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Yerba mate: Is it safe to drink?

A friend suggested that I try yerba mate tea to boost my energy. What is yerba mate?

Updated: 2023-02-14

Answer Section

Yerba mate, also known as mate, is an herbal tea. It's a traditional drink in Latin and South America. It's made by steeping dried leaves from the yerba mate plant in hot water. Yerba mate can be served cold or hot. Like black or green tea, it has caffeine, which can make you feel more alert and focused.

Drinking yerba mate isn't linked to health problems in most adults. A daily cup of tea made with three grams of yerba mate leaves may be safe for up to 12 weeks. Some studies suggest that the tea may have helpful effects on cholesterol, weight loss, the heart, swelling called inflammation and cancer risk. But more research is needed to confirm these links.

Some studies suggest that people who drink large amounts of yerba mate for a long time may have a higher risk of some types of cancer. This includes cancer of the mouth, throat and lungs. The higher risk is linked with drinking about 1 to 2 liters, or 4 to 8 cups, of yerba mate a day. This risk may go up more if you also smoke cigarettes or regularly drink alcohol. Also, people who are pregnant may want to check with a health care provider before drinking yerba mate.

The caffeine in yerba mate can cause side effects. These include:

  • Upset stomach.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Feeling nervous or restless.
  • Fast heartbeat.

Check with your health care provider before you try this type of tea or any herbal product. Yerba mate can have effects on various medicines, supplements and health conditions.