- Yerba maté (Ilex parguariensis) is a large amazonian tree, the leaves of which are used to make a tea. It is a very popular drink in many south american countries, easily rivaling the popularity of coffee in North America.
- Yerba maté is a great source of antioxidants, which makes it useful for a wide range of conditions from heart disease, to Alzheimers.
- It contains caffeine which gives it stimulating actions, as well as protective support for the heart, lungs, and brain. [1, 2].
- Yerba maté also provides support for the health of the heart through combating the development of high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, and obesity, all of which significantly increase the chances of developing heart disease.
- The stimulating actions of yerba maté are strong enough to produce a noticeable effect on supplying energy for the body, but also contains alkaloids similar to caffeine that reduce many of the side effects of caffeine without removing its benefits.
- Yerba maté is a popular weight loss tea, for its ability to improve metabolism, reduce appetite, and even has a modulatory action on several of the genes associated with obesity .
Yerba maté is best taken as a tea. There are various traditional methods for preparing and consuming this herb with special utensils, which are an interesting method of consuming this herb,but are not necessary. The best way to consume this herb aside from its traditional method is with a french press. Use a liberal dosage of herb (10-15 g), and add about 500 ml (2 cups) of water and allow to steep for several minutes before consuming. This should be drunk often to make use of the full range of benefits this herb has to offer.
The tea itself can be quite bitter, which many do not agree with, so by adding some stevia, honey, or mint, the flavor can be improved to taste.
Use it in
The traditional way of using yerba maté is in a group setting, and is consumed on a regular basis. You can mix yerba maté in with other herbal tea blends if you so choose.
Pairs well with stevia for diabetic conditions.
To improve concentration and memory such as with Alzheimer’s, or to aid with a heavy workload or other form of mental drain, combine with gotu kola or passionflower.
For weight loss, combine yerba mate with guarana, and damiana. This combination has been found to prolong gastric emptying and reduces overall body weight over time .
Yerba maté contains caffeine despite what some online sources suggest. This alkaloid which can cause a spike in blood pressure, muscle jitters and anxiety. Those with high blood pressure should consult their doctor before consuming yerba maté. It should be noted however that these are short term effects and after a few days of regular consumption, a modulation within the adenosine receptors is achieved within the body these effects no longer occur. This physiological change is referred to as a tolerance.
Some older studies have suggested that yerba maté consumption increases the risk of certain cancers, although more recent studies have provided strong evidence of the opposite, suggesting it is useful in treating these conditions instead. .
Science and research
Yerba maté has been found to inhibit lipoxygenase, which is an enzyme found in the body that is involved in the inflammatory process. Some of the anti inflammatory actions of yerba maté are also suggested to be through its ability to reduce adipose mass (fat) which release messenger chemicals that promote inflammation throughout the body .
Yerba maté offers beneficial effects on heart health in several ways. It has been shown to combat the development of atherosclerosis (through inhibiting lipid peroxidation), antioxidant support, cholesterol inhibition, as well as modulation of some of the genes associated with atherosclerosis (paraoxonase-2) [3, 4, 7]. Yerba maté has been found to both lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), while simultaneously increasing HDL Cholesterol (good cholesterol) . Increased cholesterol levels are one of the main markers for heart disease.
Caffeine, as well as the related alkaloid theobromine contained in yerba maté have both been found to produce a stimulating action on the central nervous system, and subsequently improve metabolism and fat burning. Other compounds in the herb promote satiety (the feeling of being full), and others modulate several genes associated with obesity. One recent study suggested that some of these effects are through interaction with the hypothalamus in the brain which is responsible for hunger, thirst, hormone, and temperature regulation. All of which are associated with weight loss or gain. [3, 4, 8].