Drinking Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) tea is popular in Argentina and other South American countries.
Researchers at the National University of Cuyo, in Mendoza, Argentina, measured effects of Yerba Mate as part of a program for osteoporosis prevention and treatment in postmenopausal women.
First, the details.
146 postmenopausal women who drank at least 1 liter of Yerba Mate tea daily for at least 4 years were compared to a matched group of women who did not drink Yerba Mate tea.
Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry at the lumbar spine (low back) and femoral neck (a common sight of hip fracture).
And, the results.
Yerba Mate vs control
Drinkers had a significant 10% higher lumbar spine BMD.
Drinkers also had a significant 6% higher femoral neck BMD.
After controlling for the effects of other factors, Yerba Mate drinking was the only factor, other than body mass index (BMI), which showed a significant positive correlation with BMD at the lumbar spine and femoral neck.
The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Results suggest a protective effect of chronic Yerba Mate consumption on bone.”
It’s an encouraging first of its kind study, which should be repeated to confirm the results. Also, maybe the sponsor will study the effects of Yerba Mate to prevent fractures.
Early studies concluded that the effect of habitual tea drinking on bone density was small and did not significantly alter the risk of fractures among the US postmenopausal population. More recently, tea drinking was associated with preservation of hip structure in elderly women, which supported the beneficial effects of tea consumption on the skeleton.
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.