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What Are the Most Common Yerba Mate Side Effects?

Pregnant women may experience increased side effects from yerba mate.
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  • Written By: Nick Doniger
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2014
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Yerba mate is an herbal tea often taken for its numerous health benefits, though it comes with certain side effects. Among its benefits is an anti-carcinogenic quality, though some studies suggest that those who drink yerba mate are actually more prone to certain types of cancer. Due to its caffeine level, yerba mate side effects often include nervousness, frequent urination, high blood pressure, and other traits typical of those who drink large quantities of coffee. Other side effects, such as nausea, are also possible. Children, pregnant women, and those with diabetes may experience increased side effects.

Grown in South America, yerba mate boasts an unusually high caffeine content and stimulative quality not commonly found in herbal teas. Aside from helping wake up those who drink it, it may improve arthritis pain, digestive difficulty, headaches, weight management, liver health, and more. Yerba mate is rich in minerals, polyphenols, and antioxidants. As the product has not been reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there is a potential risk of its containing impurities or additives.

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The amount of caffeine found in a typical cup of yerba mate tea is comparable to that found in a small cup of coffee. Because of this, problems such as irritability, nervousness, and general anxiety associated with over-consumption of caffeine may occur among those who drink a large amount of yerba mate tea. Frequent urination is also possible, as caffeine has a diuretic quality. Since caffeine also raises blood pressure and increases heart rate, it may be advantageous for those who take blood pressure medication or have a history of heart attack and stroke to avoid taking yerba mate.

Some yerba mate side effects are not necessarily associated with its caffeine content. Nausea, vomiting, and headaches have been reported. Some serious side effects, such as fever, muscle spasms, change in heart rate, and yellowing of the eyes and skin have been reported as well, though these are less common.

Yerba mate side effects tend to be amplified when taken by children, due to their lower body mass and weight. As caffeine poses a risk to unborn babies, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid yerba mate. People with diabetes may experience yerba mate side effects more intensely as well, as certain forms of the prepared substance might contain sugars or alcohol.

Though yerba mate is believed to have anti-cancer qualities, there are some studies that suggest it also has certain carcinogenic effects. Among the more hazardous yerba mate side effects are its risk associated with contracting oral cancer, intestinal cancer, and esophageal cancer. Such studies, however, require further deliberation.

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