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Yerba Mate Tea Side Effects – Are There Any?

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 negative side effects? Or is it safe to drink it while breastfeeding?

I wrote this article to answer all questions about the possible adverse effects of yerba mate tea.

Key takeaways related to Yerba Mate Side Effects:

  • Breastfeeding & Pregnancy: Generally considered safe but don’t drink too much daily and don’t make it too strong.
  • Cancer Risk: Choose unsmoked yerba mate and make sure it’s not too hot (over 140 F or 60 C) to avoid the risk of cancer.
  • Caffeine: Limit your intake of yerba mate to prevent restlessness, stomach upset, and sleep disturbances.

One thing that has already been proven by research, is that yerba 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.

Can I Drink Yerba Mate While Breastfeeding or Pregnant?

Consuming moderate amounts of yerba mate while breastfeeding or pregnant is generally considered safe.

Yerba mate tea side effects: pregnancy

However, you should note that the caffeine content of yerba mate is quite high. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests that pregnant women restrict their caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day.

Excessive caffeine during pregnancy is linked to an increased risk of miscarriages, preterm births, low birth weights, and developmental delays.

Caffeine does pass into breast milk, so nursing mothers should also be cautious. Babies have a reduced ability to metabolize caffeine, especially in the first few months, which might cause irritability or disturb their sleep.

Yerba Mate and Cancer Risk

Some studies have linked heavy, long-term consumption of traditionally prepared yerba mate at high temperatures to an increased risk of esophageal cancer.

The cancer risk of yerba mate tea is related to two things:

  • The high temperature of yerba mate tea could increase the risk of esophageal cancer.
  • Smoke-dried yerba mate may contain cancer-inducing compounds.

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 yerba mate tea would be coming from the smoke-drying process of yerba mate leaves. If you are worried about this, choose a yerba mate product that has not been smoke-dried.

Unsmoked Yerba Mate

To avoid carcinogens, choose an unsmoked product like Mate Factor Organic Yerba Mate. You can read more about this in my guide with the best yerba mate brands.

If you prefer tea bags, I recommend Ecoteas Organic Yerba Mate which is included in my guide with the best yerba mate tea bags.

Yerba Mate and Caffeine Side Effects

If you consume an excessive amount of yerba mate tea, it’s possible to get unpleasant side effects from the caffeine.

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.

High doses of caffeine can cause the following side effects:

  • Nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting
  • Nervousness and restlessness
  • Heart palpitations / increased heart rate and gasping

Also, the caffeine in yerba mate could possibly cause problems for people with heart problems or high blood pressure.

So if you are sensitive to stimulants, have heart problems or high blood pressure, consult your doctor before consuming yerba mate or any other drinks with caffeine.

People with other medical conditions:

However, there is also research suggesting that drinking yerba mate can increase the mineral density of bones in postmenopausal women.

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.

alcohol and smoking

So what happens when you add yerba mate to this equation?

Not much, I would say. However, there is a possibility that drinking hot, smoke-dried yerba mate tea 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.

Yerba Mate Tea Side Effects: Conclusion

Yerba mate tea is a healthy drink, and for most people, its health benefits greatly outweigh 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. Don’t make your yerba mate too strong and avoid drinking too much.

If you are worried about the possible cancer risk, let your tea cool down a little bit before drinking it, and avoid using smoke-dried products.

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 a 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 while breastfeeding or pregnant?

Drinking moderate amounts of yerba mate is typically considered safe while breastfeeding or pregnant. I recommend using unsmoked yerba mate products, not drinking it too hot, and avoiding consuming excessive amounts.

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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6 thoughts on “Yerba Mate Tea Side Effects – Are There Any?”

  1. Hi, there.

    Thank you for this informative post. I do love Yerba Mate tea, but unfortunately, I can only drink a small amount of it. Anything more than half a cup and I get an energy rush that doesn’t let me sleep. No kidding! My husband, though, he drinks it even before bedtime, and he says it’s a perfect sleeping aid, lol. Anyway, the health benefits of Yerba Mate tea are way greater than the side effects. I like to serve it as iced tea during the summer. Great refreshment!

    Than you for sharing this info with us.

    Sincerely,

    Alexandra

    Reply
    • Hi Alexandra! Thanks for your comment. I guess some people are very sensitive to caffeine. Well, at least if you need the energy to get your work done or to do some exercise, all you have to do is drink a small amount of yerba mate! I am more like your husband, I like to drink yerba mate from morning to evening, but I don’t have any trouble sleeping. I also love to make iced yerba mate when it’s hot!
      -Joonas

      Reply
  2. This post has so much helpful information!
    I really like to drink Yerba Mate and feel like it always gives me an extra energy boost.
    You have clearly done your research and this article has tons of useful information in regards to the possible side effects.
    After reading this article, I definitely will be more likely to drink a Yerba Mate because it is such a healthy option for getting an energy boost!

    Reply
    • Thanks for commenting Jesse! Yerba mate is healthy and excellent for getting more energy. And even there are no notable side effects, It’s still good to know about them.

      -Joonas

      Reply
  3. I love the ubiquitous “scientific” get-out-of-jail-free card these days of “it may…”. It either does or it does not, there is no “may”.
    The abuse of the word “tea” is extremely irritating. Tea is made from one plant, and only one plant, called Camellia sinensis. The word “tea” comes from that medicinal drink that originated in China over 2000 years ago.
    The correct terms for other herbal plant based drinks, such as Yerba etc, are “infusions” (scientific) or “brews” (colloquial).
    It is very odd that in a world so obsessed with education that so many people are illiterate or ignorant. The world is getting dumber by the minute. Do we also call coffee “tea” now ?
    I even found dried Dandelion “coffee” in the store ! They are not even remotely related outside of being plants. What’s next… labelling drinking chocolate as tea?
    Any scientist worth their salt will tell you why it’s a very bad idea not using the correct labels and terminology in a lab.

    Reply
    • Hi Jamie,

      Thank you for the feedback.

      I get your point and I’m aware that “real tea” is made with Camellia Sinensis.

      But have you considered that language is constantly evolving and there are different “types” of English language? For example, British English, American English, Australian English, and then countless slang versions of all of these. I used the title “Yerba Mate Tea Side Effects” simply because that’s what people seem to put in Google and I want them to find my article. Also, if you put the search phrase “yerba mate tea” into Google Scholar, you can find countless research articles that use this term.

      I am not a native English speaker but do appreciate using correct language and try to do it to my best ability. But sometimes I also prefer to write articles in a less informal way and use words or phrases that some might find annoying.

      Anyways, I hope that you found at least some useful information in my article in addition despite it being irritating.

      All the best,
      Joonas

      Reply

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