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MATE

Other Names:

Chimarrao, Green Mate, Hervea, Ilex, Ilex paraguariensis, Jesuit's Brazil Tea, Jesuit's Tea, Maté, Maté Folium, Paraguay Tea, St. Bartholemew's Tea, Thé de Saint Barthélémy, Thé des Jésuites, Thé du Brésil, Thé du Paraguay, Yerbamate, Yerba Mate...
See All Names

MATE Overview
MATE Uses
MATE Side Effects
MATE Interactions
MATE Dosing
MATE Overview Information

Mate is a plant. The leaves are used to make medicine.

Mate is used as a stimulant to relieve mental and physical tiredness (fatigue), as well as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). It is also used for heart-related complaints including heart failure, irregular heartbeat, and low blood pressure.

Some people use mate to improve mood and depression; to relieve headache and joint pains; to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs), and bladder and kidney stones; for weight loss; and as a laxative.

In foods, mate is used to make a tea-like beverage, known as maté or Yerba Maté, which is very popular in Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

How does it work?

Mate contains caffeine and other chemicals which stimulate the brain, heart, muscles lining blood vessels, and other parts of the body.

MATE Uses & Effectiveness What is this?

Insufficient Evidence for:

  • Obesity. Mate taken orally might cause weight loss when used in combination with guarana and damiana.
  • Osteoporosis. Drinking a traditional mate tea daily might reduce the rate of bone loss in postmenopausal women.
  • Constipation.
  • Depression.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs).
  • Heart conditions.
  • Kidney and bladder stones.
  • Mental and physical tiredness (fatigue).
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
  • Fluid retention.
  • Headaches.
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension).
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of mate for these uses.


MATE Side Effects & Safety

Mate is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people, when taken for short periods of time. It contains caffeine, which can cause some side effects such as inability to sleep (insomnia), nervousness and restlessness, stomach upset, nausea and vomiting, increased heart rate and breathing, high blood pressure, headache, ringing in the ears, irregular heartbeats, and other side effects.

When taken in large amounts or for long periods of time, mate is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. It increases the risk of mouth, esophageal, laryngeal, kidney, bladder, and lung cancer. This risk is especially high for people who smoke or drink alcohol.

When taken in very large amounts, mate is LIKELY UNSAFE, due to its caffeine content.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Children: Mate is POSSIBLY UNSAFE for use in children. Mate is linked with an increased risk of mouth cancer, esophageal cancer, laryngeal cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, and lung cancer.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Mate is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when used during pregnancy. One concern is that using mate seems to increase the risk of getting cancer. It’s not known whether that risk is transferred to the developing fetus. Another concern is the caffeine content of mate. Caffeine crosses the placenta and enters the fetus’ bloodstream, producing caffeine levels in the fetus that resemble the caffeine level in the mother. In general, mothers should avoid consuming more than 200 mg of caffeine daily; that’s about 2 cups of coffee or tea. Infants born to mothers who consume a lot of caffeine during pregnancy sometimes show symptoms of caffeine withdrawal after birth. High doses of caffeine have also been linked with miscarriage, premature delivery, and low birth weight. However, researchers studied mothers who drank mate tea during pregnancy and found no strong link between drinking mate and premature delivery or small birth weight. But this study has been criticized because it did not consider the amount of mate or caffeine used by the mothers; it looked only at how often they used mate.

Mate is also POSSIBLY UNSAFE during breast-feeding. It’s not known whether the cancer-causing chemicals in mate pass into breast milk, but that is a concern. The caffeine in mate is also a problem. It might cause irritability and increased bowel movements in nursing infants.

Alcoholism: Heavy alcohol use combined with long-term mate use increases the risk of cancer from 3-fold to 7-fold.

Anxiety disorders: The caffeine in mate might make anxiety disorders worse.

Bleeding disorders: Caffeine might slow clotting. As a result, there is a concern that the caffeine in mate might make bleeding disorders worse. But so far, this effect has not been reported in people.

Heart conditions: Caffeine in mate can cause irregular heartbeats in certain people. If you have a heart condition, discuss using mate with your healthcare provider.

Diabetes: Some research suggests that the caffeine in mate may affect the way people with diabetes process sugar and may complicate blood sugar control. There is also some interesting research that suggests caffeine may make the warning symptoms of low blood sugar in people with type 1 diabetes more noticeable. Some studies show that the symptoms of low blood sugar are more intense when they start in the absence of caffeine, but as low blood sugar continues, symptoms are greater with caffeine. This might increase the ability of people with diabetes to detect and treat low blood sugar. However, the downside is that caffeine might actually increase the number of low-sugar episodes. If you have diabetes, talk with your healthcare provider before using mate.

