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Yerba mate (or yerba maté)
Ilex paraguariensis
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Aquifoliales
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Genus: Ilex
Species: I. paraguariensis
Binomial name
Ilex paraguariensis
A. St. Hil.

Yerba maté or yerba-mate (Br.) (Spanish: yerba mate, Portuguese: erva-mate), Ilex paraguariensis, is a species of holly (family Aquifoliaceae) native to subtropical South America in northeastern Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and southern Brazil.[1] It was first scientifically classified by Swiss botanist Moses Bertoni, who settled in Paraguay in 1895.

The yerba mate plant is a shrub or small tree growing up to 15 meters tall. The leaves are evergreen, 7–11 cm long and 3–5.5 cm wide, with a serrated margin. The flowers are small, greenish-white, with four petals. The fruit is a red drupe 4–6 mm in diameter.[2]

Contents

Infusion

Steaming yerba mate infusion in its customary gourd.

The infusion called mate is prepared by steeping dry leaves (and twigs) of yerba mate in hot water, rather than in boiling water like black tea. Drinking mate with friends from a shared hollow gourd (also called a guampa or mate in Spanish, or cabaça or cuia in Portuguese) with a metal straw (a bombilla in Spanish, bomba in Portuguese) is a common social practice in Argentina,[3][4] Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, eastern Bolivia and southern and western Brazil [5] and has been cultivated in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

The flavor of brewed yerba mate is strongly vegetal, herbal, and grassy, reminiscent of some varieties of green tea. Some consider the flavor to be very agreeable, but it is generally bitter if steeped in boiling water. (Using boiling water is not recommended; traditionally the water temperature is between 160-180 degrees Farenheit when steeping the leaves. The water should be steaming hot yet not quite boiling.) One can also purchase flavored mate, in which the yerba is blended with a herb (such as peppermint) or citrus rind.

In Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina, a toasted version of mate, known as mate cocido (Paraguay), chá mate (Brasil) or "mate tea", is sold in teabag and loose form, and served, sweetened, in specialized shops, either hot or iced with fruit juice or milk. An iced, sweetened version of toasted mate is sold as an uncarbonated soft drink, with or without fruit flavoring. The toasted variety of mate has less of a bitter flavor and more of a spicy fragrance. When shaken it becomes creamy (since the formed foam gets well mixed and lasts for some time), known as mate batido. It is more popular in the coastal cities of Brazil, as opposed to the far southern states where it is consumed in the traditional way (green, drunk with a silver straw from a shared gourd), and called "chimarrão".

Yerba mate.

Similarly, a form of mate is sold in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay in tea bags to be drunk in a similar way to tea. This is known in Spanish as mate cocido or cocido. In Argentina this is commonly drunk with breakfast or as part of merienda (roughly, afternoon tea), often with a selection of facturas (sweet pastries). It is also made by heating yerba in water and straining it as it cools.

In Paraguay, western Brazil (Mato Grosso do Sul and west of São Paulo) and the Litoral Argentino, yerba mate infusion is also drunk as a cold or iced beverage and called tereré or tererê (in Spanish and Portuguese, respectively). Usually sucked out of a horn cup called guampa with a bombilla. It could be prepared using cold or iced water (the most common way in Paraguay) or using cold or iced fruit juice (the most common way in Argentina). The "only water" version may be too bitter, but the one prepared using fruit juice is sweetened by the juice itself. Medicinal herbs, known as "yuyos", are mixed in a mortar and pestle and added to the water for taste or medicinal reasons. Tereré consumed in Paraguay may also be made as an infusion of yerba mate with grapefruit or lemon juice.

Nomenclature

Yerba mate growing in the wild.

The pronunciation of yerba mate in Spanish is [ˈʝerβa ˈmate]. The word hierba is Spanish for grass or herb; yerba is a variant spelling of it which is quite common in Argentina. Mate is from the Quechua mati, meaning "cup". "Yerba mate" is therefore literally the "cup herb."

The (Brazilian) Portuguese name is erva-mate [ˈɛrva ˈmati] (also pronounced [ˈɛrva ˈmate] in some regions) and is also used to prepare the drinks chimarrão (hot) or tereré (cold). While the tea is made with the toasted leaves, these drinks are made with green ones, and are very popular in the south of the country. The name given to the plant in Guaraní (Guarani, in Portuguese), language of the indigenous people who first cultivated and enjoyed yerba mate, is ka'a, which has the same meaning as yerba. "Congonha", in Portuguese, is derived from the Tupi expression for "erva mate", meaning something like "what keeps us alive".

