Ilex paraguariensis A.St.-Hil.

 

Ilex paraguariensis A.St.-Hil. 

Synonyms

No documentation.

Vernacular Name

Yerbe Mate, Yerbamate, Paraguay Tea, South American Holly, Jesuit’s Tea, St. Bartholemew’s Tea, Caminu, Erva mate.

Description

Ilex paraguariensis plant is a shrub-like tree that can grow up to 16 m tall in its natural habitat and measuring 6 to 8 m in cultivated settings. It has evergreen leaves and very light green or whitish in colour flowers which produce a red fruit in the fall.

Origin / Habitat

As noted, this plant was originally found in Paraguay, then in various places throughout South America.  During the past I. paraguariensis 100 years, the availability of the plant as found in native habitats has decreased significantly.  I. paraguariensis is found both growing in the wild and cultivated on plantations in South America where it has become a strong export.  It is primarily cultivated in full sun, but can also thrive in shaded areas [1].

Chemical Constituents

Alkaloids including caffeine, theophylline theobromine, saponins, sterols, flavonoids,

Tannins, chlorogenic acid, cinnamate esters [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8].

Plant Part Used

Leaves and sometimes stems.

Traditional Use

I. paraguariensis has been used traditionally as a tonic beverage and as a stimulant in most regions of South and Central America.  Use of the beverage over long periods of time has been thought to increase the risk of esophageal cancer in Uraguay [9].  The traditional uses of this herb as a CNS stimulant, tonic, anti-asthmatic, vasodilator and choloretic have led to laboratory and clinical analysis of the herb as noted below.

Pharmacology

Pre-clinical

I. paraguariensis demonstrates anti-oxidant activity [10] [11] that is comparable that of green tea [12] when prepared in water extract of either the green or roasted plant material [13]. In an animal model, researchers were able to demonstrate that I. paraguariensis tea is not genotoxic in liver, kidney and bladder cells and that the anti-oxidant activity may exhibit a protective effect on DNA [14].  In addition, an animal model demonstrated a reduction in lung inflammation of animals subjected to cigarette smoke [15].

Additional investigations into the anti-oxidant activity and drug potential of I. paraguariensis include pre-clinical work in Parkinson’s disease [16] atherosclerosis [17], nitrostrative stress [18], myocardial dysfunction [19], diabetic complications [20], and inhibitioin of low density lipoprotein oxidation [21] [22]. The traditional use of I. paraguariensis teas for cognitive improvement has also been verified in animal studies [23].

Constituents of I. paraguariensis have demonstrated proteasome inhibiting activity in laboratory settings.  This activity which may have a role in the treatment of neoplastic disease has been attributed to the cinnamate esters [7].

I. paraguariensis has been the subject of study as having a potential role in treating obesity and managing weight which is one of the traditional uses of the beverage.  In an animal model, mice fed a high fat diet were administered either 1g/kg or 2g/kg of the herb for sixteen weeks.  Results after eight weeks indicated a decrease in tryglicerides, low density lipoprotein and weight [24]. In addition to these findings, additional animal models have found that I. paraguariensis modulated the expression of genes related to obesity [25] [26]. Despite these findings, review studies of the available literature have not found enough evidence to support I. paraguariensis as an anti-obesity agent for use in humans [27] [28].

As noted earlier, I. paraguariensis has been found to be cytotoxic and mutagenic and prolonged use can lead to an increased incident of head and neck cancers [29] [30] [31].

I. paraguariensis was included as one of three botanicals in a formula (including Guarana and Damiana) in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 47 healthy, overweight individuals.  Treatment of the test group using the herbal preparation resulted in delayed gastric emptying time, perceived fullness and subsequent weight loss.  Continued use, resulted in overall weight management for the participants [32].  In a separate clinical study of a smaller number of volunteers, I. paraguariensis demonstrated a small drop in respiratory quotient, but none of the herbs tested including  I. paraguariensis demonstrated properties that would result in weight loss [33].

Clinical

A human clinical study of over 500 individuals evaluated the relationship between several non-alcoholic beverages and bladder cancer.  I. paraguariensis was included as one of the beverages reviewed and a correlation was seen between consumption of I. paraguariensis tea and risk of bladder cancer [34].  These findings were repeated in a study that examined the risk of bladder cancer and use of I. paraguariensis tea in smokers and non-smokers.  The risk was higher in smokers who also used I. paraguariensis tea on a regular basis [35].

Anti-oxidant properties identified in pre-clinical models have been also demonstrated in a human clinical model of healthy non-smoking women.  Following supplementation with the tea, lipid peroxidation was lowered and total antioxidant status improved and was maintained [36].

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

Research has indicated that tannins, when taken in conjunction with meals, may decrease the bioavailability of minerals such as zinc, iron and copper [44].

I. paraguariensis may interfere with the intended effects of sleep aids and anti-anxiety medications [40].

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

The caffeine content of Mate, though less than that of coffee, can interfere with sleep, increase nervousness, caused restlessness, lead to irregular heartbeat and increase blood pressure.

 

Not to be used by those with hypertension, heart disease, anxiety disorders, thyroid disease, osteoporosis or kidney disease.

Due to the caffeine and theobromine content which are central nervous system stimulants, concurrent use of I. paraguariensis may increase the side effects of drugs and dietary supplements such as asthma medications [40], amphetamines, guarana, ephedra, cold medications, bitter orange, coffee, tea and colas.

There is some evidence that use of caffeine containing products may be associated with an interference of calcium absorption and subsequent bone loss in post-menopausal women [41] [42] possibly due to the relationship between caffeine and estrogen [43].

Pregnancy

Not to be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Age limitation

Not to be used with children.

 

Adverse reaction

There have been numerous investigations into the possible link between consumption of I. paraguariensis and head and neck cancers [29] [37]. The carcinogenic nature of I. paraguariensis is not fully understood, but reviews have repeatedly found links with development of cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus [38] possibly due to the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [39]. Regardless of the nature of this link, studies have indicated that I. paraguariensis is cytotoxic and mutagenic [29]. In addition, a correlation between bladder cancer risk and I. paraguariensis consumption has been identified.

Read More

  1) Western Herb

References

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