6 Awesome Medicinal Properties of Yerba Maté

Leonardo Del Toro
7 min readNov 18, 2018

Maté (Ilex paraguariensis) is a plant native to subtropical regions of South America. It is widely used in the South of Brazil, North of Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Maté beverages have been consumed for centuries as infusions popularly known as chimarrão, or tererê, both made from green dried mate leaves. Maté tea has roasted mate leaves and a deep dark cola look.

As a natural medication, maté is good for arthritis, migraines, constipation, rheumatism, hemorrhoids, obesity, fatigue, liquid retention, hypertension, and stomach and liver diseases. Several recent studies have also evidenced other medicinal properties such as cancer prevention, vaso-dilatation, glycation inhibitor, and free radical scavenger.

Maté beverages are rich in bioactive compounds such as caffeine, phenolic compounds (mainly phenolic acids), and saponins. This article introduces the latest scientific data on maté medicinal properties and daily use.

The joy of drinking maté

Maté is a unique beverage I’ve been enjoying for years. I love coffee, but there is something about maté that is unlike any other caffeinated drink. Maté has the cleanest form of caffeine high you can find and is more than just a pleasure to drink — it’s a complete daily ritual. You prepare the cuia, let the herb swell pour hot water, and drink from the metal straw (bomba), pouring small amounts of hot water several times; you pass it around with your friends. I enjoy going through the steps to prepare it.

There are many types of cuias you can buy; they are beautifully adorned and have different shapes. They are mostly made of gourds, but other materials are also popular.

6 Awesome Medicinal Properties of Yerba Maté

#1 Anti-Diabetic type II Properties

The aggregation between sugar aldehydes and proteins is the basis for diabetic complications when blood sugar is elevated for a long time. Yerba maté works by inhibiting the formation of advanced glycation. Maté extracts have powerful AGE inhibiting qualities.

The anti-diabetic effects of maté are comparable to that of pharmaceutical-grade AGE inhibitor drugs. AGE, which is irreversibly formed, accumulates with aging, atherosclerosis, and diabetes mellitus. Maté combats diabetes at its core, not only lowering blood sugar but preventing the process that aggravates diabetes type II in the long run.

#2 Anti-fatigue and stimulant actions

Yerba maté is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. Metabolic effects of maté appear to have the ability to maintain aerobic breakdown of carbohydrates during exercise for long periods of time.

As a result, more calories are burned, thereby increasing cardiac efficiency and delaying the build-up of lactic acid. Drinking three small cups of maté before your workout will give you noticeably higher energy and endurance levels. Try it, and find out for yourself.

#3 Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory

Oxygen radicals are involved in many human diseases, including cancer, inflammation, liver, and cardiovascular diseases. Yerba maté antioxidant, anti-obesity, and anti-inflammation properties have been thoroughly studied and confirmed [3].

Inflammation is a factor in many diseases: cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. It was determined that yerba maté reduces acute lung inflammation in mice exposed to cigarette smoke. Quercetin was found to be the most potent inhibitor of pro-inflammatory responses in yerba maté.

Yerba maté extracts have been previously shown to provide antioxidant activity and inhibit LDL (the bad cholesterol). Mice fed yerba maté had lower thiobarbituric acid reactive substances in the liver, suggesting that treatment with yerba maté may especially protect the liver.

#4 Mental clarity

Yerba Maté quickens the mind and increases mental alertness and acuity. After drinking a few cups full of mate, one feels a boost of energy, focus, and ability to concentrate on either intellectual or physical work.

Maté gives you mental sharpness, much like coffee but with a difference. It does not give you the jitters. There’s no effect on the nerves. No nervousness, heart palpitations, crankiness, or insomnia. Mate gives you clean high energy and mental clarity. What else can you ask for? Nutrients and antioxidants? You got that too.

Drinking maté may also improve sleep providing collateral benefits. Because maté speeds up metabolism, you’ll also feel more tired at the end of the day. And because the maté caffeine does not affect the nerves, you’re more likely to achieve deep sleep more often. Quality sleep will, in turn, contribute to overall well-being and mental fitness giving you higher energy levels.

Several studies suggest maté might be useful in treating various disorders such as depression, attention deficit, mood, emotional disorders, Parkinson’s disease, extra-pyramidal disorders, hypertension, substance abuse, eating disorders, withdrawal syndromes, and smoke cessation. Yerba maté can inhibit monoamine oxidase (MAO) activity by 40–50%. [15]

#5 Cardiovascular protection

Maté is a powerful vasodilatation agent. Some articles on the web may warn you about increased blood pressure after drinking Mate due to its caffeine content. But remember that mate only has a little more caffeine than black tea.

