Yerba Mate (Ilex Paraguariensis) articles summary using NLP

The following summary was created using a google search for specific phrases and then performing natural language processing steps for sentence scoring. Yerba mate is an evergreen tree/shrub that grows in subtropical regions of South America. The leaves of the plant are used to make tea. Yerba mate tea contains caffeine and theobromine, which are known to affect the mood. I was interested in summarizing the existing articles in regards to research on this plant in psychiatry.

The first search phrase used was “yerba mate psychiatry depression research evidence“, and the number of collected articles for this phrase was 18. The text from all articles was combined, and relative word frequencies were calculated (after removing stop-words). These relative frequencies were then used to score each sentence. Sentence length distribution was checked, and the 90th percentile of 30 words was chosen to select sentences below the maximum length. Below are the 10 highest scoring sentences that summarize the text from the 18 articles.

We can infer from the summary that studies have been performed using the yerba mate extract on rats and tasks for chosen as proxies for the rats’ depression and anxiety levels. There are no mentions of human studies in the summary. Also the chosen sentences indicate that based on these studies, yerba mate has potential antidepressant activity, and it may improve memory as well. The results of the anxiety study were not mentioned and it’s not clear whether there were any side effects from yerba mate. These results are in line with descriptions of personal experiences of reddit users that I have reviewed, as many report better mood and improved focus after drinking yerba mate tea. Some users do report increased anxiety correlated with yerba mate consumption.

View abstract. J Agric.Food Chem. Vitamin C Levels Cerebral vitamin C (ascorbic acid (AA)) levels were determined as described by Jacques-Silva et al. Conclusion: In conclusion, the present study showed that Ilex paraguariensis presents an important effect on reducing immobility time on forced swimming test which could suggest an antidepressant-like effect of this extract. Despite previous some studies show the antidepressant-like activity of flavonoids [31, 32] which are present in the extract of I. paraguariensis, any study has evaluated the possible antidepressant-like activity of it. The presence of nine antioxidants compounds was investigated, namely, gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, catechin, quercetin, rutin, kaempferol, caffeine, and theobromine. Abstract In this study, we investigated the possible antidepressant-like effect of I. paraguariensis in rats. Another study showed that an infusion of I. paraguariensis can improve the memory of rats treated with haloperidol and this effect was related to an indirect modulation of oxidative stress . In addition to flavonoids as quercetin and rutin and phenolic compounds as chlorogenic and caffeic acids, yerba mate is also rich in caffeine and saponins . After four weeks, behavioral analysis of locomotor activity and anxiety was evaluated in animals receiving water (n = 11) or I. paraguariensis (n = 9). In the same way, we evaluated if the presence of stimulants compounds like caffeine and theobromine in the extract of I. paraguariensis could cause anxiety. In the present study, we evaluated the possible antidepressant-like effect of I. paraguariensis by using forced swimming test (FST) in rats. Forced Swimming Test This experiment was performed using the FST according to the method previously published by Porsolt et al. In this context, Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) is a beverage commonly consumed in South America especially in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay. I. paraguariensis reduced the immobility time on forced swimming test without significant changes in locomotor activity in the open field test.

I also tried several other search phrases, such as “yerba mate mood anxiety evidence” and “yerba mate side effects evidence“. In total of 17 articles were collected for the first query and 19 articles for the second query. The summaries are presented below. There was nothing in the summary directly discussing mood or anxiety, but there are mentions of neuroprotective effects and antioxidant effects. We can also learn that a cup of yerba mate tea has similar caffeine content as a cup of coffee, and that drinking yerba mate is not recommended while pregnant or breastfeeding. As in the previous summary, no human trials were mentioned, so it seems that all the summarized studies were performed on rats. The side effects query summary mentions the risk of transferring the caffeine from the tea to the fetus when pregnant, as well as a link to cancer for those who drink both alcohol and yerba mate. It also mentions and anxiety is a side effect of the tea.

