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is Yerba Mate bad for you?

Posted on June 14, 2018.  Last modified on July 07, 2021. Read Disclaimer.

yerba mate leaves treeWe often get asked, "are there Yerba Mate side effects" and "is yerba mate bad for me?"

While the potential health benefits are pretty clear... possible side effects of yerba mate appear to be debatable. (Personally, I drink yerba mate tea every day and feel very good about it.)

Potential Health Benefits of Yerba Mate tea

There are a number of published studies indicating that:

Possible Health Concerns of Yerba Mate tea

Yerba mate is generally considered to be very safe -- especially when consumed in moderation. In the areas of South America where yerba mate is consumed pretty much all day, every day, however, there tend to be higher risks for cancer of the head and neck.

Possible causes of concern may come from:

  • Consumption of extremely hot beverages and foods of any type. Tip: Don't add boiling water to yerba mate... around 170 degrees is ideal. After adding your hot water, stir or shake the contents a bit, add just a little cold water and then let the brew sit for a few minutes before drinking. Or, simply add ice or refrigerate before drinking to enjoy wonderful yerba mate iced tea.
  • Because yerba mate is traditionally smoke-dried over burning wood it can result in the generation of PAH compounds -- a known cancer-causing chemical. (This is that same carcinogen that occurs when grilling meat at high temperature.) Tip: Fortunately, unsmoked yerba mate contains far lower levels of PAH.
  • Consuming large amounts of caffeine can result in headaches, insomnia, rapid heart beat, dehydration and dependency.


At least one study concluded that "there is no sound population-based case-control study on mate consumption as a risk factor for cancer."

In terms of taste and health, the product we most highly recommend is Guayaki Brand San Mateo Yerba Mate. It is organic and one of the very few we've found that is air-dried (unsmoked) -- so it contains dramatically lower levels of PAH than what you get with traditionally processed yerba mate.

Have anything to add about yerba mate health benefits and/or concerns? We'd love to hear your feedback!

Our moderators are not doctors and can not provide medical advice.