Yerba Mate – Materia Medica


The Gaurani people of South American considered yerba mate a gift from the gods and later called it a drink of the gods. This plant is one that many people drink for its caffeinated benefits. It is reported to have a caffeine level that is between coffee and tea, which could be used as a stepping stone to switch to tea and other herbal beverages. While this plant has several properties under its belt, the most common use is its stimulating properties. It is consumed in many households in South American and is often sipped from a dried, hollowed out gourd. If you’re curious to try yerba mate, but aren’t ready to part with your coffee, mix the two together and enjoy their complimentary flavors.

  • Common Name: Yerba Mate (Mate, matte, Paraguay tea)

  • Latin Name: Ilex paraguariensis

  • Family: Aquifoliaceae

  • Areas of Origin: Paraguay, Bolivia, Uraguay, Brazil and South Eastern Argentina

  • Botanical Description: An evergreen tree which can grow to over 49’. The bark is smooth and shiny and white in color. The leaves are a dull to glossy mid-to dark green. The flowers are small and green in color and form in clusters. It also bears red, clustered berries that resemble holly berries. The tress growth rate is slow and it thrives in subtropical climates near streams and rivers.

  • Parts Used: Leaves

  • Uses: Energy boosting, pain relieving, mild laxative, immune booster.

  • Actions: Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, astringent, diuretic, stimulant

  • Preparations: Decoction, extract, poultice

  • Taste: Astringent, bitter, weak coffee-like, earthy (acquired taste)

  • Safety: May not be suitable for use while pregnant or nursing. Not recommended for extended consumption or in large amounts. May cause nervousness, restlessness, nausea/vomiting, increased heart rate and breathing.

  • Contraindications (Plant-Medication Combinations): Do not take consume with: amphetamines, cocaine or ephedrine. Moderate interaction with: adenosine, antibiotics, cimetidine, clozapine, dipyridamole, disulfiram, estrogen, lithium, depression medications, anticoagulant/antiplatelet medications, nicotine, pentobarbital, phenylpropanolamine, riluzole, theophylline and verapamil. Minor interaction with: alcohol, birth control pills, fluconazole, diabetes medications, mexiletine and terbinafine.

Until next time, discover the power of welcoming nature’s healing plants into your life.



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