Query 1:
View abstract. J Agric.Food Chem. On the other hand, studies conducted on an animal model showed chemopreventive effects of both pure mate saponin fraction and Yerba Mate tea in chemically induced colitis in rats. Yerba Mate Nutrition Facts The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one cup (12g) of a branded yerba mate beverage (Mate Revolution) that lists just organic yerba mate as an ingredient. Researchers found that steeping yerba mate (such as in yerba mate tea) may increase the level of absorption. Yerba mate beverages are not recommended for children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Chlorogenic acid and theobromine tested individually also had neuroprotective effects, but slightly weaker than Yerba Mate extract as a whole, but stronger than known neuroprotective compounds, such as caffeine [ 83 ]. The caffeine content in a cup (about 150 mL) of Yerba Mate tea is comparable to that in a cup of coffee and is about 80 mg [ 1 , 11 , 20 ]. In aqueous and alcoholic extracts from green and roasted Yerba Mate, the presence of chlorogenic acid (caffeoylquinic acid), caffeic acid, quinic acid, dicaffeoylquinic acid, and feruloylquinic acid was confirmed. After consumption of Yerba Mate tea, antioxidant compounds are absorbed and appear in the circulating plasma where they exert antioxidant effects [ 55 ]. According to the cited studies, Yerba Mate tea consumption attenuates oxidative stress in patients with type 2 diabetes, which may prevent its complications.

Query 2:
View abstract. J Agric.Food Chem. Because yerba mate has a high concentration of caffeine, drinking mate tea while pregnant can increase the risk of transferring caffeine to the fetus. J Ethnopharmacol. South Med J 1988;81:1092-4.. View abstract. J Am Coll Nutr 2000;19:591-600.. View abstract. Am J Med 2005;118:998-1003.. View abstract. J Psychosom Res 2003;54:191-8.. View abstract. Yerba mate consumed by those who drink alcohol is linked to a higher risk of developing cancer. Anxiety and nervousness are a side effect of excessive yerba mate tea consumption.

Caffeine experimentation

The take on caffeine is that it’s bad for anxiety and intrusive thoughts. Yet there is research indicating that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of depression. On the other hand caffeine could contribute to a panic attack? Evidence is therefore inconclusive – should you consume caffeine if you have mental problems, and how much?

I know there are diets such as the autoimmune protocol diet (AIP) that eliminate coffee, but I have not found much evidence contraindicating coffee consumption. AIP diet includes eliminating a lot of food groups, including nuts and coffee, but Harvard Health Publishing actually states and nuts and coffee are anti-inflammatory foods. I will trust Harvard on that (as the AIP diet blogs don’t provide any actual evidence that coffee and nuts are inflammatory). From Harvard Health – “studies have also associated nuts with reduced markers of inflammation and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Coffee, which contains polyphenols and other anti-inflammatory compounds, may protect against inflammation, as well.” So here we go – one point for coffee.

The question is though – perhaps coffee drinking in the long-term reduces some inflammation, but what if in the short-run, it increases anxiety in a few hours. Is it really worth it? And does it actually increase anxiety? What do we know so far about what coffee does to the brain? “By blocking adenosine, caffeine actually increases activity in the brain and the release of other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine. This reduces tiredness and makes us feel more alert. There are numerous studies showing that caffeine can lead to a short-term boost in brain function, including improved mood, reaction time and general cognitive function.” “Caffeine helps the brain release dopamine into the prefrontal cortex, a brain area important for mood regulation. Caffeine may also help storage of dopamine in the amygdala, another part of the brain important for anxiety regulation.

One recent study with some mice (don’t really know if that is applicable to humans), found that acute caffeine administration also reduced anxiety-related behaviors in mice without significantly altering locomotor activity. I think the researchers had only 12 mice, I guess they weren’t able to get a grant to afford more, so I wouldn’t take the study very seriously.

I have consumed caffeine since childhood, since in Russia black tea is a very common drink.  Coffee I started consuming regularly later on, when I was a teenager. I did quit coffee in 2016 as I was hoping that would help with panic attacks and also I started the AIP diet which eliminates coffee. Later on, in summer of 2017, I did go caffeine free for more than a week, but I noticed that my obsessive thoughts and aggressiveness were only exacerbated. I continued to consume black tea and this week I decided to try and  reintroduce coffee.