But the effects of caffeine are outweighed by the vasodilatation properties in maté. Maté is an AGE inhibitor. As mentioned above, AGE creates inflammation of the arteries and decreases vasculatures, and reduces nitric oxide [9]. Maté was found to reverse erectile dysfunction and preserve pressure-induced cutaneous vasodilation in diabetic animals [11].

The diuretic effect of the tea helps reduce hypertension, another leading cause of heart failure. Theophylline found in maté is also an excellent source of theobromine, commonly used for treating high blood pressure. This compound relaxes the blood vessels and facilitates vasodilatation, reducing the load on the heart.

The heart-protective effect of yerba maté comes from different mechanisms. The strong antioxidant effect of phytochemicals may protect the heart and blood vessels against oxidative damage. They may also prevent the peroxidation of lipids. Oxidized lipid molecules tend to accumulate on the arterial walls, especially in damaged areas, forming atherosclerotic plaques.

Atherosclerosis is one of the markers of poor cardiovascular health since it can reduce the blood flow to the heart and other vital organs. When it completely blocks the blood supply to the heart muscles, it causes heart attacks. And, when supply to the brain is affected, it may result in a stroke.

Laboratory experiments have also shown that yerba Maté can reduce platelet aggregation. This reduces the risk of blood clots that can potentially cause stroke or heart attack.

# 6 Weigh loss

Yerba maté was powerful digestive properties. Within 30 minutes of drinking, you’ll feel your stomach juices rumbling. Maté increases stomach acids allowing you to eat a heavy and fatty meal and avoid indigestion. The absorption of food minerals and vitamins is also enhanced due to more efficient digestion.

Yerba maté extracts significantly delay gastric emptying, decreasing the perceived time to fullness and ultimately inducing weight loss. Yerba maté extract has potent anti-obesity effects in adipose tissue controlling the expression of several genes related to obesity processes, such as inflammatory markers.

Yerba maté is also a potent pancreatic lipase inhibitor [2]. This enzyme is responsible for breaking down fat that ends up being stored in adipose tissue and around the organs. Pancreatic lipase inhibitors are used in drugs to treat obesity. The inhibitor action of mate is greater than that of green tea. After pancreatic inhibitor action, fat is excreted in the intestines and does not accumulate in tissues or blood. Polyphenol level in yerba maté is higher than in green tea and is the same as levels found in red wines.

Minerals found in maté

Caffeine in maté (matéine?)

Besides caffeine, yerba maté contains two related compounds, theobromine, and theophylline. Some herbalists, however, claim that the stimulant found in maté is not caffeine but a newly discovered chemical they call matéine. This new xanthine supposedly possessed all the positive attributes of caffeine but none of the negatives [7].

Unfortunately, no studies or research validate this hypothesis. However, many scientific studies since then have identified the fact that caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline are the primary active xanthine alkaloids in the maté leaf.

Buy fresh and organic yerba maté here: GoYerbaMate.com

Quality products too at Circle of Drink

Image credit: Flickr.com [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]


  1. Anti-obesity and anti-diabetic effects of Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) in C57BL/6J mice fed a high-fat diet
  2. Maté Tea Inhibits In Vitro Pancreatic Lipase Activity and Has Hypolipidemic Effect on High-fat Diet-induced Obese Mice
  3. Yerba maté: Pharmacological Properties, Research and Biotechnology
  4. Yerba Mate Tea (Ilex paraguariensis): A Comprehensive Review on Chemistry, Health Implications, and Technological Considerations
  6. Effects of Mate´ Tea (Ilex paraguariensis) Ingestion on mRNA Expression of Antioxidant Enzymes, Lipid Peroxidation, and Total Antioxidant Status in Healthy Young Women
  7. Caffeine (1, 3, 7-trimethylxanthine) in Foods: A Comprehensive Review on Consumption, Functionality, Safety, and Regulatory Matters
  8. Yerba Maté FAQ “Just Like Green Tea, Only Better!”
  9. Chelation: A Fundamental Mechanism of Action of AGE Inhibitors, AGE Breakers, and Other Inhibitors of Diabetes Complications
  10. Assessment report on Ilex paraguariensis St. Hilaire, folium
  11. Phenolic compounds, antioxidant activity and in vitro inhibitory potential against key enzymes relevant for hyperglycemia and hypertension of commonly used medicinal plants, herbs and spices in Latin America
  12. Inhibitors of Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs): Potential Utility for the Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease
  13. Endothelium-dependent vasorelaxing activity of aqueous extracts of Ilex paraguariensis on mesenteric arterial bed of rats
  14. Effect of erva-mate (Ilex paraguariensis A. St.-Hil., Aquifoliaceae) on serum cholesterol, triacylglycerides and glucose in Wistar rats fed a diet supplemented with fat and sugar
  15. The impact of caffeine on mood, cognitive function, performance and hydration: a review of benefits and risks
  16. Caffeine and the central nervous system: mechanisms of action, biochemical, metabolic and psychostimulant effects