Ilex paraguariensis A.St.-Hil.

Last updated: 19 Dec 2016

Scientific Name

Ilex paraguariensis A.St.-Hil.


Ilex bonplandiana Münter [Unresolved], Ilex curitibensis Miers, Ilex domestica Reissek, Ilex domestica var. glabra Reissek, Ilex domestica var. pubescens Reissek, Ilex mate A.St.-Hil., Ilex paraguariensis var. ecutifolia Mart., Ilex paraguariensis var. angustifolia Reissek, Ilex paraguariensis f. confusa Loes., Ilex paraguariensis f. dasyprionata Loes., Ilex paraguariensis f. domestica (Reissek) Loes., Ilex paraguariensis var. euneura Loes., Ilex paraguariensis var. guaranina Loes., Ilex paraguariensis var. latifolia Reissek, Ilex paraguariensis f. latifolia (Reissek) Chodat, Ilex paraguariensis var. longifolia Reissek, Ilex paraguariensis f. microphylla Reissek, Ilex paraguariensis f. pavifolia Chodat, Ilex paraguariensis f. pubescens Loes., Ilex paraguariensis f. sorbilis (Reissek) Loes., Ilex paraguariensis var. ulei Loes., Ilex sorbilis Reissek, Ilex theaezans Bonpl. ex Miers, Ilex vestita Reissek [Unresolved]. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Paraguay tea [2], Brazilian tea [3]
Brazil Baguasu [3]
South America Arbol del mate, maté, té de los jesuitas, yerba matà, yerba mate [3].

Geographical Distributions

Ilex paraguariensis can be found in large shrub of South America. [2]

Botanical Description

I. paraguariensis is a member of Aquifoliacea family. It is an evergreen, dioecious shrub or tree, up to 18 m tall in the wild state, in cultivation pruned to a 3—6 m tall multi-stemmed and highly branched bush. [4]

The leaves are alternate, coriaceous; petiole 1 cm long; blade obovate, 10—12 cm x 5—6 cm, tapering towards the base, with serrate margin and obtuse apex, dark green and glabrous. [4]

The inflorescence is an axillary, corymboid fascicle with 3—11 male or 1—3 female flowers; flowers small, pedicellate, with 4-lobed persistent calyx and 4 white petals; 4 stamens in male flower; pistil in female flower superior, ovary 4-locular with 1—2 ovules per cell. [4]

The fruit is reddish to blackish, globular drupe, 0.5—0.8 cm in diameter, with 4 pyrenes, and each containing one seed. [4]

The seedling of I. paraguariensis is usually with epigeal germination. [4]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

Methanol extract of I. paraguariensis leaves was found to contain triterpene oligoglycosides namely mateglycosides A, B, and C. [5]

I. paraguariensis leaves were found to contain phenolic compounds. [6]

Aqueous extract of I. paraguriensis leaves was found to contain methylxanthinic alkaloids and phenolic compounds. [7]

I. paraguriensis was found to contain ursolic acid, [8] cinnamate esters, [9] purine alkaloids (e.g. caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline) [10].

Plant Part Used

Leaf. [2]

Traditional Use

I. paraguariensis has been used traditionally as a tonic beverage and as a stimulant in most regions of South and Central America. [11]

Preclinical Data


Antioxidant activity

I. paraguariensis demonstrated antioxidant activity [12][13] that is comparable that of green tea [14] when prepared in a water extract of either the green or roasted plant material [15]. In an animal model, researchers were able to demonstrate that mate tea is not genotoxic in liver, kidney and bladder cells and that the antioxidant activity may exhibit a protective effect on DNA [16]. In addition, an animal model demonstrated a reduction in lung inflammation of animals subjected to cigarette smoke [17].

Additional investigations into the antioxidant activity and drug potential of I. paraguariensis include pre-clinical work in Parkinson’s disease, [18] atherosclerosis, [19] nitrostrative stress, [20] myocardial dysfunction, [21] diabetic complications [22] and inhibition of low density lipoprotein oxidation [23][24].

