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Yerbamate

Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis)

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • 2,5-Xylenol, 3,4-dicaffeoylquinic acid, 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid, 4,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid, 4-oxolauric acid, 5-O-caffeoylquinic acid, acetylated megastigmane glycosides, affinoside 1, aluminum, Aquifoliaceae (family), arbre à maté (French), arbutin, ash, beta-amyrin, Brazilian tea, butyric acid, buxifolioside I, buxifolioside II, caffeic acid, caffeine, caffeoyl derivatives, caffeoyl glucose, caffeoyl-feruloylquinic acids, caffeoyl-p-coumaroylquinic acids, caffeoylquinic acids, caffeoylshikimates, caffeoyl-sinapoylquinic acids, calcium, caminú, Cassine gogonha Raben., Cassine gouguba Guib., cha mate, chimarrão, chloride, chlorogenic acid, chlorophyll, choline, Chomelia amara Vell., cocido (Spanish), congonha, copper, Cruz de Malta™, cup herb, diferuloyl quinic acids, dicaffeoyl-feruloylquinic acid, dicaffeoylquinic acids, dicaffeoylshikimates, erva mate (Portuguese – Brazil), erva-verdadeira, erveira, fat, fatty acid methylesters, fatty acids, feruloylquinic acids, feruloylshikimatesaponins, fiber, flavonoids, green mate, herbal mate, hervea, hot mate with bombilla, hydroxycinnamoylshikimate esters, ilex, inositol, isobutyric acid, isocapronic acid, isovaleric acid, Ilex affinis, Ilex aquifolium L., Ilex argentina, Ilex brasiliensis, Ilex brevicuspis, Ilex buxifolia, Ilex domestica, Ilex dumosa var. dumosa, Ilex dumosa var. guaranina, Ilex integerrima, Ilex mate, Ilex mate St.-Hil., Ilex microdonta, Ilex paraguaiensis St. Hilaire, Ilex paraguariensis A.St.-Hil., Ilex paraguariensis extract, Ilex paraguariensis St-Hil., Ilex paraguariensis var. paraguariensis, Ilex paraguayensis, Ilex paraguayensis St.-Hil., Ilex pseudobuxus, Ilex sorbilis, Ilex taubertiana, Ilex theezans, inositol, ionone, iron, isobutyric acid, isocapronic acid, isovaleric acid, Jesuit’s brazil tea, Jesuit’s tea, ka’a (Guarani), kaempferol, kali chaye, kkiro, magnesium, manganese, mate, mate candy, mate chimarra, mate cocido (Spanish), mate con bombilla (Spanish), mate extract, mate folium, mate green fruit, mate leaves, mate powder, mate tea leaves, Matebaum (German), matee, mateglycosides, matenosides, matesaponins, mate-tea, mate-tea tree, Matéteestrauch (German), Matte Leão™, melanoidins, minerals, neo-chlorogenic acid, nicotinic acid, nitrogen, oleanolic acid, palmitic acid, pantothenic acid, Paraguay cayi, Paraguay herb, Paraguay tea, p-coumaroylquinic acids, phosphorus, phytol, phytosterols, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polyphenol, potassium, protein, pyridoxine, pyrrole alkaloid, quercetin, quinic acid, resin, resinic acid, riboflavin, rutin, sapogenin, saponins, saturated hydrocarbons, silicon, sodium, South American holly, squalene, St. Bartholemeow’s tea, stearic acid, sulfur, tannic acid, tannin, terere, terrerre (Guarani), theobromine, theophylline, toasted mate tea, tricaffeoylquinic acid, tricaffeoylshikimate, trigonelline, triterpene oligoglycosides, ursolic acid, vanillin, vitamin E, xanthines, yerba leaves, yerba mate beverage, yerba matte, yerba-mate, yerva de palos (Spanish), yerva mate (Spanish), zinc.
  • Combination products: Metabolife® Ephedra Free (caffeine, green tea, garcinia, cambogia, yerba mate); YGD (yerba mate, guarana, damiana).
  • Note: This monograph focuses on yerba mate. Yerba mate contains caffeine. Thus there may be theoretical uses, safety issues, adverse effects, interactions, and mechanisms of action associated with caffeine that are not specifically addressed in this monograph. For a more complete overview of yerba mate, information on caffeine is available in the Natural Standard caffeine monograph.

