It's a smart idea to stay informed about any potential side effects of yerba mate, as well as safe-use tips, if you're thinking of making this herbal tea a regular part of your (or your family's) day.
For centuries, in countries around the world, teas and herbal tisanes have been enjoyed and appreciated for their flavor, nourishment, and benefits for well-being. Even so, while teas can be beneficial in so many ways, it's essential to remember that not every tea is the best choice for each of us.
Flavorsome yerba mate is chock-full of wellness benefits, but, before you enjoy some of this herbal tea, browse through these precautions and potential side effects of yerba mate tea.
In general, yerba mate is considered safe for most healthy adults. If yerba mate is new to you, introduce this richly flavorful tea to your diet gradually, and watch for any indications (such as rash or itchiness, headache, irritability, jitteriness, or an upset stomach) that this tea or the amount you're taking may not be best for you.
Enjoy yerba mate tea in moderation and, as with any hot beverage, don't drink yerba mate that is harmfully hot (studies have shown that regularly consuming large amounts of extremely hot beverages may be harmful for the esophagus, larynx, throat, and mouth). Remember to let very hot tea cool for at least 4 minutes before taking that first sip.
Yerba mate, unlike other herbal teas, is naturally caffeinated (mate has about 75 - 85 mg caffeine per 8 oz. cup). So, if you're sensitive to or trying to cut back on caffeine, you may decide to limit how much yerba mate you consume or choose a caffeine-free herbal tisane, instead.
Have a chat with your natural health physician about yerba mate tea if you are being treated for or taking any herbal remedies or medications for any ailment or condition (such as blood-thinning medication, stimulants, birth control pills, or medication for diabetes, depression, high or low blood pressure, any heart condition, or hormone-related concerns), as yerba mate may impact the efficacy of these medications.
If you are thinking of drinking yerba mate to aid in weight management or for support for any wellness concern, please don't make any changes to a current treatment plan without consulting with your primary care provider.
And, if you consume yerba mate regularly and have a medical or dental surgery coming up, ask your healthcare practitioner if you should avoid yerba mate tea (with its blood-thinning properties) until after the surgery.
PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are chemicals that, in larger amounts, can potentially cause concerning short- and long-term health effects. Unhappily, we are exposed to PAHs through various sources - they're in the air, water, and soil around us, as well as in motor vehicle exhaust, certain cosmetic and body-care products, tobacco smoke, and smoked, charcoal-broiled, and barbecued foods.
What do PAHs have to do with side effects of yerba mate? Much yerba mate is processed using a traditional smoke-drying method, in which yerba mate leaves and stemlets are dried over smoky burning wood. Smoked yerba mate may contain significant levels of PAHs.
If you are looking to reduce exposure to PAHs, consider choosing air-dried or unsmoked yerba mate, which will have lower PAH levels than smoked mate.
Herbal teas (like yerba mate) are wonderfully beneficial beverages that can provide safe, healthful, affordable alternatives to many drinks available to families today (such as soft drinks, energy drinks, and artificially sweetened fruit juices).
If you're thinking of introducing nourishing, hydrating herbal teas into your family's diet, you may consider diluting stronger teas to make the taste more palatable for kids - for example, combine yerba mate with fruit juice, warm milk of choice, or another herbal tea or two. And why not add favorite fresh fruit or fruited ice cubes to a jug of iced tea for a fun, pretty, flavorful touch? (You'll find a delicious iced yerba mate recipe here.)
| Related: Rooibos Tea Benefits
Remember, mate does contain caffeine (read more about recommended maximum amounts of caffeine for children and adolescents on our Caffeine Facts page). And, ask your natural health physician about caffeine and good herbal tea choices for your family.
Wondering about yerba mate if you're expecting, planning to fall pregnant, or breastfeeding? Traditionally, yerba mate is considered a beneficial beverage for pregnant women, but please do have a chat with your primary care provider about safe, healthful teas for you and your baby. If you're considering including yerba mate in your diet, ask her or him about potential side effects of yerba mate during pregnancy.
| Related: Tea during Pregnancy on BellyBelly
As with any tea, always purchase best-quality yerba mate from a reputable seller, so you can be confident the tea consists entirely of pure yerba mate (without any other plants, including other Ilex species, added intentionally or unintentionally). Choose organic yerba mate when you can (better for you and for our planet). Poor quality yerba mate, which may include other plants, will have a less pleasant taste and won't provide the same multitude of wellness benefits as good quality yerba mate.
Tea wellness benefits matter - but remember to enjoy your tea, too! Choosing teas that taste delicious and nourishing to you will make you more likely to enjoy these beneficial beverages regularly. And, why not support your healthful decision to drink tea with other wise lifestyle choices to nurture your body and mind and keep them strong, vibrant, and healthy?
Remember, your naturopath, herbalist, or other trusted healthcare provider is a great source for information on the best teas and herbal tisanes for you (including benefits and side effects of yerba mate).
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Klein, GA 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 Oct; 30(5):320-32.
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Miranda DD, Arcari DP, Pedrazzoli J, Jr., et al. Protective effects of mate tea (Ilex paraguariensis) on H2O2-induced DNA damage and DNA repair in mice. Mutagenesis. 2008 Jul;23(4):261-265.
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 Oct;55(10):1509-1522.
Santos I, Matijasevich A, Valle N. Maté Drinking during Pregnancy and Risk of Preterm and Small for Gestational Age Birth. J. Nutr. 2005 May 1; 135(5):1120-1123.
Yerba mate. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yerba_mate.
Zak V. 20,000 Secrets of Tea. New York, NY: Dell Publishing, 1999.
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