yerba mate

Medically Reviewed on 4/24/2023

Generic Name: yerba mate

Brand Name: Ilex paraguariensis

Drug Class: Herbals

What is yerba mate, and what is it used for?

Yerba mate is a popular herbal drink prepared from the dried leaves of the shrub Ilex paraguariensis, native to South American countries including Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil. Yerba mate tea is commonly drunk in these countries, similar to tea or coffee, and is gaining wide popularity because of its purported health benefits. Yerba mate tea is used for many purposes including weight loss, fatigue, headache, and improving memory, thinking skills and athletic performance, however, there are no scientific studies to back these uses.

The medicinal benefits of yerba mate are believed to be from the chemicals it contains, which include purine alkaloids such as caffeine and theobromine, polyphenols such as phenolic acids and flavonoids, and terpenes such as saponins and carotenoids. In addition, yerba mate also is a source of nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. The primary effect is the stimulant effect of caffeine which may relieve fatigue and boost energy.

Some studies indicate that other effects of yerba mate may include antioxidant, anti-diabetic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, anti-cancer and pain-relieving properties. Yerba mate may help weight loss by reducing fat absorption in the intestines and by increasing metabolism, energy expenditure and fat oxidation in the liver, however, more scientific research is required to establish the efficacy of yerba mate for most of its uses.

Suggested uses of yerba mate include:


What are the side effects of yerba mate?

Common side effects of yerba mate include:

  • Excess stimulation
  • Insomnia
  • Upset stomach
  • Hypertension
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Inhibition of platelet aggregation
  • Increase in risk for esophageal and other cancers, with intake of large amounts

Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms or serious side effects while using this drug:

This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


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What are the dosages of yerba mate?

There are no established typical dosing guidelines for yerba mate.

Suggested dosing:

  • Dried leaves steeped in hot water for 10 minutes


Yerba mate overdose can cause adverse effects such as insomnia, increased heart rate and upset stomach, which should resolve with discontinuation of yerba mate. Prolonged intake of large amounts of yerba mate tea can increase the risk for certain types of cancer, particularly in people who smoke or drink alcohol.

What drugs interact with yerba mate?

Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.

The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.

It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have any questions about the medication.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • Yerba mate appears to increase the risk for cancer. It is not known if this risk is transferred to the fetus. Yerba mate also contains caffeine, large doses of which have been associated with miscarriage, premature delivery and low birth weight. Avoid taking yerba mate if you are pregnant.
  • It is not known if yerba mate is present in breastmilk. Avoid yerba mate if you are breastfeeding because of the potential risks to the breastfed infant from the caffeine and carcinogenic chemicals in yerba mate.
  • Do not take any herbal products, including yerba mate, without first checking with your healthcare provider, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What else should I know about yerba mate?

  • Yerba mate tea is likely safe for most adults in recommended dose for up to 12 weeks.
  • Use yerba mate exactly as per label instructions. Natural products are not necessarily safe always and following suggested dosing is important.
  • Check with your healthcare provider before taking any herbal supplement, including yerba mate, particularly if you have any health conditions or if you are on any regular medication.
  • Herbal products often contain many ingredients. Check labels for the components in the yerba mate product you choose.
  • Yerba mate is marketed as an herbal supplement and is not regulated by the FDA. Products may differ in formulations and strengths, and labels may not always match contents; exercise caution in choosing your product.
  • Store yerba mate supplements safely out of reach of children.
  • In case of overdose, seek medical help or contact Poison Control.


Yerba mate tea is used for many purposes including weight loss, fatigue, headache, and improving memory, thinking skills and athletic performance, however, there are no scientific studies to back these uses. Do not take yerba mate if you have high blood pressure (hypertension). Do not take yerba mate if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and do not give it to children. Common side effects of yerba mate include excess stimulation, insomnia, upset stomach, hypertension, increase in heart rate, inhibition of platelet aggregation, and increased risk for esophageal and other cancers with excessive use.

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Medically Reviewed on 4/24/2023