Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.
Yerba mate (mate pronounced "mahtay"), is a species of the Aquifoliaceae family to Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, and Brazil. A shrub or small tree, it can grow up to 15 m in height. The leaves always stay green, the plant gets small blossoms of green-white flowers, and bears fruits which measure up to 4 mm x 6 mm in diameter.
How to Make the Tea
While preparing the traditional tea beverage, the branches are cut and held over an open fire to cure the leaves. This process deactivates any enzymes present in the leaves and turns them more brittle, while maintaining the original color of the leaves. Plus, this is the reason for the smokey flavor of the tea.
Another method of making the tea is by par-blanching the leaves in hot, boiling water which deactivates the enzymes and turns the texture of the leaves soft. Later on, the leaves are toasted in a pan over an open fire, which in turn produces the brow-leaf tea.
What are the Side Effects
Often used as a stimulant to relieve mental and physical fatigue, it is available as over-the-counter weight loss supplement. Although it helps suppress hunger pangs, if used in excess, it can be harmful.
The more common side effects may occur while taking some of these medication and/or supplements along with yerba mate:
- Asthma medication
- Oral contraceptives
- Certain antibiotics
- Medication for diabetes (insulin and oral hypoglycemics) and migraine.
- Cold medication that contains decongestants
- MAO inhibitors (used to relieve certain kinds of mental depression) which can cause high blood pressure
Potential Liver Disease
If large doses are ingested, it can affect the liver adversely. There are both positive and negative effects of yerba mate, hence it is best if you consulted a professional healthcare provider before consuming any supplements made by it.
Potential Cancer Risk
Although yerba mate is reported to have anti-cancer benefits (high antioxidant capacity), studies have shown that it can contribute to cancer. The medical journal, Head and Neck, did a study in July 2003 and reported, "drinking yerba mate is a risk factor in developing cancer of the upper intestinal tract, such as the mouth, throat, and esophagus."
Possible Increase in Blood Pressure
Because yerba mate has high levels of caffeine, the Mayo Clinic suggests, "it contains enough to significantly raise blood pressure and heart rate." Those who are taking medication for blood pressure or are sensitive to any stimulants, should steer clear of it.
The side effects are very genuine, hence children, pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised against its usage. People who suffer from depression, anxiety disorders, heart conditions, hypertension, kidney diseases, and ulcers should strictly avoid its consumption.