Yerba mate is a small tree or shrub, which is native to the South American rainforest. It is found in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay. It is a member of the holly family, the leaves of which have been used to make tea. In some of the South American countries, the tea is considered a national drink. It is also a traditional medicine which is used to treat a number of health ailments. The proponents of yerba mate claim that there are a number of benefits of yerba mate and they can be of great help in a number of health concerns.
The research on benefits of yerba mate is not very extensive. However, existing studies have shown the following health benefits of this shrub.
A study conducted on healthy overweight adults shows that a mixture of yerba mate with some other herbs induced significant amount of weight loss. People who consumed yerba concoction three times daily for a period of 45 days, experienced weight loss, while they also felt full more quickly while eating. It is also known to burn more calories and decrease hunger cravings. There was a study conducted on mice, which found that yerba mate could help in modulating the expression of several obesity related genes, which in turn would produce a potent anti-obesity effect.
Yerba mate extract also helps attenuate heart muscle dysfunction, which results from ischemia, a condition that occurs when blockage in a coronary artery reduces blood flow to the heart. According to a study conducted on mice, yerba mate helped in neutralizing free radicals and protect mice from DNA damage. Studies have also shown that it is a powerful cell protector as Vitamin C and reduces the effects of aging.
Yerba is said to be a good detoxifier. It also helps in boosting the immune system. It is also known to relieve a person of allergies. It has the ability to quicken the mind and increase mental alertness and acuity. It is also known to provide sustainable energy, due to its complex combination of certain alkaloids and caffeine. However, although it contains caffeine in comparable standards to coffee, the stimulation is balanced by the nutritional content present in yerba mate. Hence, it may not always have the same effects on caffeine sensitive people, like caffeine has.
A research conducted on yerba mate and its gastro-intestinal disorders have found that it does in fact help in inducing an increase in bile flow and enhances intestinal transit. Polyphenols found in it have shown to prevent the growth of bacteria responsible for causing bad breath and the bacteria's production of odorous compounds.
Although there are a number of yerba mate benefits, some studies have linked its chronic consumption with increased risks of cancer, such as bladder, esophageal, lung, neck cancer, etc. Researchers have not yet been able to determine how it increases cancer risk, but there is evidence that steeping yerba mate tea at high temperatures may promote the absorption of certain compounds found in the plant, which can increase cancer risk. It can also trigger adverse effects such as insomnia, nausea, headache, etc. People suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease or anxiety should avoid the tea or extract, as it can trigger more side effects. At the same time, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also avoid consumption of yerba mate tea or extract.
The risk factors will also have to be considered before you start consumption of yerba mate. It is recommended you talk to your health care professional before you start taking it to rule out any negative effects.