Yerba Mate for Herbal Naturopathy: properties, benefits, uses, side effects

Yerba Mate is a tonic and stimulating drink used in case of excessive fatigue and overweight.

What Yerba Mate is and what it is used for

Yerba mate is a drink that is prepared with the dried leaves of Ilex paraguanenis, a tree native to South America known as Mate.

The name originates from mati“, the small pumpkins used in the preparation of yerba mate.

The infusion or herbal tea of mate is made by placing the yerba mate in a pumpkin (generally covered in leather or decorated with drawings or carvings) on which hot water is then poured. The drink is then consumed thanks to a special straw called bombilla“.

In the countries of origin, mate or matè is consumed like our coffee for its stimulating and tonic action. For therapeutic purposes, yerba mate is used in case of asthenia and overweight.

Facts of Yerba Mate

Among the properties of mate we find:

  • Stimulant on the central nervous system;
  • antioxidant;
  • cholesterol-lowering;
  • slimming.

Yerba mate works thanks to the phytocomplex present in the leaves that includes chlorogenic acids, caffeine, theobromine, minerals and vitamins, especially vitamin C, B1 and B2.

Health Benefits

The benefits of yerba mate mainly concern the central nervous system. Thanks to the content of caffeine and theobromine, mate has in fact tonic and stimulating action, useful in case of excessive tiredness, fatigue, asthenia.

The consumption of mate can help improve physical and mental performance, promoting memory and concentration in study and work without causing agitation or sleep disturbances.

Mate is also used to promote digestive processes, relieve headaches, prevent damage caused by free radicals and reduce cholesterol levels.

In addition, thanks to its thermogenic action and the ability of this plant to reduce the sense of hunger, the use of yerba mate to lose weight and speed up weight loss in low-calorie diets has spread.

What does Yerba mate taste like

Generally the infusion of mate is not sweetened or flavored, so the mate herbal tea has a “grassyflavor reminiscent of green tea. Eventually the taste of mate can be made more pleasant by adding honey or lemon juice.

How to use

Mate is usually consumed in herbal tea, using about three grams of dried mate leaves per cup of water.

The mate infusion can be consumed as an alternative to coffee and tea and you can drink up to three cups a day.

Contraindications of yerba mate

Yerba mate is contraindicated in case of allergy to one more of its components and is not recommended in pregnancy and lactation.

Care must also be taken in case of cardiovascular diseases and, in any case, it is good not to exceed the recommended doses.

Side Effects of Yerba Mate

At high dosages or in sensitive people, the consumption of yerba mate can give side effects similar to coffee, therefore tachycardia, palpitations, agitation and insomnia.

Description of the plant

Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis), also called Erva Mate or Cimarrón, is an evergreen tree, belonging to the Aquifoliaceae family. Native to Brazil and Paraguay, it is also widespread in other regions of South America. It is a tree that can grow up to 20 m in height.

The flowers are grouped into small bouquets, while the leaves are isolated, leathery, shiny and notched. The fruits are reddish berries.

Habitat of Yerba mate

Ilex paraguayensis grows spontaneously in

  • Argentina;
  • Brazil;
  • Paraguay;
  • Uruguay.


The tradition of preparing mate was learned by the Spanish colonizers from the Guarani Indians. Shredded leaves are used by the indigenous population for the preparation of a kind of infusion called mate.

The natives drink mate in a calebassa (empty pumpkin), using a metal or sometimes wooden straw, equipped with a filter at one end called bombilla.

The word mate in Spanish means “empty pumpkin” and refers to the small vessel, an emptied and dried pumpkin, in which yerba mate tea is traditionally served.

Currently mate is confirmed as a very popular infusion in Latin American countries, especially in Uruguay, where it is drunk daily by a large part of the population. In countries like Argentina, including in its capital Buenos Aires, drinking Argentine mate is a daily ritual in almost every household. Drinking mate for Argentines is a widespread ritual as for Italians to drink a good cup of coffee or for the British tea.

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