The gift of guarana
THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) - October 11, 2015 - 10:00am

Athletes are always looking for ways to boost their performance and squeeze more out of a tired body. Students, employees, factory workers and call center agents are constantly fighting off fatigue and lack of sleep while trying to stay sharp in their studies or on the job. The most common ways we achieve this is by pumping ourselves up with coffee or drinks filled with different forms of sugar. The problems are how long the effects last and how to deal with the chemical crash, which sometimes leaves one feeling worse than when one started. A local pharmaceutical company has found a centuries-old solution from Latin America, and used it in formulating a proudly Philippine-made energy drink to help Filipino athletes and the rest of the tired masses.

In a lavish event Friday evening at the Eastwood Mall’s central plaza, Corbridge colorfully launched Black Mamba Energy Drink with Guarana, a berry that grows along the banks of the Amazon River and has been used by the guarani tribe of Brazil for generations. In a five-hour celebration that included capoeira performers, dancers, Brazilian models, as well as a press conference and parade with Black Mamba endorser Marc Pingris, the new drink was introduced to the Philippines market. It is estimated that the local energy drink market is in excess of P 9 billion per annum, and is largely dominated by foreign brands.

The berry itself is literally eye-catching, as it resembles an eyeball. In some oral tradition, it is believed that guarana root (paullinia cupana or paullinia sorbilis) found in the Amazon River basin, was chewed by ancient tribal shaman to increase their physical and mental strength and even their sexual prowess because, in those times, they were believed to be responsible for deflowering the tribe’s virgins. The seeds are most commonly brewed as a tea and consumed in liquid form, although some Brazilian natives have been said to chew the root to achieve similar effects.

Studies on mice have shown that the consumption of guarana increases their physical and mental strength, and even their memory. In other countries, students use guarana to be able to retain more information before exams. In studies performed on rats, guarana increased memory retention and physical endurance when compared with a placebo. A 2007 study on humans in a double-blind, counterbalanced, placebo-controlled study assessed the acute mood and cognitive effects on participants throughout the day using a standardized guarana extract. Guarana improved memory performance and increased alertness and better mood, further supporting previous findings of cognitive improvements following guarana consumption. The study suggested that the effects could not be attributed to caffeine alone, but also to the other components in guarana itself.

Chemically, there are three powerful substances called alkaloids found in the guarana seed. They are guaranine, which is chemically identical to natural caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine. These three tone the central nervous system, the heart, and promote mental focus and clarity, with the proven added enhancement of memory functions. Guarana also benefits from phytonutrients and their link to the fatty molecules in their seeds, allowing it to be absorbed gently and gradually over a sustained time period of at least four to six hours, thus providing the lasting stamina and alertness students and the working class look for. The result is a beneficial energizer for the heart and brain that is relatively mild on the body.

Guarana has also been used to treat low blood pressure and chronic fatigue syndrome, and help with weight loss. One study has even found that guarana is an inexpensive short-term aid to alleviate the fatigue experienced by women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. Guarana has also been used to prevent dysentery and malaria, and treat diarrhea, fever, headache, back pains, heart problems and heat stress. Many dietary aids have been taken off the global market because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found them unsafe. However, guarana has been deemed completely safe. In fact, guarana tablets are one of the best-selling products of a multinational company that specializes in weight loss products, but their products are far more expensive than a bottle of Black Mamba.

“Since guarana is not water-soluble, it lasts longer than coffee does in giving you energy and additional alertness,” explains Aldrin Arce, Black Mamba brand manager for Corbridge. “It also has twice as much caffeine in the same dosage as coffee, so it’s very effective. The black mamba is a higher-level serpent that even other serpents fear. That is the kind of name we wanted for this one-of-a-kind product.”

Pingris, fresh off a second silver medal finish at the FIBA-Asia Championship, said he wishes he had brought some of the new product with him in China.

“We chose Marc Pingris because he is the epitomé of hard work and endurance,” says Corbridge head German Panghulan, who has a long line of successful health supplements and four companies to his credit. “Marc has brought so much honor to the country through his determination and effort, and that is something we want Black Mamba to be identified with.”

Some medical websites call guarana an athlete’s best friend, but it has been hard to get in the Philippines. Through Black Mamba, overworked Filipinos can now have a new source of strength with guarana at any grocery and convenience store.


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