Safe-Use Tips and Potential Side Effects of Yerba Mate

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. 

Side Effects of Yerba Mate | The Tea Talk

Some General Precautions for 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. 

While most of us are aware of caffeine's possible side effects, it does have some potential benefits, too! Drop by our Caffeine Benefits page to learn more. 

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. 

Side Effects of Yerba Mate | The Tea Talk

Yerba Mate and PAHs

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. 

Side effects of yerba mate... Is there a cancer connection? 

While some studies have suggested a link between regular yerba mate consumption and increased risk of certain types of cancer, additional research suggests that other habits and lifestyle choices are behind any increased health concern. 

No study has yet conclusively shown that yerba mate consumption causes an increased risk of cancer. More research is needed to uncover any interdependent relationships between yerba mate, other factors (e.g. tea temperatures and mate processing methods, as well as smoking, alcohol use, diet, and other lifestyle choices), and an increased cancer risk for regular yerba mate drinkers. 

Yerba Mate for Moms and Kids

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. 

What is Yerba Mate Tea?

Get to know more here about this full-of-flavor, beneficial herbal tea. 

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

Choosing Good Quality Yerba Mate

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). 

> > Yerba Mate Side Effects


Andersen T, Fogh J. Weight loss and delayed gastric emptying following a South American herbal preparation in overweight patients. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2001 Jun;14(3):243-250. 

Arbiser JL, Li XC, Hossain CF, et al. Naturally occurring proteasome inhibitors from mate tea (Ilex paraguayensis) serve as models for topical proteasome inhibitors. J Invest Dermatol. 2005 Aug;125(2):207-212.

Bastos DHM, Oliveira DM, Matsumoto RLT, Carvalho P, Ribero ML. Yerba maté: Pharmacological Properties, Research and Biotechnology. Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Biotechnology. 2007;1(1):37-46. 

Bixby M, Spieler L, Menini T, Gugliucci A. Ilex paraguariensis extracts are potent inhibitors of nitrosative stress: a comparative study with green tea and wines using a protein nitration model and mammalian cell cytotoxicity. Life Sci. 2005 Jun 3;77(3):345-58. Epub 2005 Feb 9.

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Gonzalez de Mejia E, Song YS, Ramirez-Mares MV, et al. Effect of yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) tea on topoisomerase inhibition and oral carcinoma cell proliferation. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Mar 23;53(6):1966-1973. 

Harrold JA, Hughes GM, O’Shiel K, et al. Acute effects of a herb extract formulation and inulin fibre on appetite, energy intake and food choice. Appetite. 2013 Mar;62:84-90.  

Heck CI, De Mejia EG. Yerba Mate Tea (Ilex paraguariensis): A Comprehensive Review on Chemistry, Health Implications, and Technological Considerations. Journal of Food Science. 2007 Nov/Dec;72(9):R138-R151. 

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.  

Loria D, Barrios E, Zanetti R. Cancer and yerba mate consumption: a review of possible associations. Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2009 Jun;25(6):530-9.

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

Zak V. 20,000 Secrets of Tea. New York, NY: Dell Publishing, 1999. 

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