Memory enhancing activity

The traditional use of mate teas for cognitive improvement has also been verified in animal studies. The acute administration of hydroalcoholic extract of I. paraguariensis differentially modulates short- and long-term learning and memory in rats via antagonist's action on adenosine receptors. [25]

Proteasome inhibiting activity

The natural product extracts were screened using ras-transformed endothelial cells (SVR cells) as a bioassay. It was found that extracts of I. paraguayensis inhibited the growth of these endothelial cells and cinnamate esters inhibited proteasome activity which are warranted for psoriasis and other inflammatory disorders. [26]

Anti-obesity activity

In an animal model, mice fed a high fat diet were administered either 1 g/kg or 2 g/kg of I. paraguariensis for sixteen weeks.  Results after eight weeks indicated a decrease in tryglicerides, low density lipoprotein and weight [27]. In addition to these findings, additional animal models have found that I. paraguariensis modulated the expression of genes related to obesity [28][29].


I. paraguariensis has been found to be cytotoxic and mutagenic and prolonged use can lead to an increased incident of head and neck cancers [30][31][32].

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

Weight loss activity

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. [33]

Antioxidant activity

Antioxidant 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. [34]


There have been numerous investigations into the possible link between consumption of I. paraguariensis and head and neck cancers [30][31]. 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 possibly due to the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [32][35]. Regardless of the nature of this link, studies have indicated that I. paraguariensis is cytotoxic and mutagenic [35]. In addition, a correlation between bladder cancer risk and I. paraguariensis consumption has been identified [36].

Interaction & Depletion

Interaction with drug

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 possibly due to the relationship between caffeine and estrogens [37][38][39].

Research has indicated that tannins, when taken in conjunction with meals, may decrease the bioavailability of minerals such as zinc, iron and copper [40].


