YERBA MATE

Overview Information

Yerba mate is a plant. The leaves are used to make medicine.

Some people take yerba mate by mouth to relieve mental and physical tiredness (fatigue), as well as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). It is also taken by mouth for heart-related complaints including heart failure, irregular heartbeat, and low blood pressure.

Some people also take yerba mate by mouth to improve mood and depression; for diabetes; high cholesterol; weak bones (osteoporosis); to relieve headache and joint pains; to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs), and bladder and kidney stones; for weight loss; and as a laxative.

In foods, yerba mate is used to make a tea-like beverage.

How does it work?

Yerba mate contains caffeine and other chemicals which stimulate the brain, heart, muscles lining blood vessels, and other parts of the body.

Uses & Effectiveness?

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Mental function. Early research shows that drinking a beverage containing yerba mate does not improve memory, reaction time, or mental accuracy in healthy females.
  • Diabetes. Early research shows that drinking yerba mate tea three times daily for 60 days can lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
  • High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia). Early research shows that drinking tea containing yerba mate three times daily for 40 days can lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol, and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “bad”) cholesterol, in people with high cholesterol. This includes people already taking statin drugs.
  • Obesity. Early research shows that taking yerba mate by mouth might decrease fat and cause weight loss when used alone or in combination with guarana and damiana.
  • Weak bones (osteoporosis). Drinking yerba mate tea every day for at least 4 years might reduce the rate of bone loss in postmenopausal women.
  • Prediabetes. Early research shows that drinking yerba mate tea three times daily for 60 days does not reduce fasting blood sugar in people with prediabetes. However, it might reduce glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C), a measure of average blood sugar.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
  • Constipation.
  • Depression.
  • Fluid retention.
  • Headaches.
  • Heart conditions.
  • Kidney and bladder stones.
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension).
  • Mental and physical tiredness (fatigue).
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs).
  • Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of yerba mate for these uses.

Side Effects & Safety

Yerba mate is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people, when taken by mouth for short periods of time. Yerba mate contains caffeine, which in some people can cause side effects such as inability to sleep (insomnia), nervousness and restlessness, upset stomach, nausea and vomiting, increased heart rate and breathing, high blood pressure, headache, ringing in the ears, irregular heartbeats, and other side effects.

Yerba mate is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken in large amounts or for long periods of time. It increases the risk of esophageal cancer, kidney cancer, stomach cancer, bladder cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and possibly laryngeal or mouth cancer. This risk is especially high for people who smoke or drink alcohol.

Yerba mate is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken in very large amounts, due to its caffeine content.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Children: Yerba mate is POSSIBLY UNSAFE for children when taken by mouth. Yerba mate is linked with an increased risk of esophageal cancer, kidney cancer, stomach cancer, bladder cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and possibly laryngeal or mouth cancer.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Yerba mate is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy. One concern is that using yerba mate seems to increase the risk of getting cancer. It’s not known whether that risk is transferred to the developing fetus. Another concern is the caffeine content of yerba mate. Caffeine crosses the placenta and enters the fetus’ bloodstream, producing caffeine levels in the fetus that resemble the caffeine level in the mother. In general, mothers should avoid consuming more than 300 mg of caffeine daily; that’s about 3 cups of coffee or tea. Infants born to mothers who consume a lot of caffeine during pregnancy sometimes show symptoms of caffeine withdrawal after birth. High doses of caffeine have also been linked with miscarriage, premature delivery, and low birth weight. However, researchers studied mothers who drank yerba mate tea during pregnancy and found no strong link between drinking yerba mate and premature delivery or small birth weight. But this study has been criticized because it did not consider the amount of yerba mate or caffeine used by the mothers; it looked only at how often they used yerba mate.

Yerba mate is also POSSIBLY UNSAFE during breast-feeding. It is not known whether the cancer-causing chemicals in yerba mate pass into breast milk, but that is a concern. The caffeine in yerba mate is also a problem. It might cause irritability and increased bowel movements in nursing infants.

Alcoholism: Heavy alcohol use combined with long-term yerba mate use increases the risk of cancer from 3-fold to 7-fold.

Anxiety disorders: The caffeine in yerba mate might make anxiety disorders worse.

Bleeding disorders: Caffeine might slow clotting. As a result, there is a concern that the caffeine in yerba mate might make bleeding disorders worse. But so far, this effect has not been reported in people.

Heart conditions: Caffeine in yerba mate can cause irregular heartbeats in certain people. If you have a heart condition, discuss using yerba mate with your healthcare provider.

Diabetes: Some research shows that the caffeine in yerba mate may affect the way people with diabetes process sugar and may complicate blood sugar control. There is also some interesting research that shows caffeine may make the warning symptoms of low blood sugar in people with type 1 diabetes more noticeable. Some studies show that the symptoms of low blood sugar are more intense when they start in the absence of caffeine, but as low blood sugar continues, symptoms are greater with caffeine. This might increase the ability of people with diabetes to detect and treat low blood sugar. However, the downside is that caffeine might actually increase the number of low-sugar episodes. If you have diabetes, talk with your healthcare provider before using yerba mate.

