What are the Health Benefits of Yerba Mate?
Could they be any sexier?
Have you seen the world soccer players with gourds and thermoses and wondered what it was all about?
Well, lately, I have been getting calls about just that!
It took soccer to put yerba mate in social media. Picture after picture, you can see these buff guys pouring streams of water into their yerba mate gourds.
I love it! I couldn't be further from the soccer world (major theatre geek here... wouldn't step foot on a field) Still, I know that if I was sitting next any one of them, they would pour and pass it to me, because that is just what yerba mate is. It connects people.
More on that later!
Yerba Mate is an incredible herbal infusion that is enjoyed in much of South America. Though it has been around for centuries, it is still a bit of an exotic drink here in North America.
I grew up with yerba mate.
Yes, that's me as a baby drinking yerba mate from a typical gourd and bombilla.
Having been born in Argentina, it was a daily ritual that was always around. And because I was raised in Baltimore, MD I have the unique double experience of both the Argentine and the North American cultures. Which meant I had a ton of experience explaining the gourd and bombilla in my hands!
Yerba is my mainstay. I drink this every morning without fail. It gives me the caffeine I crave without feeling overly “ramped up.” It is also an alkalizing drink.
Yerba helps me with so many of my physical needs including digestion. Yes, that kind of digestion.
Yerba gives me prebiotics, and boosts my immunity. It seriously reduces my hunger and cravings for sweet and salty foods.
So, it is imperative I drink this daily. I take it if I am in a hotel, going to someone’s house or plan to be in the car most of the day.
What is Yerba Mate?
When I talk about yerba mate, I talk about it in two main categories. The first is the herb itself, with its rich history and explanation of health benefits.
The second category is the ritual of yerba mate, the items used, how it is prepared, and the different steps to its creation. There is a strong link between this ritual and mindfulness or self care.
I always like to point out that while the health benefits are the main reason people start to drink yerba, the ritual is what keeps people drinking yerba.
You can make yourself yerba with a mug and tea bag, but like the tip of an iceberg, It is nearly impossible to know the benefits of the whole ritual until you have done it a few times.
So my dear reader, if you are new to yerba mate, please do yourself a favor, please get a yerba mate set and make yourself a "real mate" to really understand what this is all about.
Yerba Mate - The Herb
Yerba is an herb that comes from the holy plant. It is actually a kind of bush like plant that is grown on farms. It is picked and dried to use as the infusion.
Sometimes the leaves are sun dried, sometimes they are smoked. Different blends have different combinations of the leaves, twigs and powder from drying the yerba. All of this changes the flavor and the kind of "accessories" you use for drinking yerba.
I won't go into all the history behind yerba mate for this blog. Just know that it all started with a beautiful myth (or was it truth?), spent time with missionaries, was taken from the indigenous people and then given back, was used by gauchos who were a bit constipated and moved through the cities.
You could write volumes on the history of yerba mate and I hope to do just that one day! Maybe even add in a documentary! That is how rich this herb is, that is how powerful and just believe me when I say there is magic.
Its invigorating properties make it one of the most loved beverages in South America. It gives energy without leaving you jittery.
One of my closest friends calls the physical feeling that yerba gives her "active relaxation."
There are really 1000's of valid reasons for picking yerba mate tea.
Digestive and Cardiovascular System
Yerba Mate really benefits digestion by increasing the production of bile and other stomach acids.
Yerba helps with keeping the intestines clear and reducing the bacteria in the stomach.
Many drink yerba mate after they eat hard-to-digest foods. Yerba helps with breaking these foods down. and reducing bloat.
The cardiovascular system also benefits from yerba mate. Yerba helps move fat and cholesterol through the bloodstream, which actually helps with the prevention of build up. That means less atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart problems.
Studies have shown that Yerba Mate tea has 90% more cancer prevention agents than green tea.
Yerba is extremely beneficial for the body. It has vital properties that work with the immune system and helps build resistance.
Want to help with detoxification? Drink yerba!
Those nutrients also help with aging. I know the women in my family swear that yerba mate helps their skin.
If you deal with low energy like I do, you will really feel amazing drinking yerba mate.
Yerba has caffeine, but unlike coffee, its caffeine content increases energy and the ability to concentrate and think clearly. Some find the jittery effects of coffee make that impossible.
The minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids and polyphenols in yerba have a balancing effect.
Gone are the unpleasant side effects that are often caused by caffeinated drinks (such as headaches, jitters, edginess, stomach pains and chills).
