Monday, December 5, 2011

Yerba Mate and the Breast Feeding Mom

Photo credit: physics.ucsd.edu
I discovered Yerba Mate (Yair-ba Mah-tay), a tea that hails from the rain forest in South America in January. It was love at first sip. Yerba Mate is made from the stems and leaves of the Yerba Mate tree. This beverage provides both energy and nutrition. It also contains caffeine.

And yes, I am a breast feeding mom! After preliminary research online, I've discovered many sites (mainly medical) that advised against breast feeding and pregnant moms drinking this tea, as it "affects" the baby.



LiveStrong.com, by example has excessive warnings against breast feeding and pregnant moms drinking this beverage:

"When a woman drinks yerba mate during pregnancy, her baby may be negatively affected. Potential risks include birth defects, low birth weight and premature birth. Women who drank yerba mate during pregnancy also have given birth to babies who have showed symptoms of neonatal withdrawal syndrome, including excessive crying, irritability and hypertonia in the limbs. Drinking large amounts of yerba mate over time can also increase the risk for throat, esophageal or mouth cancer, even in individuals who are not pregnant, according to the Cleveland Clinic."

Birth defects? Premature birth? Yikes! Those are pretty darn serious risks from drinking a tea that grows naturally in a Rain forest! LiveStrong also goes on to say this...


"Women should also not drink yerba mate if they are breastfeeding. The yerba mate can pass through breast milk and may negatively affect a nursing baby. You should wait until your baby has completely weaned before resuming drinking yerba mate."

All of LiveStrong's references are based on medical research and "clinical" trials. However, I wasn't too quick to jump on the research bandwagon for several reasons of my own:
  • Doctors/Medical researches are generally not versed in nutrition. Yerba Mate is a (naturally) nutritious drink.
  • Yerba Mate is the South American drink. Just about everyone drinks it and a LOT of it. Yerba-Mate.com says they have a 92% household cosumption rate!
  • Personal testimony from South American moms who drank Yerba Mate while pregnant/breast feeding with NO ill effects to show for it.
I can personally say that I've been drinking Yerba Mate for months with NO ill effects as well. My health/energy has actually improved and again, no negative affects to show of at all. As a matter I've experienced more negative affects from one cup of brewed Chicory (The one time I didn't do research!) than all the months I've been drinking Yerba Mate. I ended up with a horrible tummy ache and baby girl had a rash. That was the last time I've ever had Chicory!


I found this article by NaturalNews.com VERY interesting...



Yerba Mate is packed with naturally-occurring nutrients and anti-oxidants and there are 196 volatile (or active) chemical compounds found in the Yerba Mate plant. Of those, 144 are also found in green tea. Yerba Mate contains 11 polyphenols. Polyphenols are a group of phytochemicals. Phytochemicals (phyto- meaning plant) are recently-discovered compounds that act as powerful antioxidants and are considered to exhibit anti-cancer effects in mammals by strengthening an organism`s natural defenses and protecting it against cellular destruction (i.e. lycopene in tomatoes, flavonoids in blueberries, and isoflavones in soy)

In 2005, researchers at the University of Illinois studied 25 different types of mate. They found the tea to contain "higher levels of antioxidants than green tea"... and, based on cell studies, "may help prevent oral cancer." Read More
Hmmm...conflicting information indeed.

Natural News goes on to share the nutritional content of Yerba Mate...

* Vitamins - A, C, E, B1, B2, Niacin (B3), B5, B Complex
* Minerals - Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Selenium, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus
* Additional Compounds - Fatty Acids, Chlorophyll, Flavonols, Polyphenols, Trace Minerals, Antioxidants, Pantothenic Acid and 15 Amino Acids.

