Yerba, or Ilex paraguariensis, is a plant related to holly. It is grown primarily in various South American countries, including Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil. Yerba mate tea is a popular beverage that contains a wide variety of amino acids, minerals, and vitamins vital to good health.
Its ability to boost energy makes it a popular ingredient in many commercially produced energy drinks. While it contains more caffeine than traditional teas, it has less caffeine than coffee. What makes this herb unique is that it has the ability to provide an energy boost without the jitters or nervousness associated with other caffeinated drinks.
The herb contains mateine, which is one of many chemical compounds classified as xanthines. Caffeine is another one of these compounds. Xanthines have the ability to relax smooth muscles. Mateine promotes dilation of the bronchi in the lungs, making it useful for helping individuals with asthma. It is a mild diuretic and relaxes peripheral blood vessels, which reduces blood pressure. Mateine is similar to caffeine in its chemical makeup but the binding at the molecular level is different. This is why it does not share the same negative side effects.
The native Guarani Indians in Argentina and Paraguay, use it to reduce stress, stimulate the mind, and eliminate insomnia. They believe it helps cleanse and detoxify the blood while boosting immunity and toning the nervous system. Other uses include delaying the natural aging process and even restoring the youthful color of hair.
This herb provides benefits to the digestive system. It softens the fecal mass to eliminate constipation and stimulates the intestines to promote normal movement during the digestive process. It also appears to have a healing effect on diseased or damaged tissues in the gastrointestinal tract.
Many people in Europe consume this tea to promote weight loss and to eliminate fatigue, rheumatic pain, and headaches. It is said to suppress appetite while at the same time, offering as much energy and vigor as a whole meal. Native South Americans in remote areas go through life drinking the tea and consuming just one small meal each day without starving. Many people in these areas have lifespans that exceed 100 years. This may be because it contains so many vitamins and minerals necessary to sustain life. In addition to providing vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, and C, it contains potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and 15 different amino acids.