What Is Guayusa?
Guayusa or Watchman’s Plant, is an evergreen tea that grows in the upper region of Ecuador, a native tree of South America .
Since ancient times, Amazon indigenous tribes consumed it for its health benefits .
Guayusa is related to the plants Yerba Mate or Mate, both of which are sources of caffeine .
Earlier in the 17th and 18th centuries, Guayusa was brewed like tea by indigenous people in the Ecuadorian Amazon and was traditionally prepared by families every day in the morning whereas Jesuit priests traded it as a medicinal plant.
Even today, it is a common practice to brew the guayusa tea so that everyone in the village can enjoy the benefits of this miraculous plant.
Although it is not tea, the Ecuadorians prepared this tree’s leaves like one.
Why Use Guayusa?
Despite the health benefits that coffee provides, it also has specific side effects on our health such as elevated blood pressure, increased rate of heart disease, increased anxiety, and can cause certain stomach problems as well [2,3,4].
Guayusa, on the other hand, does not contain tannins unlike that found in tea.
Due to the absence of tannins, guayusa tea is not bitter and taste silky and clean.
Guayusa not only tastes good but also provides a numerous amount of health benefits due to its phenolic compounds, some carotenoids and similar antioxidant capacity as found in untreated green leaves .
The constituents of guayusa are rich in antioxidant activity which helped in countering oxidative stress among many people.
Also, carotenoids in guayusa have numerous beneficial effects on human health such as enhancing the immune response and reducing the risk of some degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cataract, and macular degeneration .
The caffeine, polyphenols and the 15 amino acids found in guayusa helped to get clean and focused mind and body.
Guayusa can boost more than just antioxidant properties, however; it contains some health-boosting compounds as well.
Below are some of the health-boosting compounds found in guayusa:
4 Potential Health Benefits of Guayusa
Now that you’ve seen various beneficial properties that guayusa has let’s see how it provides health benefits.
1. Guayusa May Help Lose Weight
Chlorogenic acid, known as an antioxidant, is one of the polyphenolic compounds found in guayusa .
Chlorogenic acid, an ester of caffeic acid, helps to slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream after having a meal .
In a study conducted in 2010, used two groups of mice to see the effect of chlorogenic acid on them .
Both groups were obese mice, but one was given caffeic acid or chlorogenic acid, whereas the other group of mice was the test group (high-fat control group) without any chlorogenic acid .
The obese mice on having supplemented with caffeic acid or chlorogenic acid were found to have its body weight lowered significantly .
Apart from that, the visceral fat mass, plasma leptin, and insulin levels lowered as well when compared to the high-fat control group .
Caffeic acid inhibits fatty acid synthase, leading to improved body weight, lipid metabolism, and obesity-related hormones.
Hence, the results showed that both caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid lowered some of the signs of obesity in the mice .
Key takeaway: Guayusa, aids to weight loss by exhibiting such anti-obesity properties and helps in improving fat metabolism.
2. It Is Good for Neuroprotection
L-theanine is an amino acid, found in guayusa.
The bioactive effects of theanine include antitumor, anti-diabetic, antihypertensive, anti-stress activities, and the ability to improve cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases .
Apart from this, theanine is known to be protective against nerve damage and improves neurological function by reducing cerebral infarction, to protect the brain from cerebral ischemia .
In a study conducted recently showed the effect of this amino acid on a group of healthy adults of the age group 18-40 .
Cortisol, particularly, known as the stress hormone was reduced three hours after the active treatment .
Another study showed that the combination of both L-theanine and caffeine administration improved accuracy during task switching, self-reported alertness, and reduced self-reported tiredness among a group of young adults .
Key takeaway: Guayusa can boost feeling of wellbeing, as L-theanine increases alertness, and increases focus.
3. Guayusa May Help Fight Cancer and Stimulate Immune System
Polyphenols and flavonoids are known for their treatment of a wide range of cancer such as ovarian, breast, cervical, pancreatic, and prostate cancer .
Such polyphenolic secondary metabolites play a huge in cancer acting as anti-cancer agents .
The guayusa tea contains such phytochemicals that help to fight against such types of cancers as flavonoids, saponin, and polyphenols are the key components in the guayusa tea.
These components act as antioxidants that reduce inflammation and help in stimulating the immune system.
Studies showed that a cup of guayusa tea contains almost 30% of phenols, enough to boost the immune system.
Saponins, also found in guayusa, are natural glycosides that possess a wide range of pharmacological properties including cytotoxic activity .
Studies have shown that saponins have a beneficial effect on blood cholesterol level and up to some extent, help in promoting bone health.
Key Takeaway: The phenolic compounds in guayusa prevent the adverse effects of free radicals that can lead to cancer and some chronic disease.
3. It Is a Natural Energy Drink
For people addicted to artificial, unhealthy drinks, guayusa is a life saver as it doesn’t affect the immune system.
Over the last few decades, people are shifting from their unhealthy sports drinks to healthier and cleaner energy drinks.
Nowadays, after knowing the numerous benefits that guayusa provides, people second guess every time they come near another energy drink!
This is because guayusa contains the same amount of energy as any other energy drinks.
On the other hand, for those people who rely entirely on caffeine, guayusa might be their best friend.
Unlike most caffeinated drinks, it doesn’t cause anxiety.
The L-theanine found in the leaves protects against the negative effects that caffeine produces.
It is also safe for those people who are sensitive to caffeine, as even sensitive people can handle guayusa very well.
Key takeaway: Guayusa provides a good amount of energy without keeping you up all night.
Some other health benefits of guayusa include:
- Aids digestion
- Protects vascular health
- Cleans the teeth
- Contributes to conservation
How To Make Guayusa Tea?
Guayusa, although a plant, is consumed as a tea.
You can find guayusa leaves from an import store or some natural health shop.
Here are some of the steps on how you can make your guayusa tea at home:
What You’ll Need:
- Two tablespoons of dried guayusa leaves
- A cup of water
- Bring a cup of water to boil
- Roughly add around 2-3 tablespoons of dried guayusa leaves into a teapot or a cup
- Pour the hot water over the dried guayusa leaves in the cup
- Allow the mixture to steep for a couple of minutes
It is advisable to have not more than 2-3 cups of this tea per day.
Side Effects of Guayusa
Guayusa is a very healthy tea. However, it’s best not taken in excess.
Moreover, if you are sensitive to stimulants, it’s best to take weak brews of this tea. Similarly, women who are pregnant or are breastfeeding should avoid this tea.
It has similar side effects like that of coffee or tea when taken in excess such as:
- Disrupts sleeping patterns
- May cause irritability
- Increase anxiety levels
People who solely rely on coffee find that it doesn’t provide many health benefits whereas green tea drinkers feel like they miss out on the stimulant effect that coffee offers.
Guayusa is a unique alternative acting as a middle ground between the two that solves both the problems.
Guayusa provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, similar to that of green tea. Also, it contains caffeine that provides both energizing and calming feel due to L-theanine, without having any significant side effects!
Not only that, it tastes great as well without having the bitterness that some teas have.
Last but not least, it does not stain teeth like coffee or tea. Instead, it helps in whitening the teeth.