No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Ilex paraguariensis A.St.-Hil.[homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Dec 19]. Available from: .
  2. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of Medicinal Plants Used in Malaysia. Volume 2. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR, 2002; p. 52.
  3. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms and etymology. Volume III E-L. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 552.
  4. Brotonegoro S, del Campo Gigena M, Giberti GC. Ilex paraguariensis A. St.-Hil. In: van der Vossen HAM, Wessel M, editors. Plant resources of South-East Asia No. 16: Stimulants. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 2000; p. 83-86.
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  6. Heck CI, Schmalko M, Gonzalez de Mejia E. Effect of growing and drying conditions on the phenolic composition of mate teas (Ilex paraguariensis). J Agric Food Chem. 2008;56(18):8394-8403.
  7. Strassmann BB, Vieira AR, Pedrotti EL, Morais HN, Dias PF, Maraschin M. Quantitation of methylxanthinic alkaloids and phenolic compounds in mate (Ilex paraguariensis) and their effects on blood vessel formation in chick embryos. J Agric Food Chem. 2008;56(18):8348-8353.
  8. Gnoatto SC, Dassonville-Klimpt A, Da Nascimento S, et al. Evaluation of ursolic acid isolated from Ilex paraguariensis and derivatives on aromatase inhibition. Eur J Med Chem. 2008;43(9):1865-1877.
  9. Arbiser JL, Li XC, Hossain CF, et al. Naturally occurring proteasome inhibitors from mate tea (Ilex paraguayensis) serve as models for topical proteasome inhibitors. J Invest Dermatol. 2005;125(2):207-212.
  10. Saldaña MD, Mohamed RS, Baer MG, Mazzafera P. Extraction of purine alkaloids from maté (Ilex paraguariensis) using supercritical CO2. J Agric Food Chem. 1999;47(9):3804-3808.
  11. Duke JA. Medicinal plants of Latin America. New York: Taylor and Francis, 2009; p. 413
  12. Actis-Goretta L, Mackenzie GG, Oteiza PI, Fraga CG. Comparative study on the antioxidant capacity of wines and other plant-derived beverages. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2002;957:279-283.
  13. Colpo G, Trevisol F, Teixeira AM, et al. Ilex paraguariensis has antioxidant potential and attenuates haloperidol-induced orofacial dyskinesia and memory dysfunction in rats. Neurotox Res. 2007;12(3):171-180.
  14. Lunceford N, Gugliucci A. Ilex paraguariensis extracts inhibit AGE formation. Ilex paraguariensis extracts inhibit AGE formation more efficiently than green tea. Fitoterapia. 2005;76(5):419-427.
  15. Bastos DH, Saldanha LA, Catharino RR, et al. Phenolic antioxidants identified by ESI-MS from Yerba maté (Ilex paraguariensis) and green tea (Camelia sinensis) extracts. Molecules. 2007;12(3):423-432.
  16. Miranda DD, Arçari DP, Pedrazzoli J Jr et al. Protective effects of mate tea (Ilex paraguariensis) on H2O2-induced DNA damage and DNA repair in mice. Mutagenesis. 2008;23(4):261-265.
  17. Lanzetti M, Bezerra FS, Romana-Souza B, et al. Mate tea reduced acute lung inflammation in mice exposed to cigarette smoke. Nutrition. 2008;24(4):375-381.
  18. Milioli EM, Cologni P, Santos CC, et al. Effect of acute administration of hydroalcohol extract of Ilex paraguariensis St Hilaire (Aquifoliaceae) in animal models of Parkinson's disease. Phytother Res. 2007;21(8):771-776.
  19. Mosimann AL, Wilhelm-Filho D, da Silva EL. Aqueous extract of Ilex paraguariensis attenuates the progression of atherosclerosis in cholesterol-fed rabbits. Biofactors. 2006;26(1):59-70.
  20. Bixby M, Spieler L, Menini T. Ilex paraguariensis extracts are potent inhibitors of nitrosative stress: A comparative study with green tea and wines using a protein nitration model and mammalian cell cytotoxicity. Life Sci. 2005;77(3):345-358.
  21. Schinella G, Fantinelli JC, Mosca SM. Cardioprotective effects of Ilex paraguariensis extract: Evidence for a nitric oxide-dependent mechanism. Clin Nutr. 2005;24(3):360-366.
  22. Gugliucci A, Menini T. The botanical extracts of Achyrocline satureoides and Ilex paraguariensis prevent methylglyoxal-induced inhibition of plasminogen and antithrombin III. Life Sci. 2002;72(3):279-292.
  23. Gugliucci A. Antioxidant effects of Ilex paraguariensis: Induction of decreased oxidability of human LDL in vivo. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1996;224(2):338-344.
  24. Gugliucci A, Stahl AJ. Low density lipoprotein oxidation is inhibited by extracts of Ilex paraguariensis. Biochem Mol Biol Int. 1995;35(1):47-56.
  25. Prediger RD, Fernandes MS, Rial D, et al. Effects of acute administration of the hydroalcoholic extract of mate tea leaves (Ilex paraguariensis) in animal models of learning and memory. J Ethnopharmacol. 2008;120(3):465-473.
  26. Arbiser JL, Li XC, Hossain CF, et al. Naturally occurring proteasome inhibitors from mate tea (Ilex paraguayensis) serve as models for topical proteasome inhibitors. J Invest Dermatol. 2005;125(2):207-212.
  27. Martins F, Noso TM, Porto VB, et al. Maté tea inhibits in vitro pancreatic lipase activity and has hypolipidemic effect on high-fat diet-induced obese mice. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010;18(1):42-47.
  28. Arçari DP, Bartchewsky W, Dos Santos TW, et al. Antiobesity effects of yerba maté extract (Ilex paraguariensis) in high-fat diet-induced obese mice. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 ;17(12):2127-2133.
  29. Pang J, Choi Y, Park T. Ilex paraguariensis extract ameliorates obesity induced by high-fat diet: Potential role of AMPK in the visceral adipose tissue. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2008;476(2):178-185.
  30. Wnuk M, Lewinska A, Oklejewicz B, Bugno M, Slota E, Bartosz G. Evaluation of the cyto- and genotoxic activity of yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) in human lymphocytes in vitro. Mutat Res. 2009;679(1-2):18-23.
  31. Loria D, Barrios E, Zanetti R. Cancer and yerba mate consumption: A review of possible associations. Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2009;25(6):530-535.
  32. Kamangar F, Schantz MM, Abnet CC, Faqundes RB, Dawsey SM. High levels of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in mate drinks. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008;17(5):1262-1268.
  33. Andersen T, Fogh J. Weight loss and delayed gastric emptying following a South American herbal preparation in overweight patients. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2001;14(3):243-250.
  34. Matsumoto RL, Bastos DH, Mendonca S, et al. Effects of mate tea (Ilex paraguariensis) ingestion on mRNA expression of antioxidant enzymes, lipid peroxidation, and total antioxidant Status in healthy young women. J Agric Food Chem.2009;57(5):1775-1780.
  35. Goldenberg D, Golz A, Joachims HZ. The beverage maté: A risk factor for cancer of the head and neck. Head Neck. 2003;25(7):595-601.
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