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Yerba Maté Tea for Stronger Bones

Yerba Maté tea is made from the dried leaves of Ilex paraguariensis, an evergreen shrub that grows in Central and South America. This Latin tea is said to brim with antioxidants, and new evidence suggests that it can bolster bone strength in postmenopausal women. A study from Argentina published online on Sept. 3, 2011 in the journal Bone compared 146 postmenopausal women, some of whom who drank one liter of yerba mate tea daily for five years and some of whom didn’t. (The researchers excluded women whose health history put them at high risk for osteoporosis.) Results showed that the yerba maté drinkers had 9.7 percent higher bone density in their lumbar spine and 6.2 percent higher bone density in the area of the thigh just below the hip joint (this area is called the femoral neck) than the women who didn’t drink the tea. In another study women who drank Chinese tea also had higher bone density in these two sites compared to women nondrinkers of tea; the increases were 4.3 percent and 4.7 percent respectively.

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Reader Comments (8)

I am surprised this article on Yerba Mate is posted on Dr. Weil's blog. I've been looking up the safety of Yerba Mate and find reputable information that large amounts may cause cancer. However, this article indicates that some of the women in the study drank as much as "a liter a day for five years". As a postmenopausal woman diagnosed with osteopenia, I'd like to add to my current regimen of bone building habits, but Yerba Mate sounds downright dangerous!

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria L. H.

Agree with above post - I thought I'd read reports that research showed Yerba Mate was carcinogenic, and the only question was whether it was something native to the plant, or originating from the way it was prepared (which involves smoking, something I've been led to believe will always produce carcinogens, whether it is meats or fish or yerba mate that is being smoked). In fact I *vaguely* recall learning about YM's risks from Dr. Weil I thought ...

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Atlas

Get unsmoked mate' and drink to health!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterConor

I believe the opposite is true, Mate helps prevent cancer. Check out this study:

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAdrienne

5% to 7% is not significant. Plus, it has a stimulant effect like caffeine. My housemate drank a tall big mug or more per day, and is hunched over like a 90 year old and cannot sleep for the past 5 years. I am convinced it is from the tea. I am sure a small amount per day might be okay, but anything more than a small cup I think causes health issues.

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSelma

i drank yerba mate and suffered arrythmia due to the high amount of caffeine. This should be addressed. I drink regular coffee and it did not have the same effect.

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterberyl

I think Yerba Mate isn't only caffeine - there is a soup of different stimulating xanthines, theobromine and theophylline I think, caffeine being one of them... so the particular synergy of stimulants that is unique to tea, coffee ... and yerba mate can make 1 person more or less sensitive to a given "caffeine drink." Re the carcinogenic issue, you can google it and find sources as reputable as Lance Armstrong's Livestrong site and it's even in wikipedia, which discusses polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and esophageal cancer. It's not clear but totally straight out of PubMed research, these associations between YM and cancer - I don't understand how Dr. Weil could recommend this without acknowledging this association between YM and cancer and not weighing in on it.

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Atlas

Millions of people drink mate, and have been drinking it for centuries, in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil. I've been drinking it every day since I was in my teens. I'm now 60 and healthy as can be, playing soccer and tennis, active and excited about life. I think if anything, the mate has helped me. I love it, and I swear by it!!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMartin Ortner
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