Diarrhea. Mate contains caffeine. The caffeine in mate, especially when taken in large amounts, can worsen diarrhea.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Mate contains caffeine. The caffeine in mate, especially when taken in large amounts, can worsen diarrhea and might worsen symptoms of IBS.

Glaucoma: Using mate increases the pressure inside the eye due to the caffeine it contains. The increase in pressure occurs within 30 minutes and lasts for at least 90 minutes. If you have glaucoma, discuss your use of mate with your healthcare provider.

High blood pressure: The caffeine in mate might increase blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. Consuming 250 mg of caffeine can increase blood pressure in healthy people, but this doesn't seem to happen in people who use caffeine all the time.

Weak bones (osteoporosis): Some researchers have found that postmenopausal women who drink a liter or more daily of a traditional South American mate tea have higher bone density. However, the caffeine in mate tends to flush calcium out of the body in the urine. This can contribute to weak bones. For this reason, many experts recommend that caffeine intake be limited to less than 300 mg per day (approximately 2-3 cups of mate). Taking extra calcium may help to make up for the calcium that is flushed out.

There are some women who are at special risk for weak bones. These women have an inherited condition that makes it hard for them to use vitamin D properly. Vitamin D works with calcium to build strong bones. These women should be especially careful to limit the amount of caffeine they get from mate as well as other sources.

Smoking: The risk of getting cancer is 3 to 7 times higher in people who smoke and use mate for long periods of time.

MATE Interactions What is this?

Major Interaction Do not take this combination

  • Amphetamines interacts with MATE

    Stimulant drugs such as amphetamines speed up the nervous system. By speeding up the nervous system, stimulant medications can make you feel jittery and increase your heart rate. The caffeine in mate might also speed up the nervous system. Taking mate along with stimulant drugs might cause serious problems including increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Avoid taking stimulant drugs along with mate.

  • Cocaine interacts with MATE

    Stimulant drugs such as cocaine speed up the nervous system. By speeding up the nervous system, stimulant medications can make you feel jittery and increase your heart rate. The caffeine in mate might also speed up the nervous system. Taking mate along with stimulant drugs might cause serious problems including increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Avoid taking stimulant drugs along with mate.

  • Ephedrine interacts with MATE

    Stimulant drugs speed up the nervous system. Caffeine (contained in mate) and ephedrine are both stimulant drugs. Taking caffeine along with ephedrine might cause too much stimulation and sometimes serious side effects and heart problems. Do not take caffeine-containing products and ephedrine at the same time.


Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination

  • Adenosine (Adenocard) interacts with MATE

    Mate contains caffeine. The caffeine in mate might block the affects of adenosine (Adenocard). Adenosine (Adenocard) is often used by doctors to do a test on the heart. This test is called a cardiac stress test. Stop consuming mate or other caffeine-containing products at least 24 hours before a cardiac stress test.

  • Antibiotics (Quinolone antibiotics) interacts with MATE

    The body breaks down caffeine to get rid of it. Some antibiotics might decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Taking these antibiotics along with mate can increase the risk of side effects including jitteriness, headache, increased heart rate, and other side effects.

    Some antibiotics that decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), enoxacin (Penetrex), norfloxacin (Chibroxin, Noroxin), sparfloxacin (Zagam), trovafloxacin (Trovan), and grepafloxacin (Raxar).

  • Cimetidine (Tagamet) interacts with MATE

    Mate contains caffeine. The body breaks down caffeine to get rid of it. Cimetidine (Tagamet) can decrease how quickly your body breaks down caffeine. Taking cimetidine (Tagamet) along with mate might increase the chance of caffeine side effects including jitteriness, headache, fast heartbeat, and others.

  • Clozapine (Clozaril) interacts with MATE

    The body breaks down clozapine (Clozaril) to get rid of it. The caffeine in mate seems to decrease how quickly the body breaks down clozapine (Clozaril). Taking mate along with clozapine (Clozaril) can increase the effects and side effects of clozapine (Clozaril).

  • Dipyridamole (Persantine) interacts with MATE

    Mate contains caffeine. The caffeine in mate might block the affects of dipyridamole (Persantine). Dipyridamole (Persantine) is often used by doctors to do a test on the heart. This test is called a cardiac stress test. Stop consuming mate or other caffeine-containing products at least 24 hours before a cardiac stress test.

  • Disulfiram (Antabuse) interacts with MATE

    The body breaks down caffeine to get rid of it. Disulfiram (Antabuse) can decrease how quickly the body gets rid of caffeine. Taking mate (which contains caffeine) along with disulfiram (Antabuse) might increase the effects and side effects of caffeine including jitteriness, hyperactivity, irritability, and others.