Background

  • Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) is an herb prepared as a traditional drink common in South American countries. It can be served with or without sweetener, either hot or iced, and with fruit juice or milk.
  • Yerba mate contains minerals, caffeine, antioxidants, and other nutrients that may offer health benefits. Traditionally, yerba mate has been used to help reduce mental and physical fatigue. More recently, yerba mate has been used to increase urination, treat headaches, and promote weight loss. However, scientific evidence is lacking. Some studies suggest that yerba mate may reduce blood sugar levels in people who have type 2 diabetes.
  • Some studies suggest that drinking large amounts of yerba mate may increase the risk of some cancers, including oral, renal, and bladder. Also, the caffeine content of yerba mate may cause interactions with various prescription medications or herbal products.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

C Diabetes

Preliminary research suggests that yerba mate tea may benefit people who have type 2 diabetes. More research is needed before conclusions can be drawn.

C Lipid lowering effects

Preliminary evidence suggests that yerba mate reduces lipids in people treated with statin therapy. More research is required before conclusions can be drawn.

C Performance enhancement

In preliminary research, yerba mate had a lack of effect on mood and performance. Further research is required before conclusions can be drawn.

C Weight loss

Yerba mate, as a source of caffeine, has traditionally been used for weight loss. Preliminary research has investigated this use of yerba mate. However, there is a lack of evidence for the effects of yerba mate alone on weight loss at this time.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Abnormal heart rhythm, acne, aging, allergies, Alzheimer’s disease, anemia, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiviral, appetite suppressant, arthritis, asthma, astringent, atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), autism, blood vessel dilation (relaxation), bone diseases, bronchitis, cancer, CNS stimulant, constipation, dental caries, depression, diuresis (increased urine), ear infection, eye disorders, fatigue (physical and mental), food preservation, gout, hair loss, hay fever, headaches, heart disease, hemorrhoids, high blood pressure, hormonal effects, low blood pressure, immune system regulation, infertility, intestinal parasites, kidney stones, laxative, liver protection, lung infections, malaria, memory, metabolic syndrome, muscle and joint disorders, muscle relaxant, nerve pain, nervous system disorders, osteoporosis, pain, Parkinson’s disease, premenstrual syndrome, psychiatric disorders, respiratory problems, scurvy, seizure, skin conditions, stomach disorders, stress, sweating, thyroid conditions, tonic, ulcers, urinary tract infections.