Diarrhea: Yerba mate contains caffeine. The caffeine in yerba mate, especially when taken in large amounts, can worsen diarrhea.

Glaucoma: Using yerba mate increases the pressure inside the eye due to the caffeine it contains. The increase in pressure occurs within 30 minutes and lasts for at least 90 minutes. If you have glaucoma, discuss your use of yerba mate with your healthcare provider.

High blood pressure: The caffeine in yerba mate might increase blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. Consuming 250 mg of caffeine can increase blood pressure in healthy people, but this doesn’t seem to happen in people who use caffeine all the time.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Yerba mate contains caffeine. The caffeine in yerba mate, especially when taken in large amounts, can worsen diarrhea and might worsen symptoms of IBS.

Weak bones (osteoporosis): Some researchers have found that postmenopausal women who drink a liter or more daily of a traditional South American yerba mate tea have higher bone density. However, the caffeine in yerba mate tends to flush calcium out of the body in the urine. This can contribute to weak bones. For this reason, many experts recommend that caffeine intake be limited to less than 300 mg per day (approximately 2-3 cups of yerba mate). Taking extra calcium may help to make up for the calcium that is flushed out.

There are some women who are at special risk for weak bones. These women have an inherited condition that makes it hard for them to use vitamin D properly. Vitamin D works with calcium to build strong bones. These women should be especially careful to limit the amount of caffeine they get from yerba mate as well as other sources.

Smoking: The risk of getting cancer is 3 to 7 times higher in people who smoke and use yerba mate for long periods of time.

Interactions?

Major Interaction

Do not take this combination!

  • Amphetamines interacts with YERBA MATEStimulant drugs such as amphetamines speed up the nervous system. By speeding up the nervous system, stimulant medications can make you feel jittery and increase your heart rate. The caffeine in mate might also speed up the nervous system. Taking mate along with stimulant drugs might cause serious problems including increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Avoid taking stimulant drugs along with mate.
  • Cocaine interacts with YERBA MATEStimulant drugs such as cocaine speed up the nervous system. By speeding up the nervous system, stimulant medications can make you feel jittery and increase your heart rate. The caffeine in mate might also speed up the nervous system. Taking mate along with stimulant drugs might cause serious problems including increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Avoid taking stimulant drugs along with mate.
  • Ephedrine interacts with YERBA MATEStimulant drugs speed up the nervous system. Caffeine (contained in mate) and ephedrine are both stimulant drugs. Taking caffeine along with ephedrine might cause too much stimulation and sometimes serious side effects and heart problems. Do not take caffeine-containing products and ephedrine at the same time.

Moderate Interaction

Be cautious with this combination!