Both the spellings "mate" and "maté" are used in English.[6][7][8][9][10] The acute accent on the final letter is likely added as a hypercorrection, and serves to indicates that the word and its pronunciation are distinct from the common English word "mate" /ˈmeɪt/, meaning a partner (US) or friend (UK, Aus, NZ). However, the Yerba Mate Association of the Americas states that it is always improper to accent the second syllable, since doing so confuses the word with an unrelated Spanish word for killing[11] ("Maté" literally means "(I) killed" in Spanish).

Cultivation

Plantation in Misiones, Argentina.

The plant is grown and processed mainly in South America, more specifically in Northern Argentina (Corrientes, Misiones), Paraguay, Uruguay and southern Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina Paraná and Mato Grosso do Sul). The Guaraní are reputed to be the first people who cultivated the plant; the first Europeans to do this were Jesuit missionaries, who spread the drinking habit as far as Ecuador and Southern Chile.[12]

When the yerba is harvested, the branches are dried sometimes with a wood fire, imparting a smoky flavor. Then the leaves and sometimes the twigs are broken up.

There are many brands and types of yerba, with and without twigs (con palo or sin palo), some with low powder content. Some types are less strong in flavor (suave, "mild") and there are blends flavored with mint, orange and grapefruit skin, etc.

The plant Ilex paraguariensis can vary in strength of the flavor, caffeine levels and other nutrients depending on whether it is a male or female plant[13]. Female plants tend to be milder in flavor, and lower in caffeine. They are also relatively scarce in the areas where yerba mate is planted and cultivated, not wild-harvested, compared to the male plants.[13]

Chemical composition and properties

Yerba mate with stems

Xanthines

Mate contains three xanthines: caffeine, theobromine and theophylline, the main xanthine being caffeine. Caffeine content varies between 0.7% and 1.7% of dry weight[14] (compared with 0.3–0.9% for tea leaves, 2.5-7.5% in guarana, and up to 3.2% for ground coffee)[15]; theobromine content varies from 0.3-0.9%; theophylline is present in small quantities, or can be completely absent.[16] A substance previously called "mateine" is a synonym for caffeine (like theine and guaranine)[17]

Studies of mate, though very limited, have shown preliminary evidence that the mate xanthine cocktail is different from other plants containing caffeine most significantly in its effects on muscle tissue, as opposed to those on the central nervous system, which are similar to those of other natural stimulants. The three xanthines present in mate have been shown to have a relaxing effect on smooth muscle tissue, and a stimulating effect on myocardial (heart) tissue.[18]

Mineral content

Mate also contains elements such as potassium, magnesium and manganese.[19]

Antiobesity properties

In mouse studies[20][21], ilex paraguensis tea has been shown to lessen the tendency towards obesity induced by a high-fat diet.

Cholesterol lowering properties

Consumption of yerba mate ( Ilex paraguariensis ) improves serum lipid parameters in healthy dyslipidemic subjects and provides an additional LDL-cholesterol reduction in individuals on statin therapy [22].

E-NTPDase activity

Research also shows that yerba maté preparations can alter the concentration of members of the ecto-nucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase (E-NTPDase) family, resulting in an elevated level of extracellular ATP, ADP, and AMP. This was found with chronic ingestion (15 days) of an aqueous yerba mate extract, and may {OR} lead to a novel mechanism for manipulation of vascular regenerative factors, i.e., treating heart disease.[23]

Antioxidant potential

In an investigation of yerba mate antioxidant activity, there was a correlation found between content of caffeoyl-derivatives and antioxidant capacity (AOC)[24].

Amongst a group of Ilex species, Ilex paraguariensis antioxidant activity was the highest[24].

Anti-Carcinogenic vs Carcinogenic potential

In vivo and in vitro studies are showing yerba mate to exhibit significant cancer-fighting activity. Researchers at the University of Illinois (2005) found yerba mate to be "rich in phenolic constituents" and to "inhibit oral cancer cell proliferation" while it promoted proliferation of oral cancer cell lines at certain concentrations[25].

This activity was due in part to inhibition of topoisomerase II activity in yeast[25].