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • Yerba mate leaves have been taken my mouth. Yerba mate has also been taken by mouth as a drink prepared from yerba mate leaves (green or roasted) and twigs infused in hot water or as a liquid or alcohol extract.
  • To treat diabetes, 330 milliliters of mate tea (20 milligrams per milliliter) has been taken by mouth three times daily for 20 days.
  • To lower cholesterol, 330-milliliter infusions have been taken by mouth three times daily before or after meals for 40 days. These infusions have been prepared with either 50 milligrams per milliliter of green yerba mate or 20 milligrams per milliliter of roasted yerba mate.
  • For performance enhancement, one tablespoon of yerba mate tea leaves has been taken by mouth as a single dose.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for yerba mate in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid if allergic or sensitive to yerba mate, its parts, or members of the Aquifoliaceae family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • In general, safety and adverse effects associated with drinking yerba mate may be based on secondary sources, theory, or individual case reports. The chronic use of caffeine, especially in large amounts, may lead to dependence and tolerance. Abruptly avoiding caffeine may cause withdrawal symptoms like headache, irritation, nervousness, anxiety, and dizziness.
  • Yerba mate is considered safe when taken by mouth as a traditional drink, based on use in some South American societies.
  • Yerba mate may cause agitation, changes in heart rate, changes in muscle reflexes and tension, delirium, dependence, habituation (decreased response to stimulus), headache, heartburn, increased rate of breathing, increased risk of certain cancers (bladder, esophagus, kidney, larynx, lung, and mouth), increased risk of venous occlusive disease, increased urination, inflammation in the mouth, irritability, jitteriness, muscle spasms, nausea, nervousness, restlessness, ringing in the ears, skin lesions, sleeping difficulties, stimulation of the central nervous system (convulsions), stomach irritation, ulcers, and vomiting.
  • Use cautiously in people who have abnormal heart rhythms, difficulty sleeping, ear disorders, a higher risk of cancer, muscle disorders, and stomach disorders.
  • Use cautiously in people who are taking agents or products that contain caffeine (cola nut, guarana, and tea) or diuretic agents (agents that may increase urination).
  • Yerba mate may change blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or low blood sugar, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Yerba mate may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in people with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
  • Yerba mate may affect blood pressure. Caution is advised in people with high or low blood pressure or in those taking drugs or herbs and supplements that affect blood pressure.
  • Use cautiously in all people due to the potential for contamination with cesium-137, lead, fungus, or toxic plant products.
  • Avoid using in amounts greater than those commonly found in the diet in children and in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Avoid if allergic or sensitive to yerba mate, its parts, or members of the Aquifoliaceae family.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • There is insufficient reliable information available on the safety of yerba mate during pregnancy or lactation. Safety precautions of yerba mate related to pregnancy and breastfeeding are mostly based on theory and on the adverse effect profile of caffeine.
  • Some studies suggest that drinking yerba mate may lead to symptoms of withdrawal in premature infants. Babies may also have symptoms such as jitteriness and irritability, a high-pitched cry, and changes in muscle tension and tendon reflexes. High levels of caffeine and theobromine have been found in the placenta, the cord serum, the infant’s urine and feces, the hair of both the mother and infant, and breast milk. Some research found that mothers who drink yerba mate on a daily basis may have a 30 percent increased risk of having infants that are small for their age, compared to those who do not drink yerba mate. Some sources indicate that some components of yerba mate may be poisonous or harmful to the development to a fetus. More research is needed to determine the safety of yerba mate for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Most drug interactions associated with yerba mate are based on theory and on the adverse effect profile of caffeine.
  • Yerba mate may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
  • Yerba mate may affect blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also affect blood sugar. People taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Yerba mate may affect blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs that affect blood pressure.
  • Yerba mate may also interact with agents that may treat heart conditions, agents that may treat nervous system disorders, agents that may treat stomach conditions, agents that may treat genitourinary disorders, agents that control heart rate, agents that may treat lung disorders, agents that may treat kidney disorders, alcohol, antiallergy agents, antiasthmatics, antibiotics, anticancer agents, antifungals, antihistamines, anti-inflammatory agents, antiobesity agents, antiparkinsonian agents, antivirals, caffeine, carbamazepine, cholesterol-lowering agents, diuretics (agents that may promote urination), haloperidol, hormonal agents, iron, muscle relaxants, nicotine, pain relievers, sedatives, stimulants, and vasodilators (agents that may increase blood vessel width).

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Most herb and supplement interactions associated with yerba mate are based on theory and on the adverse effect profile of caffeine.
  • Yerba mate may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
  • Yerba mate may affect blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
  • Yerba mate may affect blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking herbs or supplements that affect blood pressure.
  • Yerba mate may also interact with antiallergy herbs and supplements, antiasthmatic herbs and supplements, antibacterial herbs and supplements, anticancer herbs and supplements, antifungals, antihistamines, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, antiobesity herbs and supplements, antioxidants, antiparkinsonian herbs and supplements, antivirals, cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements, damiana, diuretics (herbs and supplements that may promote urination), guarana, herbs and supplements that contain caffeine, herbs and supplements that may treat heart conditions, herbs and supplements that may treat nervous system disorders, herbs and supplements that may treat stomach conditions, herbs and supplements that may treat genitourinary disorders, herbs and supplements that control heart rate, herbs and supplements that may treat lung disorders, herbs and supplements that may treat kidney disorders, hormonal herbs and supplements, iron, muscle relaxants, pain relievers, sedatives, stimulants, and vasodilators (herbs and supplements that may increase blood vessel width).

