Yerba Mate

Mate, Paraguay Tea, Brazil Tea, Jesuit Tea

Ilex paraguariensis F. Aquifoliaceae

This information on Herbs is provided 
free from Isabell Shipard’s Herb book.

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Herb Book Commendations


Hardy, attractive evergreen bush to small tree, up to 6 metres high, which is drought hardy and light frost tolerant. Dark green, glossy, elliptic-shaped leaves to 10cm with fine, serrated margins. Petite, white flowers are inconspicuous, as they set close in the leaf axils. Small round seeds form in a bright red 5mm berry which makes the bush most attractive, giving it a similar appearance to Holly (Ilex aquifolium) to which it is related.

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Yerba Mate
Yerba Mate

Medicinal Uses

Mate’ has been a traditional folk medicine in South America. The Indians claimed that this plant, with it’s varied uses, was a gift from a ‘white bearded God’ to give them health, happiness and sustain them in times of sadness, calling it the drink of the Gods.

In 1964 the Pasteur Institute researched the properties of yerbe mate. Their conclusion was ‘It is difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to mate’ in nutritional value. It has most all the vitamins necessary to sustain life’. Some references indicate that mate’ tea contains only about a third of the amount of caffeine as a cup of brewed coffee, while other references say the plant contains a xanthine alkaloid called mateine, which acts like caffeine but doesn’t have the caffeine side effects. Mate’ has the effect of stimulating the mind, increasing concentration and easing depressive moods, while not interfering with sleep like coffee may.

Students preparing for exams often find mate’ helpful as it is a powerful mental stimulant, aiding understanding, assisting clear thinking and recall, with the added benefit of being soothing to the nerves, providing a tonic to the body at a time when the immune system needs extra help. Although often used as a tonic tea by many people, and drunk regularly in the same manner as China tea, it is regarded as being devoid of any undesirable stimulant action. The herb tea has been found in research to help in delivery of oxygen to the heart and muscles, an action most beneficial to health. Body builders use mate’ to help tone muscles. Mate’ also has a beneficial action on the heart, toning the smooth muscles. Mate’ tea is a satisfying alternative to a calorie laden snack, by decreasing the sensation of hunger and cravings. The tea has thermogenic properties that assist in burning fat. Mate’ has been used for: diabetes, arthritis, gout, rheumatism, headaches, migraines, neuralgia, anxiety and stress, asthma, pre-menstrual discomfort, nerve pain, indigestion, toning the intestinal tract, urinary tract infection, kidney and bladder stones, irregular heart rhythm, obesity, fatigue as well as being used as a tonic for stamina and endurance building. Many traditional drinkers in south America claim they can do a hard day’s work with nothing but frequent cups of strong mate’ tea. Drink mate’ for its vitamin C antioxidant action as well as to relieve colds and flu.

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