Yerba mate tea is a healthy, nutrient-rich, and energizing drink. Many people in South America drink it every day and it is also becoming more popular all over the world.
Are you wondering if yerba mate tea has any side effects or negative impact on your health? I wrote this article to answer that particular question.
One thing that is already proven by research, is that mate tea has many benefits. I have put together a separate article that explains everything about the health benefits of yerba mate.
Next, let’s take a look at the possible side effects and health risks that yerba mate could have.
Pregnant Women and Breastfeeding
Is it safe to drink yerba mate tea while pregnant or breastfeeding?
There are claims that yerba mate could increase the risk of cancer, and this risk would be passed on from mother to the fetus. Another problem could be the relatively high caffeine content of yerba mate.
The risk of cancer is related to two things:
- The high temperature of yerba mate tea could cause esophageal cancer.
- The possible cancer-inducing compounds found in smoke-dried yerba mate.
The important questions here is, are these real risks and can they be avoided?
The risk of esophageal cancer can be avoided by not drinking too hot (more than 140 Fahrenheit or 60 Celsius) yerba mate.
The possible cancer-inducing compounds in mate tea would be coming from the smoke-drying process of yerba mate leaves. However, most of the mate producers don’t use smoke-drying, and if they do, it’s usually mentioned on the product label.
Unsmoked Yerba Mate
To be sure not to get any carcinogens, choose an unsmoked product like Mate Factor Organic Yerba Mate. You can read more about in this review article with my favorite yerba mate brands.
If you prefer tea bags, I recommend Ecoteas Organic Yerba Mate that is included in my guide with the best yerba mate tea bags.
In general, pregnant women should avoid consuming large amounts of caffeine. 300 mg is the maximum recommended amount per day. However, there is no evidence that even large amounts of yerba mate would cause any problems like miscarriage or low birth weight.
Some babies have shown signs of caffeine withdrawal after birth, if their mothers had been consuming very large amounts of caffeine daily, during the pregnancy. Also, if high amounts of caffeine are consumed during breastfeeding, it could cause stomach problems for the infant.
In conclusion, we can say that it is ok to consume yerba mate while pregnant or breastfeeding. Just remember the following:
- Don’t drink too much yerba mate daily and don’t make it too strong.
- When you drink yerba mate, make sure it’s not too hot (over 140 F or 60 C).
- Choose a product that has not been smoke-dried.
Heart, Blood Pressure and Liver
So if you are sensitive to stimulants, have heart problems or high blood pressure, or if you have any liver problems or use medication causing strain on your liver, consult your doctor before consuming any drinks with caffeine.
People with Other Medical Conditions
- Anxiety: It is possible that the caffeine in yerba mate will make the feeling of anxiety worse, especially if you are sensitive to stimulants.
- Diabetes: If you drink yerba mate regularly, it can actually reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. For most people caffeine does not have a significant effect on blood sugar levels. Again, large amounts of caffeine should be avoided if you are sensitive to it.
- Diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): Large amounts of caffeine can make stomach problems such as IBS, IBD, and diarrhea worse.
- Weak bones (osteoporosis): There is research suggesting that drinking yerba mate can increase the mineral density of bones in postmenopausal women. In turn, caffeine could have a contrary effect by flushing calcium out of the body. I think more research needs to be conducted before we can determine if yerba mate is beneficial for bone strength. At his point, if you are at risk of osteoporosis, I recommend that you avoid large amounts of caffeine and take extra calcium and vitamin D.
Alcoholics and Tobacco Smokers
As we know heavy smokers have a much higher risk of cancer, as do heavy drinkers. When you combine these two unhealthy habits you get an even higher risk of cancer.
What happens when you add yerba mate to this equation? Not much, I would say. But there is a possibility that it will further increase the risk of cancer.
Research indicates that heavy alcohol use, smoking, and drinking very hot drinks can have a synergic effect of increasing the risk of cancer significantly.
How to best avoid the risk of cancer?
Quit or reduce smoking and using alcohol. In addition, as mentioned before, don’t drink your yerba mate too hot and don’t consume smoke-dried yerba mate.
Consuming an Excessive Amount of Yerba Mate
If you consume an excessive amount of yerba mate tea, it is possible to get unpleasant side effects.
What is too much, really depends on a person. The point is, that too much caffeine during a short period of time will not make you feel good.
It can cause the following side effects:
- Nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting
- Nervousness and restlessness
- Heart palpitations / increased heart rate and gasping
Yerba Mate Tea Side Effects – Conclusion
As a conclusion, we can say that yerba mate tea is a healthy drink, and for most people, its health benefits greatly overcome the possible side effects.
However, I recommend avoiding excessive amounts of any drink with caffeine, including yerba mate tea.
Finally, if you have a medical condition mentioned above, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, be extra careful with your daily caffeine intake. If you drink yerba mate (or any other drink containing caffeine), try not to make it too strong and avoid drinking large amounts of it regularly.
Also, let your tea cool down a little bit before drinking it, and avoid using smoke-dried products if you are worried about the possible cancer risk.
Ready to try yerba mate?
You can find many yerba mate tea reviews on this site that will help you with choosing the right product. You can start by checking out my review of Guayaki Yerba Mate.
Yerba Mate Side Effects FAQ
Does yerba mate tea have any side effects?
In general, yerba mate tea is considered a healthy and safe drink. However, if you have a medical condition such as heart problem, hypertension, or digestive problem (e.g. IBS, acid reflux) it is recommended to consult your doctor before consuming any caffeinated beverages including mate tea. In addition, drinking too much yerba mate can cause negative effects such as nausea, diarrhea, palpitations, and nervousness.
Can I drink yerba mate tea during pregnancy?
It is ok to drink yerba mate during pregnancy, but I would recommend using unsmoked mate products, not drinking it too hot, and avoid consuming excessive amounts.
Is it safe to drink yerba mate while breastfeeding?
Drinking yerba mate while breastfeeding is generally considered safe. However, it is best not to drink too much or too strong mate tea. Also, to mitigate any risk of cancer, use unsmoked products, and let the tea cool down a bit before drinking it.
Can yerba mate cause diarrhea?
Drinking too much yerba mate tea can cause diarrhea for some people. It depends on your tolerance to caffeine and how sensitive your stomach is.
I hope this article provided you with the information you were looking for. If you have any questions or comments related to yerba mate side effects you can post them below.
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