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Exploring the Neuroprotective Benefits of Açaí and Guarana

Açaí (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) and guaraná (Paullinia cupana Kunth) are native to the Amazon rainforest and have been integral to Amazonian folk medicine for centuries. These fruits are renowned for their therapeutic properties, particularly in treating inflammation and oxidative stress.

This blog aims to explore their neuroprotective potential, focusing on the findings of a 2023 study published in the Brazilian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

We will examine how these natural remedies might offer novel solutions for managing neurodegenerative diseases, posing the question: Could açaí and guaraná be key players in preventing or mitigating conditions like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease?


Table of Contents

  • Background
  • Study Overview
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion


Exploring the Neuroprotective Benefits of Açaí and Guarana


Açaí smoothie bowl topped with mango slices, blueberries, chia seeds, coconut flakes, and granola, held by a hand



Historically, açaí and guaraná have been vital in both diet and traditional medicine among Amazonian communities.

In recent years, their popularity has soared globally, particularly in health and wellness sectors. Açaí is praised for its rich nutritional profile and potential cognitive benefits, while guaraná is valued for its energizing effects, largely due to its high caffeine content.

Both fruits are celebrated for their potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which are crucial in combating cellular damage and inflammation. These attributes suggest that açaí and guaraná could play significant roles in modern dietary practices and therapeutic interventions aimed at enhancing overall health and protecting against neurodegenerative diseases.


Study Overview

The study titled "Neuroprotective potential of the Amazonian fruits Euterpe oleracea Mart. and Paullinia cupana Kunth," authored by Gabriel Nóbrega da Costa, Letícia Yoshitome Queiroz, Isaque Nilton dos Santos, and Helena Iturvides Cimarosti, was published in 2023 in the Brazilian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

This research aimed to investigate the neuroprotective effects of açaí and guaraná, focusing on their potential to combat neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's diseases.

The study employed both in vitro and in vivo methodologies, using cell cultures and animal models to evaluate the impact of these fruits on neuroinflammation and oxidative stress—key factors in neurodegeneration. The researchers explored the biochemical pathways affected by the bioactive compounds present in these fruits, particularly their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.




The study discovered that both açaí and guaraná have strong abilities to reduce brain inflammation and oxidative stress, which are major factors in brain diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Here are some key results:

In Cell Studies

  • Açaí Extract: When PC12 brain cells were treated with açaí extract (0.5-50 g/mL) and exposed to a harmful protein, the cells stayed healthier and avoided clumping together.
  • Açaí Extract and Mitochondria: In another test, açaí extract (5 μg/mL) helped boost the activity of mitochondria (the energy producers in cells) in SH-SY5Y brain cells exposed to a toxin, lowering harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS) and cell damage by over 40%.
  • Guaraná Powder: When SH-SY5Y brain cells were treated with guaraná powder (0.312 and 0.625 mg/mL) and exposed to a toxin, the cells survived better, showing guaraná’s protective effects.
  • Guaraná Extract: In tests with C. elegans (a type of worm used in research), guaraná extract (10-50 mg/mL) slowed down paralysis caused by a harmful protein and reduced harmful clumping in their cells.

In Vivo Studies (Animal Studies)

Açaí in Young Rats:

  • Study Setup: 10-day-old Wistar rats were exposed to a damaging agent (H2O2) and treated with frozen açaí pulp.
  • Results: The açaí pulp reduced the damage caused by H2O2 and improved the activity of protective enzymes (CAT and SOD).

Açaí in Adult Rats:

  • Study Setup: 90-day-old Wistar rats were exposed to a toxic chemical (CCl4) and treated with açaí pulp for 14 days.
  • Results: The açaí pulp prevented damage to the brain's cortex, hippocampus, and cerebellum, maintaining the activity of protective enzymes and reducing harmful substances.

Açaí in Elderly Mice:

  • Study Setup: 19-week-old mice were given lyophilized açaí powder for 6 weeks.
  • Results: The açaí powder reduced harmful oxidative stress markers (NOX2 and NF-κB) and increased protective responses in the brain's cortex and hippocampus.

Açaí in Rats with Depression-like Symptoms:

  • Study Setup: Male Swiss rats were exposed to an inflammation-inducing agent (LPS) and treated with clarified açaí juice for 4 days.
  • Results: The açaí juice prevented neuron loss, increased protective gene expression (TERT mRNA), and alleviated depression-like behaviors.

These findings suggest that açaí and guaraná could help protect brain cells and improve brain function, supporting their use as dietary supplements to prevent or manage brain diseases.



The implications of these findings are substantial, aligning with existing research that emphasizes the role of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents in neuroprotection.

The high antioxidant capacity and anti-inflammatory properties of açaí and guaraná suggest that these fruits could slow the progression of neurodegenerative diseases and improve cognitive function.

However, the study acknowledges several limitations, including the need for extensive clinical trials to confirm these effects in human populations and to determine the optimal dosages and administration forms.

Future research should focus on elucidating the precise molecular mechanisms through which these fruits exert their neuroprotective effects, as well as conducting long-term studies to assess their efficacy and safety.

Practical applications of these findings could include the development of dietary supplements or functional foods designed to support brain health and mitigate the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Incorporating açaí and guaraná into daily diets could provide a natural, accessible approach to enhancing neuroprotection and overall well-being.



This study underscores the potent neuroprotective properties of açaí and guaraná, demonstrating their ability to reduce neuroinflammation and oxidative stress, which are pivotal in the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.

These findings support the exploration of these Amazonian fruits as natural supplements for health preservation and disease management. Further research and discussion are encouraged to fully understand and harness the therapeutic potential of these remarkable fruits.


Learn more about the vitamins, minerals and natural nootropic plant extracts we use to give your brain a daily boost 

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