  • Estrogens interacts with MATE

    The body breaks down caffeine (contained in mate) to get rid of it. Estrogens can decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Decreasing the breakdown of caffeine can cause jitteriness, headache, fast heartbeat, and other side effects. If you take estrogens limit your caffeine intake.

    Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.

  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox) interacts with MATE

    The body breaks down the caffeine in mate to get rid of it. Fluvoxamine (Luvox) can decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Taking mate along with fluvoxamine (Luvox) might cause too much caffeine in the body, and increase the effects and side effects of mate.

  • Lithium interacts with MATE

    Your body naturally gets rid of lithium. The caffeine in mate can increase how quickly your body gets rid of lithium. If you take products that contain caffeine and you take lithium, stop taking caffeine products slowly. Stopping mate too quickly can increase the side effects of lithium.

  • Medications for depression (MAOIs) interacts with MATE

    The caffeine in mate can stimulate the body. Some medications used for depression can also stimulate the body. Drinking mate and taking some medications for depression might cause too much stimulation to the body and serious side effects including fast heartbeat, high blood pressure, nervousness, and others could occur.

    Some of these medications used for depression include phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and others.

  • Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with MATE

    Mate contains caffeine. Caffeine might slow blood clotting. Taking mate along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

    Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

  • Nicotine interacts with MATE

    Stimulant drugs such as nicotine speed up the nervous system. By speeding up the nervous system, stimulant medications can make you feel jittery and increase your heart rate. The caffeine in mate might also speed up the nervous system. Taking mate along with stimulant drugs might cause serious problems including increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Avoid taking stimulant drugs along with mate.

  • Pentobarbital (Nembutal) interacts with MATE

    The stimulant effects of the caffeine in mate can block the sleep-producing effects of pentobarbital.

  • Phenylpropanolamine interacts with MATE

    Mate contains caffeine. Caffeine can stimulate the body. Phenylpropanolamine can also stimulate the body. Taking mate and phenylpropanolamine together might cause too much stimulation and increase heartbeat and blood pressure and cause nervousness.

  • Riluzole (Rilutek) interacts with MATE

    The body breaks down riluzole (Rilutek) to get rid of it. Taking mate can decrease how fast the body breaks down riluzole (Rilutek) and increase the effects and side effects of riluzole.

  • Theophylline interacts with MATE

    Mate contains caffeine. Caffeine works similarly to theophylline. Caffeine can also decrease how quickly the body gets rid of theophylline. Taking mate along with theophylline might increase the effects and side effects of theophylline.

  • Verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan) interacts with MATE

    The body breaks down the caffeine in mate to get rid of it. Verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan) can decrease how quickly the body gets rid of caffeine. Drinking mate and taking verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan) can increase the risk of side effects for caffeine including jitteriness, headache, and an increased heartbeat.


Minor Interaction Be watchful with this combination

  • Alcohol interacts with MATE

    The body breaks down the caffeine in mate to get rid of it. Alcohol can decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Taking mate along with alcohol might cause too much caffeine in the bloodstream and caffeine side effects including jitteriness, headache, and fast heartbeat.

  • Birth control pills (Contraceptive drugs) interacts with MATE

    The body breaks down the caffeine in mate to get rid of it. Birth control pills can decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Taking mate along with birth control pills can cause jitteriness, headache, fast heartbeat, and other side effects.

    Some birth control pills include ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel (Triphasil), ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Ortho-Novum 1/35, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7), and others.

  • Fluconazole (Diflucan) interacts with MATE

    Mate contains caffeine. The body breaks down caffeine to get rid of it. Fluconazole (Diflucan) might decrease how quickly the body gets rid of caffeine. This could cause caffeine to stay in the body too long and increase the risk of side effects such as nervousness, anxiety, and insomnia.

  • Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with MATE

    Mate might increase blood sugar. Diabetes medications are used to lower blood sugar. By increasing blood sugar, mate might decrease the effectiveness of diabetes medications. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

    Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.

  • Mexiletine (Mexitil) interacts with MATE

    Mate contains caffeine. The body breaks down caffeine to get rid of it. Mexiletine (Mexitil) can decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Taking Mexiletine (Mexitil) along with mate might increase the caffeine effects and side effects of mate.

  • Terbinafine (Lamisil) interacts with MATE

    The body breaks down caffeine (contained in mate) to get rid of it. Terbinafine (Lamisil) can decrease how fast the body gets rid of caffeine and increase the risk of side effects including jitteriness, headache, increased heartbeat, and other effects.


MATE Dosing

The appropriate dose of mate depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for mate. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Conditions of Use and Important Information: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2009.

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