Slimming Down With Yerba Mate

A woman drinking mate.
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Yerba mate (Ilex paraguayenis) is a natural remedy said to act as a weight-loss aid. Long used in teas in South American countries such as Argentina and Brazil, extracts of the stems and leaves of this plant are also available in dietary supplement form. Dieters sometimes use yerba mate to rev up their metabolism and suppress their appetite.

Also thought to alleviate fatigue, improve mood, and treat common ailments like headache, yerba mate is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds such as quercetin.

Why Is Yerba Mate Sometimes Used as a Weight Loss Aid?

There are many theories as to how or why yerba mate may help support weight loss efforts. For example, it's thought that caffeine may play a key role in yerba mate's potentially weight-loss-promoting effects. Abundant in yerba mate, caffeine has been found to curb appetite and increase satiety (the feeling of fullness after eating) in a number of scientific studies. Caffeine is also known to increase thermogenesis, a biological process involved in burning calories.

Additionally, some research shows that yerba mate may help with weight loss by affecting the body's level of leptin, a hormone essential for hunger control.

The Science Behind Yerba Mate and Weight Loss

While there's currently a lack of large-scale clinical trials examining yerba mate's potential benefits as a weight loss aid, some small studies suggest that this remedy may offer certain effects that could help promote weight loss.

Among the clinical trials testing yerba mate's effects on weight control is a small study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics in 2001. For the study, 47 overweight people took either a placebo or combined yerba mate extract, guarana, and damiana before each main meal for 45 days.

Study results showed that use of the yerba-mate-based supplement induced significant weight loss. What's more, treatment with the yerba-mate-based supplement helped shorten the time it took for participants to feel full after eating (which, in turn, may help prevent overeating and related weight again).

There's also some evidence that yerba mate may help protect against certain health problems linked to obesity. For a report published in the journal Nutrients in 2015, for instance, investigators analyzed previously published research evaluating the impact of yerba mate on obesity and obesity-related inflammation.

In their review of a range of cellular studies and animal-based studies, the report's authors determined that yerba mate may help regulate the body's formation of fat cells. The review also found that yerba mate may affect certain disease-causing factors related to obesity, including insulin resistance.

Using Yerba Mate as a Weight Loss Aid?

Due to its caffeine content, yerba mate may trigger a number of caffeine-associated side effects, including:

Prolonged or excessive consumption of yerba mate is associated with an increased risk of various cancers such as mouth cancer, esophageal cancer and kidney cancer. Caffeine toxicity can occur at high doses. Also, discontinuing yerba mate supplements after regular use may result in caffeine withdrawal symptoms such as headache and dizziness.

Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can get further tips on using supplements here, but if you're considering using yerba mate, talk with your doctor first.

Alternatives to Yerba Mate for Weight Loss

Further research is needed before yerba mate can be recommended for weight loss.

Like yerba mate, green tea may aid in weight loss by taming appetite and increasing thermogenesis. 

Adding certain other natural remedies to your self-care regimen may also help control your weight. These remedies include capsaicin, resveratrol, psyllium, and herbs like ginger and glucomannan.

For further help in achieving and/or maintaining a healthy weight, consider using alternative therapies like acupuncture, yoga, and hypnosis.

Beyond Weight Loss: More Benefits of Yerba Mate

In addition to possibly promoting weight loss, yerba mate has been found to fight oxidative stress and enhance heart health in some scientific studies.


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