28 November 2006


This is actually weird, and we're talking about a place where presidents comparing themselves to pharaohs are not considered weird. Yerba mate has had many properties attributed to it, mostly related to its stimulant effects and the ritualistic nature of its drinking as mate, Argentina's national drink (sharing a place with Fernet con Coca), but never in the field of medical imaging.

Well, believe it or not, yerba mate has been shown to be useful as a negative contrast material for the imaging of the bile ducts. Such imaging is normally done by sedating the patient and injecting radiologically opaque (iodine-based) contrast material into the duodenum (this is called an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography or ERCP). As someone who used to work in the imaging department of a hospital, I know that this process is long and messy. With yerba mate, you only need to drink mate and get a much faster, more precise and non-invasive RMI scan. The radiologists discovered this as they were looking to achieve the effect with pineapple juice (!) -- some of the test subjects had drunk mate before. It was introduced to the medical community during the recently held 52th Argentine Congress of Radiology.

Will yerba displace iodine-based contrast materials from other niches? You know, a bunch of companies make huge profits out of those horrible substances. And they feed the companies that manufacture anti-allergic medicines and corticosteroids, as intravenous iodine tends to anger the immunological system of a significant number of people. Will the Big Corporations kidnap the yerba mate radiologists or buy their silence? Will they lobby against yerba mate for medicinal use?? Will they maybe set fire to yerba mate plantations and make it look like accidents??? They made the water engine disappear after all...


  1. Anonymous14:27

    I just wanted to leave you a comment that I absolutely love your blog Pablo. I was in Rosario in 2004 and it is my favorite city in Argentina. I just returned (Monday the 27th) from a visit to Buenos Aires, Lujan, La Plata and Montevideo but I know my next visit in 2007 I must return to Rosario! Maybe we can meet and I can treat you to a drink but until then I hope we can stay in touch. Roberto Jose Burnett (Miami Beach, FL EEUU) psyboy@hotmail.com

  2. Anonymous00:32

    No había visto la nota en Clarín y ojalá los intereses de laboratorios y empresas de medicina prepaga no bloqueen su adopción. Excelente blog, Gracias.
    Juan, Bs.As.
    P.D. Todavía recuerdo la lucha del Sr. Presidente Arturo Illia en favor de los génericos y sus consecuencias...

  3. Hi DforD,

    I am writing this yerba mate blog. Let's exchange links. My email is "visarga at gmail dot com".



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