Mate - Very Useful Herb for Kidney Problems


Ilex paraguariensis Aquifoliaceae Also called Paraguay tea.

A South American evergreen, the mate tree grows wild near streams, but is cultivated on a large scale in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Mate tea, made by infusing the leaves, is regarded as the national drink throughout much if South America. The tree can reach a height if 10m, and bears oval, leathery leaves, similar to those if holly - but without thorns.

Parts used

  • Leaves
  • Where grown commercially, the mate tree is pruned low to make harvesting easier.
  • Leaves are picked from trees at least four years old, from December to August.
  • They are dried rapidly over a fire and chopped into small pieces.
  • The dried leaf, known as green mate, is used in drinks and infusions.


The chemical composition of mate is complex. Once dried, up to 10 per cent of the leaf is composed of phenol acids, and there are also saponins, flavonoids, a little resin and some traces of essential oil.


  • Excessive use of mate tea can overstimulate the nervous system.
  • Do not take if you have sleep problems.
  • Do not take mate if you suffer from heart or circulatory problems.
  • Use of mate should be avoided when pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Mate is on the list of banned stimulants for sports participants.

Recent South American studies suggest a possible link between drinking large amounts of mate tea and an increased risk of developing cancer of the lungs or oesophagus.
The main active compounds, however, are caffeine and theobromine, a diuretic and cardiac stimulant.

Medicinal uses

Because mate contains high levels of caffeine, a potent stimulant, it is used to combat fatigue. Mate is also a diuretic and is widely used for kidney problems. All the research conducted on caffeine shows that it increases alertness and intellectual capacity and generally stimulates the central nervous system. It has been shown that caffeine can raise the base metabolic rate by about 10 per cent. Together with the caffeine in mate, the theobromine, phenol acids, flavonoids and saponins all contribute to this energising effect.

Research published in Planta Medica in 1988 showed that mate can also suppress the appetite.That finding, and a 1995 study demonstrating the ability of mate infusions to break down fats in the blood, suggest that the herb may be useful for weight loss regimes.

Recent French research has indicated that mate may help to protect against hardening of the arteries, a cause of many major heart and circulatory disorders. It is also sometimes prescribed to alleviate the pain of tension headaches and rheumatism.


Mate is a tropical tree and needs to be grown indoors or in a heated greenhouse, as it will not survive temperatures below 7░e.


For internal use

TO TREAT lethargy, nervous exhaustion, kidney problems INFUSION Put 2-3g of dried leaves into 1 cup of boiling water. Leave to infuse for 5 minutes, then strain. Drink 1-3 cups a day, preferably before 5pm to avoid any difficulty in falling asleep at night.



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