HomeHerb DatabaseYerba Mate` Monday, July 22, 2024  
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Yerba Mate`

  • Ilex paraguariensis L.
  • Holly family

Common Names

herbsParaguay tea

Parts Usually Used

All parts

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Yerba mate` is an evergreen shrub or small tree up to 20 feet high; its alternate, elliptic-obovate leaves have a narrowed base and a rounded or bluntly pointed tip; their margins are crenate-serrate. The axillary flowers are whitish and inconspicuous. The fruit is a rounded, reddish berry-like drupe up to 1/4 inch in diameter.

Where Found

Grows in southern Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. It grows wild in the river forests; it is also extensively cultivated in other areas of South America.

Medicinal Properties

Depurative, diuretic, stimulant

Biochemical Information

Chlorophyll, iron, trace minerals, calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and vitamins B5, C, and E

Legends, Myths and Stories

Mate` (pronounced mah-tay), the tea made from the plant, is the South American equivalent to coffee in the United States. Charles Darwin called it "the ideal stimulant". It is estimated that the South American inhabitants consume approximately 8 million pounds of yerba mate` each year. The herb is exported to the United States and other countries.

The tea as a beverage effects a surprising rejuvenation of the human organism. One drinking it, especially for the first time, feels a remarkable inflow of strength, energy, and cheerfulness, as a direct and almost immediate result.

The early Jesuit missionaries learned the use of this herb from the South American Indians and found the brew so refreshing and healthful that they risked their lives searching for the small trees in the dense jungles of Brazil. Later they brought the tree under cultivation near their missions and mate` became widely known as "Jesuit's tea" or "missionaries tea". It is said that the Jesuits added the word yerba (herb) to the Indian name mate`, which comes from a word meaning "drinking vessel" or "gourd".

In the book The Magic of Herbs in Daily Living by Richard Lucas, there is a story about a 75 year old widower, living with his son and his family, was slipping mentally. Grandpa could not remember their names; it was necessary to lead him to the bathroom, he couldn't find it by himself.

One day the son came across an article on yerba mate` and immediately bought a pound of the herb. Grandpa liked the tea, and a month later, having taken the tea in the meantime, the son heard grandpa get up early one morning. To the son's amazement, grandpa, all by himself, was just coming out of the bathroom. He shamed his son for staying in bed so late and stated that he guessed he would have to make his own tea that morning.

The family supplemented grandpa's diet with dolomite pills (2 tablets 3 times a day) plus lecithin and wheat germ oil. Three months later grandpa's memory was dramatically improved. He could easily remember all the names of his relatives and friends, and even that of the neighbor down the block. He was cheerful, energetic, and took an active and lively interest in the world around him.


For arthritis, headache, migraine, neuralgia, insomnia, hemorrhoids, fluid retention, obesity, fatigue, stress, constipation, allergies, and hay fever. Cleanses the blood, tones the nervous system, retards aging, stimulates the mental and physical energy, an excellent blood purifier, controls the appetite, stimulate production of cortisone, and is believed to enhance the healing powers of other herbs.

Its stimulant principle is caffeine, but it contains less than coffee or regular tea. Mate` may be the answer for the coffee addict who wants to get rid of his coffee nerves without breaking the habit.

Formulas or Dosages

To relieve constipation and allergy symptoms: use 2-3 tbsp. yerba mate` in 16 oz. hot water. Consume on an empty stomach.

Tea: use 1 tsp. to 1 cup boiling water. Honey or lemon may be added to taste. When iced, it makes a refreshing summer drink.

Nutrient Content

Chlorophyll, iron, trace minerals, calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and vitamins B5, C, and E (rich in vitamin C)

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