According to Dr. Mowrey, Director of Mountainwest Institute of Herbal Sciences, one group of investigators from the Pasteur Institute and the Paris Scientific Society concluded that Yerba Mate contains "practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life". They focused especially on Pantothenic Acid, remarking that it is "rare to find a plant with so much of this significant and vital nutrient... It is indeed difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to Mate in nutritional value."
In addition, results from a study done by researchers at the University of Madrid assert a high content of mineral elements, especially K, Mg, and Mn, in Mate. They considered those findings "to be of great relevance" to the nutritional value of Mate infusions.
Could this be why many medical sites are so gung-ho against it? Even in the face of real-time, cultural (South America) evidence? Do these medical researches have connections to pharma companies, who would much rather you buy their drugs, than seek health given freely by the earth? Live Strong even advises against consistent consumption of the beverage by individuals who are NOT pregnant or nursing, citing throat and esophageal cancer risk. Hmmm....I wonder about South America's rate of throat cancer...

So the question becomes, how can something contain "practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life", yet be so risky as to result in birth defects? It's too contradictory for both "facts" to be true. You know, I would have a lot more respect for medical research if doctors were just as diligent about informing moms about the very real and documented risks that come with birth drugs and labor/pregnancy interventions. In addition to exercising a good amount of ethical behavior when it comes to their relationships with for-profit pharmaceutical companies. Our health care system and it's practices are questionable at best, and unethical at worst, so you'll forgive me if I second-guess medical research and look for second opinions. You know how the saying goes, knowledge is power. So, I'm powering myself up to a nice cup of Yerba Mate, breast feeding and all.

UPDATE: Yerba Mate` and the Breast Feeding Mom Update - October 2012

Sources:
http://yerbamatedrinker.com/
http://www.yerba-mate.com/yerbamate.htm
http://www.naturalnews.com/024273_yerba_mate_tea_health.html

Affiliate Link:
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*Disclaimer ~ This post is an opinion piece, and not designed to diagnose, cure or treat in any manner. Reader is advised to follow up any decisions with research. TheOliveParent is not an expert in this field. 

10 comments:

  1. So Delicious! Especially with a dab of virgin coconut oil! :)

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  2. Hey! awesome article. I drink yerba mate combined with green tea every morning, love the stuff. I use my French press to make it and sweeten it with stevia. I am highly sensitive to caffeine,but the natural ceffeine in this tea does not make me hyper at all.

    Nicole Weaver
    Trilingual Children's Author
    http://mysisterismybestfriend.blogspot.com

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  3. Yes! The caffeine in Yerba Mate is natural and does not make me jittery! I drink several cups a day w/o the negative side effects. I honestly believe that the negative side effects of caffeine is due the fact that it may be attributed to synthetic caffeine.

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  4. I have heard so much more about this recently! I just may have to give it a try. How do you drink it? Do you use a special straw?

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  5. Nope, the American way. I brewed tea bags until I tried another brand! Now I brew it loose in a tea ball. So delicious! You can read my review here:

    http://www.theoliveparent.com/2011/12/mate-factor-yerba-mate-review.html

    By the way, virgin coconut oil is very good with it! Healthy too :)

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  6. I read the same article from Live Strong and freaked out! My mom, who is a mother of six, told me she has drank mate through ALL of her pregnancys. All six of us were born perfectly normal, and very healthy!!! I dropped coffee as soon as I found out I was pregnant, and didn't want to give up my mate!!! I've been drinking it since I was a little girl!!! My mom assured me it's okay to drink it... and well, she is a mom of six, so I do trust her :)
    Ready to go grab my mate straw, mate, and turn on the stovetop! gulp gulp!!

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  7. I love Mate. I like to make it in a coffee pot. Have you ever tried the roasted Mate. It has more herbs in it . I think it has the Chickory in it. Was wondering if you have tried that and have done so while breastfeeding? If so, did you have same reaction you had when you drank the chikory?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Lisa! I'm still breastfeeding Baby Girl who is now 3 (36 months) AND drinking Yerba Mate! We are both fine! With none of the dire warnings to show for it :)

      That said, yes I do drink the roasted Mate (My fave!) with Chicory and have not experienced the symptoms I did when drinking a full cup of Chicory. What I've discovered is Chicory in single, large amounts definitely does not bode well with us, but small amounts with Yerba Mate has not been a problem at all. :) I can't speak to what Chicory will do for you specifically. My husband does drink cups of Chicory with no problems at all, that tells me everyone reacts to Chicory differently. Thanks for stopping past!

      Delete

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