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JAMA 100 Years Ago
November 5, 2003


Author Affiliations

November 7, 1903

JAMA. 1903;XLI(19):1148.

JAMA. 2003;290(17):2340. doi:10.1001/jama.290.17.2340

Some months ago a request was made in the Journal of Tropical Medicine that some reader in South America give information in regard to maté or Paraguay tea. In response to this it publishes in its October number a communication from a South American resident who points out certain special advantages of this as a stimulant.

. . . The correspondent asserts that maté is far superior in its invigorating powers to tea, coffee or cocoa and that it fits one as well for mental as for physical work. It is prepared, as is tea, by pouring boiling water on the leaves, and it should be drunk immediately or sucked through a metal tube, the latter being the preferable way. The stimulating effect of three or four ounces will last for as many hours. The bitter taste is soon tolerated and even relished. The small amount of caffein as compared with tea or coffee is rather notable; less than one-half the amount in tea, and the lack of volatile oils which often disagree with digestion is another point in its favor. The correspondent thinks that from a hygienic point of view maté ought to be preferred to other beverages that contain caffein, as its stimulation is not at all debilitating. In only very rare instances has he ever seen it produce any untoward symptoms. Some very neurotic and neurasthenic individuals bear it badly and have their symptoms aggravated if they take it in excess. He admits that a maté habit may be acquired and may become persistent, though no very evil effects, he says, seem to follow. Taken cold, as is the habit with some of the laborers in South America, it seems to have a bad effect, but since they subsist almost entirely on it for days at a time it is not remarkable that they should be anemic and emaciated. They are, moreover, usually subjects of malaria, and it is claimed that taking cold maté in excess makes them more subject to the malarial infection.