Yerba Mate: Herb of the Week

This week’s #herboftheweek is yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis)! A caffeine-bearing plant from South America, this is a particular friend for us “not-a-morning-person” people.

Mindful Stimulation

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You might think mate is just a weak version of coffee – no way! It does have caffeine, though somewhat less than coffee, but it has so much more to offer.

This week I’m going to be sharing some of my favorite things about mate. Let’s start with the theobromine! That’s one of the antioxidants in chocolate, and it helps calm the mind – partly by relaxing the blood vessels. This helps “soften the edge” of the caffeine effects, or in other words, provides a grounded, calm, and focused mental stimulation… which might be just the boost you need in the morning.

Today, I’ve got mate with a bit of ginger and some tulsi – who says you have to drink it plain? (What’s in your teacup today?)

Antioxidant Artillery

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Do those berries look a little like holly to you? That’s because yerba mate is in the holly family! They’re cousins 🙂

Mate is chock full of antioxidants, so in addition to boosting your energy and focus, it’s boosting your immune function and heart health, too. There’s been a lot of scientific attention paid to the chlorogenic acid content specifically in regards to these actions, as it’s known to improve insulin sensitivity and thereby reduce risk of multiple pathologies – but it’s rarely just one constituent that functions alone. It’s the whole symphony of plant chemistry that really does the work.

A Healthy Hippocampus

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Yerba mate is one of the more studied herbs out there, and they’ve found that it’s got a significant ability to reduce cholesterol levels and improve all the factors around heart health.

I’m also particularly interested in a study that shows mate’s antioxidant actions working directly on the hippocampus – the part of the brain that helps us process experiences into memories. Tulsi is another plant that helps with this, and is of tremendous benefit for people feeling overwhelmed, people who have experienced trauma, and even just people having a bad day. Put maté and tulsi together and you get a powerhouse of stress-busting action!

PS: We have a full video + text herbal monograph on yerba mate (and 86 other herbs) in our Materia Medica course, which you can take stand-alone or as a component of our Family Herbalist program.
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