Mate is the national drink of Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina. This tea-like infusion was originally taken by the indians, native inhabitants of southern South America and then quickly adopted by the newly arrived Europeans. It consists of "yerba," which is a native plant leaves and flowers that are dried, served in a gourd (mate).The yerba is put inside the mate, and then hot water is normally poured over it. A metal straw called "bombilla," with a lower end full of small orifices, filters the water. This bitter drink takes some getting used to, but is has been linked to many health benefits, including helping the digestive process, it is full of antioxidant, and it supplies vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Mate is now a constant feature in the social life of the southern cone. It has small amounts of caffeine (technically, it is "mateine," a relative of the caffeine), so it is mildly stimulating, but without the jitters of coffee. It gives a feeling of calm awakening.
The Guarani tribe in the forests of Paraguay have known for centuries of the restorative and stimulative properties of a native herb called yerba mate (Ilex Paragueriensis). Legend has it that Pa’i Shume – a tall, fair-skinned, bearded god – was the one who taught them to harvest and prepare the leaves of the yerba mate tree for a tea to ensure health, vitality and longevity
Today yerba mate is grown in the iron-rich, acidic soil and semi-tropical climates of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, which employ 400,000 people to cultivate, prepare and distribute it to Latin America, the Middle East, North America and the European community, where it is known as the "Elixir of the Jesuits". The Pasteur Institute and the Paris Scientific society in 1964 were interested in this "Drink of the Gods" and did a thorough study of its properties. The findings were nothing short of astounding. The investigators concluded "it is difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to mate in nutritional value." Mate contains, these scientists said, "practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life." Yerba mate contains the vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B complex, carotene, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, biotin and vitamin C complex. In addition, it has 15 different amino acids, plus significant amounts of magnesium, calcium, iron, sodium, potassium, manganese, silicon, phosphates, zinc, niacin, sulphur, and chlorophyll, choline, and inositol.
Yerba mate supplies many of the nutrients required by the heart for growth and repair, plus it has a metabolic effect by increasing the supply of oxygen to the heart, especially during periods of stress or exercise. Research from the Paris Institute indicates LDL oxidation is inhibited by extracts of Ilex Paraguariensis. Incidence of arteriosclerosis is low in countries where yerba is consumed.
There is growing clinical evidence that yerba mate stimulates the adrenal glands to produce corticosteroids, thus stimulating metabolism in muscle cells. As a by-product of this, mate has been commonly observed to decrease the severity and incidence of allergy and hay fever. This adrenocortical action also helps balance blood glucose levels, so that hypoglycemic patients respond well to yerba mate.
As a whole-body tonic, yerba stimulates a weakened or depressed nervous system, and calms an overexcited one. When stress, whether from environmental factors, bad Nutrition or anxiety, throws our body’s systems out of balance, mate's bi-directional properties restore homeostasis in the body, while not over stimulating any one system. In addition, it is non-addictive, and will not cause jitters or any contra indicators.