Conversely, Yerba maté consumption has been associated with increased incidence of bladder, esophageal, oral, squamous cell of the head and neck, and lung cancer.[26][27][28][29][30][31] However, a case-control study[32] showed no increased incidence of bladder cancer in mate drinkers.

A study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer showed a limited correlation between oral cancer and the drinking of large quantities of hot maté. Smaller quantities (less than 1 liter daily) and warm rather than hot mate consumption were found to increase risk only slightly; alcohol and tobacco consumption had a synergistic effect on increasing oral, throat, and esophageal cancer. The increased risk, rather than stemming from the maté itself, could be credited to the high temperatures in which the mate is consumed in its most traditional way, the 'chimarrão'. The cellular damage caused by thermal stress could lead the esophagus and gastric epithelium to be metaplasic, adapting to the chronic injury. Then, mutations would lead to cellular displasia and to cancer.[33].Given the influence of the temperature of water, as well as the lack of complete adjustment for age, alcohol consumption and smoking, the study concludes that maté is "not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans".[34]

Researchers in Mississippi found that both cold and hot water extractions of yerba mate contained high levels (8.03 to 53.3 ng/g dry leaves) of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (i.e. Benzo[a]pyrene)[35]. However, these potential carcinogenic compounds originate from drying process of the maté leaves, which involves smoke from the burning of wood, rather from the mate itself. [36]

The Culture of Yerba Mate

The Rio de la Plata experience is not complete without daily servings of yerba mate. It is common for friends to convene to "matear" several times a week. In cold weather the beverage is served hot and in warm weather the hot water is often substituted for lemonade. Children often take yerba mate with lemonade or milk and honey as well.

As Americans often meet at a coffee shop, drinking mate is the impetus for gathering with friends in Argentina and Uruguay. Sharing mate is ritualistic and has its own set of rules. Usually one person, the host or whoever brought the mate, prepares the drink and refills the gourd with water.

The gourd is passed around, often in a circle, and each person finishes the gourd before giving it back to the brewer. The gourd (also called "mate") is passed in a clockwise order. Since mate can be re-brewed many times, the gourd is passed until the water runs out. When a person no longer wants to take mate, they say "gracias" to the brewer when returning the gourd to signify they don't want any more.

During the month of August, Paraguyans have a tradition of mixing maté with crushed leaves, stems, and flowers of the plant known as Agosto Poty[37] (“the flower of August”, groundsels or ragworts of the Senecio genus), which contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Adulterating maté in this fashion is toxic, as these alkaloids can cause rare condition of the liver, veno-occlusive disease, which produces liver failure due to progressive occlusion of the small venous channels in the liver. [38] One fatal case has been reported in a young British woman who consumed large quantities of adulterated maté tea from Paraguay.[39]

