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Guayusa extract

Guayusa extract

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Powdered Guayusa extract. 20% caffeine by weight. Soluble in water.  1g to 250ml water.

Botanical name: Ilex guayusa

Other names: Guayusa, waisa (Kichwa), wayus, wais (Shuar)

Family: Aquifoliaceae (Holly family)

Parts used: Leaves

Guayusa (pronounced 'gwhy-you-sa' or 'hua-you-sa') is one of only four caffeinated species in the Holly genus (1). It is native to the tropical rainforests of the western Amazon, mainly Ecuador but it is also found in north eastern Peru and South Western Columbia (2).

The leaves of the tree are harvested and used to make an energy boosting tea. The use of Guayusa in South America is ancient. Radio carbon dating of guayusa leaves carefully wrapped as grave goods have been discovered in Boliva, dating to 355 C.E (2).

Guayusa is traditionally used by many tribal groups within its geographical range. The word itself is Quechuan in origin. Guayusa is used both for recreation at parties and festivals (1) and also at important tribal ceremonies. It is also used as an admixture to some ayahuasca brews where it is said to give strength to the user(2).

The most well known example is the daily use by the Jibaro (Shaur) people whom consume daily, each morning approximately 2.2 litres of guayusa, brewed for at least one hour. They then proceed to force themselves to purge for the purposes of removing undigested food from the previous day and to stop overdose potential. They say the Guayusa gives them strength and stops them from feeling hungry all day(2). Very useful if you are on a long hunt. The Jibaro also say Guayusa gives them dreams that foretell of hunting success or failure (2).

The stimulating properties of Guayusa tea can be put down to its caffeine content. Caffeine content by dried weight seems to vary from 1.8% - 4% although one wild plant sampled contained a huge 7.6% caffeine, a world record (2).  Our own material has been analysed to contain 2.7-3% caffeine.

The effects of Guayusa tea however seem to be longer lasting and without the jitters, nervousness and anxiety elicited by coffee. This appears to be because unlike Coffee, Guayusa does not increase adrenalin levels in the same way(3). Instead of the quick high and subsequent crash of Coffee, Guayusa provides an energy boost in a slower and more prolonged manner.

Guayusa is also rich in many amino acids, has antioxidant promoting polyphenols & chlorogenic acid.


Avoid if pregnant or breast feeding (Caffeine containing)


(2) Rätsch, C. Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants
(3) Shown to be less stimulating of Adrenaline release compared to green coffee extract. (
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