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.
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
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:
- Anxiety: It is possible that the caffeine in yerba mate will make the feeling of anxiety worse, especially if you are sensitive to stimulants.
- IBS & IBD: Large amounts of caffeine can make stomach problems such as IBS, IBD, and diarrhea worse.
- Weak bones (osteoporosis): In turn, caffeine could have a negative effect on bone density by flushing calcium out of the body.
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.
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.