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Battagim J, Souza VT, Miyasaka NR, et al. Comparative study of the effect of green and roasted water extracts of mate (Ilex paraguariensis) on glucosyltransferase activity of Streptococcus mutans. J Enzyme Inhib.Med.Chem. 2012;27(2):232-240. View Abstract
  2. Berte KA, Beux MR, Spada PK, et al. Chemical composition and antioxidant activity of yerba-mate (Ilex paraguariensis A.St.-Hil., Aquifoliaceae) extract as obtained by spray drying. J Agric.Food Chem. 5-25-2011;59(10):5523-5527. View Abstract
  3. Binaghi MJ, Pellegrino NR, Valencia ME. [Mineral bioaccessibility in yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis St) infusions and mixtures with iron fortified milk]. Arch.Latinoam.Nutr. 2011;61(1):81-86. View Abstract
  4. Bracesco N, Sanchez AG, Contreras V, et al. Recent advances on Ilex paraguariensis research: minireview. J Ethnopharmacol. 7-14-2011;136(3):378-384. View Abstract
  5. Braganca VL, Melnikov P, Zanoni LZ. Trace elements in different brands of yerba mate tea. Biol.Trace Elem.Res 2011;144(1-3):1197-1204. View Abstract
  6. Burris KP, Davidson PM, Stewart CN, et al. Antimicrobial activity of Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) aqueous extracts against Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Staphylococcus aureus. J Food Sci. 2011;76(6):M456-M462. View Abstract
  7. Conforti AS, Gallo ME, Saravi FD. Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) consumption is associated with higher bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. Bone 2012;50(1):9-13. View Abstract
  8. de Souza LM, Dartora N, Scoparo CT, et al. Comprehensive analysis of mate (Ilex paraguariensis) compounds: development of chemical strategies for matesaponin analysis by mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr.A 10-14-2011;1218(41):7307-7315. View Abstract
  9. Festugato M. Pilot study on which foods should be avoided by patients with psoriasis. An.Bras.Dermatol 2011;86(6):1103-1108. View Abstract
  10. Klein GA, Stefanuto A, Boaventura BC, et al. Mate tea (Ilex paraguariensis) improves glycemic and lipid profiles of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes individuals: a pilot study. J Am Coll.Nutr. 2011;30(5):320-332. View Abstract
  11. Lima IF, De Dea Lindner J, Soccol VT, et al. Development of an Innovative Nutraceutical Fermented Beverage from Herbal Mate (Ilex paraguariensis A.St.-Hil.) Extract. Int.J Mol.Sci. 2012;13(1):788-800. View Abstract
  12. Puangpraphant S, Berhow MA, Vermillion K, et al. Dicaffeoylquinic acids in Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis St. Hilaire) inhibit NF-kappaB nucleus translocation in macrophages and induce apoptosis by activating caspases-8 and -3 in human colon cancer cells. Mol.Nutr.Food Res 2011;55(10):1509-1522. View Abstract
  13. Rakocevic M and Martim SF. Time series in analysis of yerba-mate biennial growth modified by environment. Int.J Biometeorol. 2011;55(2):161-171. View Abstract
  14. Rivelli DP, Almeida RL, Ropke CD, et al. Hydrolysis influence on phytochemical composition, antioxidant activity, plasma concentration, and tissue distribution of hydroethanolic Ilex paraguariensis extract components. J Agric.Food Chem. 8-24-2011;59(16):8901-8907. View Abstract
  15. Yatsu FK, Borghetti GS, Bassani VL. Technological characterization and stability of Ilex paraguariensis St. Hil. Aquifoliaceae (Mate) spray-dried powder. J Med.Food 2011;14(4):413-419. View Abstract

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.