  • Adenosine (Adenocard) interacts with YERBA MATEMate contains caffeine. The caffeine in mate might block the affects of adenosine (Adenocard). Adenosine (Adenocard) is often used by doctors to do a test on the heart. This test is called a cardiac stress test. Stop consuming mate or other caffeine-containing products at least 24 hours before a cardiac stress test.
  • Antibiotics (Quinolone antibiotics) interacts with YERBA MATEThe body breaks down caffeine to get rid of it. Some antibiotics might decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Taking these antibiotics along with mate can increase the risk of side effects including jitteriness, headache, increased heart rate, and other side effects.Some antibiotics that decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), enoxacin (Penetrex), norfloxacin (Chibroxin, Noroxin), sparfloxacin (Zagam), trovafloxacin (Trovan), and grepafloxacin (Raxar).
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet) interacts with YERBA MATEMate contains caffeine. The body breaks down caffeine to get rid of it. Cimetidine (Tagamet) can decrease how quickly your body breaks down caffeine. Taking cimetidine (Tagamet) along with mate might increase the chance of caffeine side effects including jitteriness, headache, fast heartbeat, and others.
  • Clozapine (Clozaril) interacts with YERBA MATEThe body breaks down clozapine (Clozaril) to get rid of it. The caffeine in mate seems to decrease how quickly the body breaks down clozapine (Clozaril). Taking mate along with clozapine (Clozaril) can increase the effects and side effects of clozapine (Clozaril).
  • Dipyridamole (Persantine) interacts with YERBA MATEMate contains caffeine. The caffeine in mate might block the affects of dipyridamole (Persantine). Dipyridamole (Persantine) is often used by doctors to do a test on the heart. This test is called a cardiac stress test. Stop consuming mate or other caffeine-containing products at least 24 hours before a cardiac stress test.
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse) interacts with YERBA MATEThe body breaks down caffeine to get rid of it. Disulfiram (Antabuse) can decrease how quickly the body gets rid of caffeine. Taking mate (which contains caffeine) along with disulfiram (Antabuse) might increase the effects and side effects of caffeine including jitteriness, hyperactivity, irritability, and others.
  • Estrogens interacts with YERBA MATEThe body breaks down caffeine (contained in mate) to get rid of it. Estrogens can decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Decreasing the breakdown of caffeine can cause jitteriness, headache, fast heartbeat, and other side effects. If you take estrogens limit your caffeine intake.Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox) interacts with YERBA MATEThe body breaks down the caffeine in mate to get rid of it. Fluvoxamine (Luvox) can decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Taking mate along with fluvoxamine (Luvox) might cause too much caffeine in the body, and increase the effects and side effects of mate.
  • Lithium interacts with YERBA MATEYour body naturally gets rid of lithium. The caffeine in mate can increase how quickly your body gets rid of lithium. If you take products that contain caffeine and you take lithium, stop taking caffeine products slowly. Stopping mate too quickly can increase the side effects of lithium.
  • Medications for depression (MAOIs) interacts with YERBA MATEThe caffeine in mate can stimulate the body. Some medications used for depression can also stimulate the body. Drinking mate and taking some medications for depression might cause too much stimulation to the body and serious side effects including fast heartbeat, high blood pressure, nervousness, and others could occur.Some of these medications used for depression include phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and others.
  • Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with YERBA MATEMate contains caffeine. Caffeine might slow blood clotting. Taking mate along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
  • Nicotine interacts with YERBA MATEStimulant drugs such as nicotine speed up the nervous system. By speeding up the nervous system, stimulant medications can make you feel jittery and increase your heart rate. The caffeine in mate might also speed up the nervous system. Taking mate along with stimulant drugs might cause serious problems including increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Avoid taking stimulant drugs along with mate.
  • Pentobarbital (Nembutal) interacts with YERBA MATEThe stimulant effects of the caffeine in mate can block the sleep-producing effects of pentobarbital.
  • Phenylpropanolamine interacts with YERBA MATEMate contains caffeine. Caffeine can stimulate the body. Phenylpropanolamine can also stimulate the body. Taking mate and phenylpropanolamine together might cause too much stimulation and increase heartbeat and blood pressure and cause nervousness.
  • Riluzole (Rilutek) interacts with YERBA MATEThe body breaks down riluzole (Rilutek) to get rid of it. Taking mate can decrease how fast the body breaks down riluzole (Rilutek) and increase the effects and side effects of riluzole.
  • Theophylline interacts with YERBA MATEMate contains caffeine. Caffeine works similarly to theophylline. Caffeine can also decrease how quickly the body gets rid of theophylline. Taking mate along with theophylline might increase the effects and side effects of theophylline.
  • Verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan) interacts with YERBA MATEThe body breaks down the caffeine in mate to get rid of it. Verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan) can decrease how quickly the body gets rid of caffeine. Drinking mate and taking verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan) can increase the risk of side effects for caffeine including jitteriness, headache, and an increased heartbeat.

Minor Interaction

Be watchful with this combination!

  • Alcohol interacts with YERBA MATEThe body breaks down the caffeine in mate to get rid of it. Alcohol can decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Taking mate along with alcohol might cause too much caffeine in the bloodstream and caffeine side effects including jitteriness, headache, and fast heartbeat.
  • Birth control pills (Contraceptive drugs) interacts with YERBA MATEThe body breaks down the caffeine in mate to get rid of it. Birth control pills can decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Taking mate along with birth control pills can cause jitteriness, headache, fast heartbeat, and other side effects.Some birth control pills include ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel (Triphasil), ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Ortho-Novum 1/35, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7), and others.
  • Fluconazole (Diflucan) interacts with YERBA MATEMate contains caffeine. The body breaks down caffeine to get rid of it. Fluconazole (Diflucan) might decrease how quickly the body gets rid of caffeine. This could cause caffeine to stay in the body too long and increase the risk of side effects such as nervousness, anxiety, and insomnia.
  • Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with YERBA MATEMate might increase blood sugar. Diabetes medications are used to lower blood sugar. By increasing blood sugar, mate might decrease the effectiveness of diabetes medications. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
  • Mexiletine (Mexitil) interacts with YERBA MATEMate contains caffeine. The body breaks down caffeine to get rid of it. Mexiletine (Mexitil) can decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Taking Mexiletine (Mexitil) along with mate might increase the caffeine effects and side effects of mate.
  • Terbinafine (Lamisil) interacts with YERBA MATEThe body breaks down caffeine (contained in mate) to get rid of it. Terbinafine (Lamisil) can decrease how fast the body gets rid of caffeine and increase the risk of side effects including jitteriness, headache, increased heartbeat, and other effects.

Dosing

The appropriate dose of mate depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for mate. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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