Yerba Mate may even help you reduce stress and insomnia.
Weight Control and Craving Reduction
There have been hundreds of research studies pointing to the link between yerba mate and weight.
Yerba Mate has chemical compounds that help carbohydrate metabolism to be used efficiently and effectively.
Yerba helps you get more energy from the food you eat.
If you exercise, yerba also reduces post-exercise recovery workout time. That's because yerba mate prevents lactic acid from building up in the muscles.
The body actually burns more calories in fat cells when you drink yerba regularly.
And, the cherry on top...
Yerba Mate slows digestion when your belly is full giving you more of a feeling of satiation.
So, through the synergy of a healthy diet, yerba mate and regular exercise, it is possible to burn more calories and control appetite. This was found to be true for the Guarani who were the indigenous people of South America.
Yerba Mate Stimulates Naturally
Do you need your caffeine in the morning? What if I told you that wasn't such a bad thing?
If you are in need of morning java, or need caffeine to complete a task, consider making that boost from yerba mate.
Yerba Mate is the perfect Coffee Substitute. It is the best form of a natural and herbal energizer.
If you need to be awake, concentrated and focused, but at the same time remain present and mindful, yerba is your answer.
You will not experience the jitters or upset stomach that coffee tends to give people.
is an extremely advantageous beverage for the body. It has vital properties that work on the resistant framework. That implies diminishing the indications of maturing, detoxifying the body and forestalling numerous illnesses.
Let's talk Self Care
With the stress and tensions of the past year and a half, many are talking about self care.
There have been drastic, negative effects of the pandemic and social isolation. The fallout has hit just about every part of our lives.
For now, let's just focus on how the effects have hit us individually.
Stress effects our nervous systems, as well as our bodies and souls. And, while most of us are able to "muster up" strength to carry on, the effects are there.
I heard a podcast today in which Glennon Doyle talks about our behaviors. She was referring to how "dis-regulated" she was feeling. She pointed out something that has really stuck with me. She said that her erratic behavior is a normal reaction to all the insanity out there.
And I just thought...yes, yes, yes.... This is a normal reaction. What is happening in the world is extreme.
And now, back to us.... it could mean that some of us could use a bit of extra love, cushion or self care. For me, that is yerba mate.
What is Self Care?
Here is an incredible point that I have known deep down, but when it was pointed out to me, I had an incredible "light bulb" moment.
As the tension rises in us, as we get strained, twisted, stiff and blind, our actions are quite different then when we are grounded and calm. I want to have a life where I am "choosing" my response.
When I have done otherwise, it has turned out baaaaaaaad.
When I feel tension rise in my body, and I start to feel powerless, if I am able to tune out the outside stimulus and tune into what is going on inside of me, I do much better.
If I can remember to give myself the space and attention, I can usually "right" myself back up.
To everyone, self care means something a little different, but we all know what it means to not have it.
For some, self care might mean a nap, for others it's a pint of ice cream. For Ms. Glennon Doyle, it's "Red Vines!"
For me, it means some moments being still and quiet with my yerba mate gourd. It is the most versatile and most healing. Throw in a facial or a massage and make that self care "extra!"
Whatever you think it is, I am sure you could use more right now! And, as we head into winter, and there is less and less sun, and more and more grey, I feel the need to "fill my tank."
Both inside and out, when I feel the calling, I am attempting to do this for myself, and I hope this is a good reminder!
Can We Stop Sugar Coating Things?
I do not want to anesthetize myself to what is going on. I am wanting to create a type of resilience.
I am not talking about what my friend at @samanthaquemby calls "Toxic Positivity." That is the fake positive feeling that we are seeing a lot of lately. It's "forcing" positive feelings without any real depth or soul behind it.
Nor am I seeking the kind of "spa" self-care that elicits images of a candle lit bubble bath or cucumber covered eyes. (Although don't get me wrong, I dig that sort of thing and do that too, only it's a shower because we don't have a bathtub, but I digress again!)
I am seeking something more profound and longer lasting. I need something easy that not only works in the moment, but that also has effects that work for hours.
So when I want to relax, and stop the world from buzzing, and my brain from overworking, I need to make myself tea. And, not just any tea, it has to be yerba mate tea.
As I watch the news and have the terrible feeling that this is going to be a "groundhog's year," I am trying to figure out ways to make this year not as horrible for myself as last year..
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