. This list of reputed health benefits causes people to believe that the caffeine from guarana berries is more natural and therefore healthier. However, the point is that caffeine is still caffeine. There is no difference from the caffeine extracted for the use of coffee than that caffeine extracted from guarana. [http://chemistry.about.com/od/moleculescompounds/a/caffeine.htm]
Now that we know there is no difference…
WHAT IS THE TRUTH BEHIND THE CLAIMS??
Now that we have established that the caffeine extracted from guarana is the same caffeine extracted from any other plant, we will now look at a study done by Liquori et al (1997). In this random double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, the absorption and subjective effects of caffeine from various mediums (coffee, cola, and capsules) was studied in order to determine if caffeine had a different affect depending on how it was ingested. Thirteen users ingested 400 mg caffeine from 12 oz unsweetened coffee, 24 oz sugar-free cola or 2 capsules. The study concluded that caffeine affects and absorption are not influence by the medium in which they are ingested.
In an attempt to investigate how energy drinks with caffeine affect fine motor coordination, Gillingham et al (2004) conducted a clinical trial with 12 reservists to see how caffeine intake affected the decline in vigilance in sentry duty and other operations. The men were either given caffeine pills or placebos. They were then asked to perform various operations involving marksmanship. The researchers concluded that although caffeine does increase alertness and response time, it is not effective for operations requiring fine motor control or coordination.
As for the truth behind the claim that the guarana extract in Bawls Guarana does not have the same stomach discomforts as in coffee, there is limited research on the topic. It is known that caffeine causes the increase of gastric secretion; however the presence of tannic acid (tannin) in guarana berries and its possible affect in the stomach has yet to be researched fully. Atta et al (2005) discussed that high concentrations of tannin results in rapid stomach muscle relaxation, but more research needs to be done. Furthermore, a study conducted by Campos et al (2003) on mice shows that guarana does have some gastro-protective properties, but then states that the process needs more research. Despite this unresolved issues with guarana and its tannic acid property having a benevolent affect on the gastrointestinal system, Morton (1992) discusses that tannin intake via stimulants (guarana energy drinks) have long been associated with esophageal and oral cancer. Likewise, Morton calls for more research on the topic.
By now the lingering question is whether Bawls Guarana can really deliver higher energy levels without the pains and troubles of other caffeine options (coffee, tea, other energy drinks). There is no doubt that Bawls Guarana has extremely high levels of caffeine. However, we have seen how the caffeine in the guarana berries is the exact same caffeine from all other plants, therefore the conclusion can be made that it will have the same caffeine affects as any other caffeine medium. However, possible beneficial or harmful aspects of chemicals unique to guarana, like tannin, must not be ignored.
Atta AH, Mouneir SM. “Evaluation of some medicinal plant extracts for antidiarrhoeal activity.” Phytother Res, June 2005, pgs.
Campos AR, Barros AI, Santos FA, Rao VS. “Guarana (Paullinia cupana Mart.) offers protection against gastric lesions induced by ethanol
and indomethacin in rats.” Phytother Res, December 2003, pgs. 17(10):1199-202.
Gillingham RL, Keefe AA, Tikuisis P. “Acute caffeine intake before and after fatiguing exercise improves target shooting engagement time.” Aviat Space Environ Med. October 2004, pgs. 75(10):865-71.
Liguori A, Hughes JR, Grass JA. “Absorption and subjective effects of caffeine from coffee, cola and capsules.” Pharmacol Biochem
Behav, November 1997, pgs. 58(3):721-6.
Morton JF. “Widespread tannin intake via stimulants and masticatories, especially guarana, kola nut, betel vine, and accessories.” Basic
Life Sci. 1992, pgs. 59:739-65.
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