Yerba Mate: How It Works, Weight Loss Benefits, Clinical Studies And Side Effects

Yerba mate plants

What is Yerba Mate?

Yerba Mate

Scientific name: Ilex paraguariensis

This is a plant which belongs to the family of holly trees. It is famous for ‘mate’ – a beverage which very popular in South America.

Function: Used as a beverage and for many health effects.

Similar fat-burning ingredients: Green tea, green coffee, guarana, etc.

Pronounced YERB-ah mah-TAY, this herb refers to the leaves of a holly tree species. Popular in South America, this herb has been used to prepare tea called ‘mate’ made with hot, not boiling water. This tea is also made with cold water and is sold commercially. Its taste is grassy and a bit bitter, similar to green tea. It contains caffeine as well as other chemicals which make it an effective stimulant.

Benefits of Yerba Mate for Weight Loss

Following effects of yerba mate contribute to weight loss:

  • Boosts metabolism
  • Contains nickel, potassium, manganese, iron, chromium, zinc, aluminium and copper. These minerals are known to be essential for good metabolism
  • Lowers cholesterol – both total and LDL
  • Delays gastric emptying
  • Reduces formation of fat cells
  • Reduces fat accumulation in the body
  • Increases the basal metabolic rate
  • Affects food intake which leads to higher expenditure of energy
  • Lowers glucose concentration

How Does It Work?

Yerba mate contains a chemical compound called as mateine which is similar to caffeine. This compound is responsible for increasing the metabolism and the expenditure of energy which leads to weight loss. Yerba mate has a calming and soothing effect on the part of brain which deals with strong emotions. These emotions can lead to stress eating. Thus, yerba mate is also effective in diminishing food cravings and helps in avoiding overeating. It also helps you to feel fuller, which makes you eat less food, decreasing your calorie intake.

Other Benefits

Yerba mate grown indoor

There are many benefits of yerba mate as follows:

  • It contains 196 active chemical compounds of which 144 are also present in green tea. These compounds are responsible for the strong anti-oxidizing effect of yerba mate
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Has anti-inflammatory properties
  • Provides minerals and vitamins which are needed by the human body for maintaining proper body function
  • Lowers the risk of heart disease
  • Increases alertness and concentration
  • Provides energy
  • Used to treat anxiety, depression, joint pain, headaches, UTI (urinary tract infection), heart disease
  • Used for the treatment of kidney and bladder stones
  • Used as a treatment for osteoporosis

Clinical Studies

According to a study (, yerba mate delays gastric emptying. 47 healthy but overweight patients entered into a randomized trial where they either received an herbal extract from yerba mate or a placebo. The study went over a period of 45 days. At the end of this period, the group receiving the herbal extract experienced significant weight loss.

Another study aimed to investigate the role of yerba mate in weight loss. The mice  were fed a high-fat diet. At the end of the study, it was found that yerba mate decreases the formation of new fat cells and reduced the accumulation of fat in the already present fat cells. Both these effects lead to less weight gain.

Side Effects

Yerba mate is safe to use for most people but it might cause the following mild side effects:

  • Hypertension
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Increased heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Upset stomach
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness

Following serious side effects may occur due to excess and prolonged use of yerba mate:

  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Heart conditions
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Diarrhoea
  • Osteoporosis
  • Hypertension
  • Glaucoma
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

A word of caution

For expecting and breast-feeding mothers, it is unsafe to use yerba mate because of lack of evidence supporting or denying the cancer causing effects of yerba mate. Also, people who are habitual smokers and alcohol drinkers are at an increased risk of cancer when they take yerba mate. Make it a point to consult your doctor before you start on this ingredient for losing weight.

ConclusionYerba mate dried up

The effects of yerba mate for weight loss are not very well documented, but initial research has shown promise in its usage as a weight loss supplement. Further research is required to fully understand the extent of side effects produced by this herbal potion. Even though little to no evidence exists to support the fact that yerba mate can promote cancer, proper caution needs to be exercised while starting on this ingredient. Never exceed the recommended dosage provided by the manufacturers and see your doctor before you bring such a change in your diet.