See also

References

  1. ^ World Conservation Monitoring Centre (1998). Ilex paraguariensis. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 9 May 2006.
  2. ^ Yerba mate — what? at Ushuaia.pl.
  3. ^ Yerba Mate: National Drink of Argentina?
  4. ^ Yerba mate in Argentina
  5. ^ Basic guide to yerba mate.
  6. ^ Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged, 2002, shows the main entry for the word as ma·té or ma·te. The explanatory material for main entries on page 14a, headed 1.71, says "When a main entry is followed by the word or and another spelling or form, the two spellings or forms are equal variants. Their order is usually alphabetical, and the first is no more to be preferred than the second..."
  7. ^ The New Oxford American Dictionary
  8. ^ The Oxford English Dictionary
  9. ^ American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
  10. ^ Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary
  11. ^ "FAQs: Pronunciation and Spelling". Yerba Mate Association of the Americas. http://www.yerbamateassociation.org/index.php?p=faq#101. Retrieved 2008-11-27. 
  12. ^ Ross W. Jamieson "The Essence of Commodification: Caffeine dependencies in the early modern world", Journal of Social History, Winter 2001 http://www.yerba-mate.com/yerba_mate_history.htm
  13. ^ a b Traditional versus Suave ("Mild) Yerba Mate
  14. ^ Dellacassa, Cesio et al. Departamento de Farmacognosia, Facultad de Química, Universidad de la República, Uruguay, Noviembre: 2007
  15. ^ http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/duke/chemical.pl?CAFFEINE
  16. ^ Vazquez, A, Moyna, P. Studies on mate drinking. J Ethnopharmacol 1986; 18:267-272
  17. ^ Does Yerba Mate Contain Caffeine or Mateine?
  18. ^ http://www.rain-tree.com/yerbamate.htm
  19. ^ Mundo Matero - Chemical Features
  20. ^ Martins F, Noso TM, Porto VB, Curiel A, Gambero A, Bastos DH, Ribeiro ML, Carvalho PD. Maté Tea Inhibits In Vitro Pancreatic Lipase Activity and Has Hypolipidemic Effect on High-fat Diet-induced Obese Mice: Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Jun 18.
  21. ^ Arçari DP, Bartchewsky W, Dos Santos TW, Oliveira KA, Funck A, Pedrazzoli J, de Souza MF, Saad MJ, Bastos DH, Gambero A, Carvalho PD, Ribeiro ML.Antiobesity Effects of yerba maté Extract (Ilex paraguariensis) in High-fat Diet-induced Obese Mice.Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 May 14
  22. ^ de Morais EC, Stefanuto A, Klein GA, Boaventura BC, de Andrade F, Wazlawik E, Di Pietro PF, Maraschin M, da Silva EL.J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Sep 23;57(18):8316-24.
  23. ^ Görgen M, Turatti K, Medeiros AR, et al. (February 2005). "Aqueous extract of Ilex paraguariensis decreases nucleotide hydrolysis in rat blood serum". J Ethnopharmacol 97 (1): 73–7. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2004.10.015. PMID 15652278. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T8D-4F320M5-2&_user=10&_coverDate=02%2F10%2F2005&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=826d9db861d7299fb15e668c9c666d03. 
  24. ^ a b http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S027153170080024X
  25. ^ a b http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf048158g
  26. ^ Bates MN, Hopenhayn C, Rey OA, Moore LE (February 2007). "Bladder cancer and maté consumption in Argentina: a case-control study". Cancer Lett. 246 (1-2): 268–73. doi:10.1016/j.canlet.2006.03.005. PMID 16616809. 
  27. ^ De Stefani E, Boffetta P, Deneo-Pellegrini H, et al. (2007). "Non-alcoholic beverages and risk of bladder cancer in Uruguay". BMC Cancer 7: 57. doi:10.1186/1471-2407-7-57. PMID 17394632. 
  28. ^ Goldenberg D, Lee J, Koch WM, et al. (December 2004). "Habitual risk factors for head and neck cancer". Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 131 (6): 986–93. doi:10.1016/j.otohns.2004.02.035. PMID 15577802. 
  29. ^ Sewram V, De Stefani E, Brennan P, Boffetta P (June 2003). "Mate consumption and the risk of squamous cell esophageal cancer in uruguay". Cancer Epidemiol. Biomarkers Prev. 12 (6): 508–13. PMID 12814995. http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=12814995. 
  30. ^ Goldenberg D, Golz A, Joachims HZ (July 2003). "The beverage mate: a risk factor for cancer of the head and neck". Head Neck 25 (7): 595–601. doi:10.1002/hed.10288. PMID 12808663. 
  31. ^ Pintos J, Franco EL, Oliveira BV, Kowalski LP, Curado MP, Dewar R (November 1994). "Mate, coffee, and tea consumption and risk of cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract in southern Brazil". Epidemiology 5 (6): 583–90. doi:10.1097/00001648-199411000-00005. PMID 7841239. .
  32. ^ Bates MN, Hopenhayn C, Rey OA, Moore LE.Bladder cancer and mate consumption in Argentina: a case-control study.Cancer Lett. 2007 Feb 8;246(1-2):268-73. Epub 2006 Apr 17
  33. ^ Sewram V, De Stefani E, Brennan P, Boffetta P.: Maté consumption and the risk of squamous cell esophageal cancer in uruguay.1: Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2003 Jun;12(6):508-13.
  34. ^ International Agency for Research on Cancer, Mate Research
  35. ^ http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/17/5/1262
  36. ^ http://www.matteleao.com/produtos/arquivos/Yerba%20mate%20Pharmacological%20Properties%20Research%20and%20Biotechnology.pdf
  37. ^ url=http://www.mec.gov.py/cmsmec/?attachment_id=20625
  38. ^ McGee, JO'D (1976). "A case of veno-occlusive disease of the liver in Britain associated with herbal tea consumption". J. Clin. Path 29: 788–94. doi:10.1136/jcp.29.9.788. PMID 977780. http://jcp.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/29/9/788. Retrieved 2007-11-05. 
  39. ^ url=http://www.drugs.com/npp/mat-eacute.html

Simple English

This article is about the plant, for the drink see mate (drink).
Simple English Wiktionary has the word meaning for:
Yerba mate
Conservation status
File:Status iucn2.
Near Threatened
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Aquifoliales
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Genus: Ilex
Species: I. paraguariensis
Binomial name
Ilex paraguariensis
A. St. Hil.