Caffeine is the quintessential mimic of a neurochemical called adenosine. While you’re awake, the neurons in your brain fire away and produce a compound called adenosine as a byproduct. Adenosine is constantly monitored by your nervous system through receptors. In the brain adenosine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This means, adenosine can act as a central nervous system depressant. In normal conditions, it promotes sleep and suppresses arousal. When awake the levels of adenosine in the brain rise each hour. Typically, when adenosine levels drop and hit a certain low level in your spinal cord and brain, your body will signal to you to start relaxing to prepare for sleep. Caffeine mimics adenosine’s shape and size, and enter the receptors without activating them. The receptors are then effectively blocked by caffeine (in clinical terms, caffeine is an antagonist of the A1 adenosine receptor). By blocking the receptors caffeine disrupts the nervous system’s monitoring of the adenosine tab. The neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamate, the brain’s own home-grown stimulants, are freer to do their stimulating work with the adenosine tab on hold. When a substantial amount of caffeine is ingested—such as the typical 100 to 200 milligrams from a strong, eight-ounce cup of coffee, caffeine tricks your body into thinking that it’s not yet time for sleep by acting like adenosine. Generally, caffeine lasts about five to six hours in the body before wearing off.

Research on depression, anxiety, and caffeine is still in its early stages. One study from the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease links moderate caffeine intake (fewer than 6 cups of coffee each day) to a lower risk of suicide. Conversely, in rare cases high doses of caffeine can induce psychotic and manic symptoms, and more commonly, anxiety. Patients with panic disorder and performance social anxiety disorder seem to be particularly sensitive to the anxiogenic effects of caffeine, whereas preliminary evidence suggest that it may be effective for some patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder. In a small study, seven of twelve patients with OCD saw “immediate improvement” on 300 milligrams of coffee daily. The author suggests that caffeine may work better in one concentrated dose each morning than spaced out throughout the day, and reminds us that caffeine remains a “well-known anxiety producer in many people.”

If all of this research seems a bit contradictory, it is. Like almost anything in science, there’s no conclusive verdict about coffee.

Since my coffee reintroduction experiment starting this Monday, so far mu experiences are more positive than negative. During these past four days, it seems that I had a reduction in obsessive and anxious thoughts. A negative effect was yesterday night, I drank a decaf Americano around 11pm, and then woke up in the middle of the night from a nightmare in which I was kidnapped by a serial killer. Today I decided to have just two cups of coffee – in the morning and in the afternoon, and stop caffeine after 5pm. I don’t particularly enjoy participating in serial killer action dreams. I don’t know whether it was the decaf that lead to the nightmare, but there is one study in which Swiss scientists studying caffeine’s effects in a small group of people report markedly elevated blood pressure and increased nervous system activity when occasional coffee drinkers drank a triple espresso, regardless of whether or not it contained caffeine. The results suggest that some unknown ingredient or ingredients in coffee – not caffeine – is responsible for cardiovascular activation, he explains. Coffee contains several hundred different substances.

New Buzz On Coffee: It’s Not The Caffeine That Raises Blood Pressure

I have also come across an article discussing the best times to drink coffee. It states that The peak production of cortisol occurs between 8–9 am (under normal circumstances.) This means that at the time that many people are having their first cup of coffee on the way to work, their bodies are actually “naturally caffeinating” the most effectively.  Cortisol is considered a stress-related hormone and consumption of caffeine has been shown to increase the production of cortisol when timed at periods of peak cortisol levels. An increased tolerance for caffeine can therefore lead to heightened cortisol levels which can disturb circadian rhythms and have other deleterious effects on your health. The article suggests that the times of peak cortisol levels in most people are between 8-9 am, 12-1 pm and 5:30-6:30 pm. Therefore, timing your “coffee breaks” between 9:30am-11:30am and 1:30pm and 5:00pm takes advantage of the dips in your cortisol levels when you need a boost the most.