Latin: Ilex paraguariensis
Parts Used: Leaves
Taste/Energetics: Slightly bitter, warming, drying
Properties: Stimulant, nootropic, nutritional tonic, digestive aid, antidepressant, immunostimulant, digestive aid, antiinflammatory, antioxidant
Actions: I’ll admit I have a strong crush on this plant. It is my favorite stimulant and I often drink it with a few other health giving herbs such as holy basil and bacopa that blend well with it. Mate (pronounced Ma-tay) has long been used by various peoples of South America for its stimulant properties. A cousin of the holly tree (Ilex aquifolium), mate has numerous benefits. Besides its stimulant properties due to its caffeine and theobromine constituents, mate is also a powerhouse of easily absorbable nutrients and vitamins and high levels of antioxidants. I also recommend getting our nutrients from food (as opposed to tablets and capsules) if possible and mate is one of the best ways to do this.
Like many caffeinated beverages, mate improves cognitive function such as memory, alertness and mood. There are a number of different varietals and distributors of mate and each varietal carries different levels of caffeine but generally mate is considered to be more caffeine rich than a cup of green tea but not as much as a cup of coffee. Of course this is dependent on the mate varietal and the level of dosage. For many, the stimulant effect tends to feel smoother than coffee with less of a crash feeling. However for some who are sensitive to caffeine, mate can cause increased anxiety and palpitations.
Dosage: Generally 1-2 tsp (1-4 grams) of herb per cup/pint of water.
Contraindications: Avoid if prone to anxiety, panic, insomnia. Avoid in pregnancy.