Yerba mate*, Ilex paraguariensis, is a species of holly (family Aquifoliaceae) native to subtropical South America. It grows in Argentina, southern Paraguay, western Uruguay and southern Brazil. [1]

The yerba mate plant is a shrub or small tree. It can grow up to 15 meters tall. The leaves are evergreen, 7–11 cm long and 3–5.5 cm wide. They have a serrated margin. The flowers are small, greenish-white, with four petals. The fruit is a red berry 4–6 mm diameter. [2]

Contents

Infusion

The infusion called mate is prepared by steeping dry leaves (and twigs) of yerba mate in hot water, rather than boiling water like black tea or coffee. It is slightly weaker than coffee and much gentler on the stomach. Drinking mate with friends from a shared hollow gourd (also called a mate in Spanish, or cabaça or cuia in Portuguese) with a metal straw (a bombilla in Spanish, bomba or canudo in Portuguese) is an extremely common social practice in Argentina, [3][4] Uruguay, Paraguay, southern Chile, eastern Bolivia and Brazil [5] and also Syria and Lebanon.

Brewed yerba tastes a lot like vegetables, herbs, and grass. It is similar to that of some varieties of green tea. Many consider the flavor to be very agreeable, but it is generally bitter if steeped in boiling water. It is therefore made using hot but not boiling water. Unlike most teas, it does not become bitter and astringent when steeped for extended periods, and the leaves may be infused several times. Additionally, one can purchase flavored mate in many varieties.

In Brazil, a toasted version of mate, known as chá mate or "mate tea", is sold in teabag and loose form, and served, sweetened, in specialized shops, either hot or iced with fruit juice or milk. An iced, sweetened version of toasted mate is sold as a soft drink, with or without fruit flavoring. The toasted variety of mate has less of a bitter flavor and more of a spicy fragrance. It is more popular in the coastal cities of Brazil, as opposed to the far southern states where it is consumed in the traditional way (green, drunk with a silver straw from a shared gourd).

Similarly, a form of mate is sold in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay in tea bags to be drunk in a similar way to tea. This is known in Spanish as mate cocido or cocido. In Argentina this is commonly drunk with breakfast or as part of merienda (roughly, afternoon tea), often with a selection of facturas (sweet pastries). It is also made by heating yerba in water and straining it as it cools.

Nomenclature

The pronunciation of yerba mate in standard Spanish is [ˈɟɛrβa ˈmate]. The Rioplatense dialect spoken in most of Argentina turns the first sound in yerba into a postalveolar fricative consonant, giving [ˈʃɛrβa] in regions closer to Buenos Aires, gradually blending into [ˈʒɛrβa] as one goes farther from the city, and eventually to [dʒɛrβa] around Mendoza. The word hierba is Spanish for grass or herb; yerba is a variant spelling of it which is quite common in Argentina. Mate is from the Quechua mati, meaning "cup". Yerba mate is therefore literally the "cup herb".

The (Brazilian) Portuguese name is erva mate [ˈɛrva ˈmati] (also pronounced as [ˈɛrva ˈmate] in some regions) and is also used to prepare the drinks chimarrão (hot) or tereré (cold). While the tea is made with the toasted leaves, these drinks are made with green ones, and are very popular in the south of the country. The name given to the plant in Guaraní, language of the indigenous people who first cultivated and enjoyed yerba mate, is ka'a, which has the same meaning as yerba.

In English-speaking countries, the spelling used is yerba maté (with an accented é)[6][7][8][9][10][11][12] —instead of yerba mate (without accent) as in Spanish— indicating that the pronunciation is not the same as the much more common English word "mate", by analogy with words of French origin such as café and other words whose é distinguishes their pronunciation from otherwise identically spelled English words, such as résumé and resume. Linguistic prescriptivists regard this usage as erroneous, a case of hypercorrection. Purely descriptive linguists regard this sort of usage as a natural evolution of the language. (See Linguistic prescription.)

