Maté is an evergreen tree native to Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The leaves and small stems of the tree are used to make a tea-like caffeinated beverage. Maté has traditionally been used to enhance alertness and mental function, and also to treat digestive problems.
What is Maté Used for Today?
Maté is widely advertised as a healthful beverage, said to provide all the presumed benefits of green tea, such as preventing cancer and heart disease. However, the basis for this claim is largely theoretical. Maté does contain antioxidant polyphenols
In the test tube, mate has shown effects that suggest possible value for reducing cancer risk.
Other proposed benefits of maté also largely lack foundation. One study found that an extract of mate could help slow glycation, a metabolic side effect of diabetes.
Similarly weak evidence hints that maté might increase fat metabolism,
Another study found that maté might increase bile flow and speed the action of the intestines
Although some maté proponents attempted for many years to maintain that maté does not contain caffeine (supposedly it contained a chemical called “mateine,” which, in fact, does not exist), maté does in fact contain caffeine. Depending on how it is brewed, maté tea contains somewhat more caffeine than black tea and slightly less caffeine than coffee. Based on this caffeine content, maté would be expected to
A typical dose of maté is 3–10 grams dried herb per cup. Concentrated extracts are also available. These should be taken according to label instructions.
As a widely consumed beverage maté is generally assumed to be entirely safe. However, this may be an incorrect assumption. Numerous studies have found associations between high consumption of maté in South American and increased rates cancer of the esophagous, mouth, throat, and larynx.
It is widely stated that this increased risk is entirely due to the practice of drinking maté at very high temperatures. However, the underlying evidence is not so clear-cut. The data actually suggest that at least some of this increased risk is be due to the maté itself, rather than the temperature at which it is consumed.
Other potential problems with maté relate to its caffeine content. Potential side effects of caffeine include heartburn, gastritis, insomnia, anxiety, and heart arrythmias (benign palpitations or more serious disturbances of heart rhythm.)
Maximum safe doses have not been established in pregnant or nursing women, young children, or people with severe liver or kidney disease.
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking:
1. Gonzalez de Mejia E, Song YS, Ramirez-Mares MV, et al. Effect of yerba mate ( Ilex paraguariensis ) tea on topoisomerase inhibition and oral carcinoma cell proliferation. J Agric Food Chem . 2005;53:1966–73.
2. Ramirez-Mares MV, Chandra S, de Mejia EG, et al. In vitro chemopreventive activity of Camellia sinensis , Ilexparaguariensis and Ardisia compressa tea extracts and selected polyphenols. Mutat Res . 2004;554:53–65.
3. Chandra S, De Mejia Gonzalez E. Polyphenolic compounds, antioxidant capacity, and quinone reductase activity of an aqueous extract of Ardisia compressa in comparison to mate ( Ilex paraguariensis ) and green ( Camelliasinensis ) teas. J Agric Food Chem . 2004;52:3583–9.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © 2007 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.