Cultivation

The plant is grown mainly in South America, more specifically in Northern Argentina (Corrientes, Misiones), Paraguay, Uruguay and southern Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Paraná). The Guaraní are reputed to be the first people who cultivated the plant; the first Europeans to do this were Jesuit missionaries, who spread the drinking habit as far as Ecuador.[13]

When the yerba is harvested, the branches are dried sometimes with a wood fire, imparting a smoky flavor. Then the leaves and sometimes the twigs are broken up.

There are many brands and types of yerba, with and without twigs, some with low powder content. Some types are less strong in flavor (suave, "soft") and there are blends flavored with mint, orange and grapefruit skin, etc.

Chemical composition and properties

Mate contains xanthines, which are alkaloids in the same family as caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine, well-known stimulants also found in coffee and chocolate. Mate also contains elements such as potassium, magnesium and manganese. [14] Caffeine content varies between 0.3% and 1.7% of dry weight (compare this to 2.5–4.5% for tea leaves, and 1.5% for ground coffee).

Mate products are sometimes marketed as "caffeine-free" alternatives to coffee and tea, and said to have fewer negative effects. This is often based on a claim that the primary active xanthine in mate is "mateine", erroneously said to be a stereoisomer of caffeine (as it is not chemically possible for caffeine to have a stereoisomer). "Mateine" is an official synonym of caffeine in the chemical databases. [15]

Researchers at Florida International University in Miami have found that yerba mate does contain caffeine, but some people seem to tolerate a mate drink better than coffee or tea. This is expected since mate contains different chemicals (other than caffeine) from tea or coffee.

From reports of personal experience with mate, its physiological effects are similar to (yet distinct from) more widespread caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, or guarana drinks. Users report a mental state of wakefulness, focus and alertness reminiscent of most stimulants, but often remark on mate's unique lack of the negative effects typically created by other such compounds, such as anxiety, diarrhea, "jitteriness", and heart palpitations. (The laxative effect of coffee derives from a substance that surrounds the raw bean, not the caffeine itself.)

Reasons for mate's unique physiological attributes are beginning to emerge in scientific research. Studies of mate, though very limited, have shown preliminary evidence that the mate xanthine cocktail is different from other plants containing caffeine most significantly in its effects on muscle tissue, as opposed to those on the central nervous system, which are similar to those of other natural stimulants. Mate has been shown to have a relaxing effect on smooth muscle tissue, and a stimulating effect on myocardial (heart) tissue.[16]

Mate's negative effects are anecdotally claimed to be of a lesser degree than those of coffee, though no explanation for this is offered or even credibly postulated, except for its potential as a placebo effect. Many users report that drinking yerba mate does not prevent them from being able to fall asleep, as is often the case with some more common stimulating beverages, while still enhancing their energy and ability to remain awake at will. However, the net amount of caffeine in one preparation of yerba mate is typically quite high, in large part because the repeated filling of the mate with hot water is able to extract the highly-soluble xanthines extremely effectively. It is for this reason that one mate may be shared among several people and yet produce the desired stimulating effect in all of them.

In-vivo and in-vitro studies are showing yerba mate to exhibit significant cancer-fighting activity. Researchers at the University of Illinois (2005) found yerba mate to be "rich in phenolic constituents" and to "inhibit oral cancer cell proliferation". [17]

On the other hand, a study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer showed a limited correlation between oral cancer and the drinking of hot mate (no data were collected on drinkers of cold mate). Given the influence of the temperature of water, as well as the lack of complete adjustment for age, alcohol consumption and smoking, the study concludes that mate is "not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans". [18]

An August 11, 2005 United States patent application (documents #20050176777, #20030185908,[19] and #20020054926) cites yerba mate extract as an inhibitor of MAO activity; the maximal inhibition observed in vitro was 40–50%. A monoamine oxidase inhibitor is a type of antidepressant, so there is some data to suggest that yerba mate has a calming effect in this regard.

In addition, it has been noted by the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine that yerba mate can cause high blood pressure when used in conjunction with other MAO inhibitors (such as Nardil and Parnate). [20]

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