Got to my feet, I was reeling and dizzy

Something very strange happened to me yesterday. At the coffee/tea hour in the morning before talks began, a friend of mine gave me some tea she had made. I drank it and a few minutes later began to feel dizzy and sweaty. I went outside and walked around for a while, and felt a little bit better, but my balance was off. As long as I sat in one place and didn’t try to read or type I was okay, but as soon as I got up, I felt dizzy and light-headed, and when I looked at a floor or table, it seemed to slant. It was a little bit like vertigo — which I had once in the morning a few years ago when one of my ears was bothering me — but not as extreme and without so much spinning and nausea.

I had to cancel a lecture I was supposed to give (a friend filled in for me) and napped for a while. I felt a bit better — less dizzy and no longer sweating — but I still stumbled a bit when I walked. Finally, I went home and slept for most of the afternoon and felt a lot better. But even this morning I wasn’t sure of my footing. I’m fine now for the first time since.

My friend said the tea was made of something called mate, and that she never had heard of such a reaction before. Have you heard of anything like this before? It scared the hell out of me. It’s possible that it wasn’t the tea, my ears have been getting plugged by allergies recently and maybe it had to do with that, but the timing is so suspicious that I’m pretty sure it was.

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135 replies
  1. 1
    Wil says:

    I love mate, and there is definitely a bit of a buzz-like effect…sort of like drinking supercharged tea.

    I’ve never heard of a reaction like yours, but mate is definitely more potent than just ‘tea.’

  2. 2
    Comrade Mary says:

    Yeah, mate can cause a few side effects.

    Like caffeine, yerba mate may cause nausea, digestive upset and vomiting in some people. Yerba mate may also cause heart palpitations, temporarily increased blood pressure and dizziness

    Glad you’re feeling better. Try some nice peppermint tea next time, maybe.

  3. 3
    DougJ says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    Yeah, also had heart palpitations.

  4. 4
    Baud says:

    OT Doug, but you teach math, right? What kind do you teach?

  5. 5
    kdaug says:

    Sounds like a BP spike to me – a friend used to get the same thing from salt.

    Did you notice dimming in your peripheral vision?

  6. 6
    MattMinus says:

    A former co-worker of mine used to claim it was a legal high.

    Looks like you got fucked up by accident, DougJ!

  7. 7
    Darkrose says:

    I had the same reaction the first (and only) time I tried mate. It contains three chemicals: caffeine, theobromine and theophylline. Something in that combination drives my heart rate up to dangerous levels and causes dizziness.

  8. 8
    DougJ says:


    What is a BP spike?


    Pretty much everyone has to teach all different kinds these days.

  9. 9
    Amanda in the South Bay says:


    blood pressure?

  10. 10
    IrishGirl says:

    @DougJ: Blood pressure spike?

  11. 11
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    I have never had maté but many years ago I inherited an odd collection of silver utensils that were kind of a combination of drinking straw and long-handled spoon. I was told they were maté spoons, and that maté was a special kind of tea served in South America. Putting your experience together with my memories of the elderly (somewhat spacy) great-aunt in question, I’m wondering if we’re not dealing with a mild hallucinogen here. I’ll have to do some research. Hadn’t thought of maté in years.

  12. 12
    Baud says:


    Ok, thanks. Just curious.

    And stay away from the mate.

  13. 13
    Hawes says:

    Mate is Argentinian for LSD.

  14. 14
    bystander says:

    SIDE EFFECTS: Flushing, nausea, vomiting, irritability, nervousness, increased urination and headache may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, contact your doctor promptly. Tell your doctor immediately if you have any of these unlikely but serious side effects: stomach pain, yellowing eyes and skin, dark urine, fever, muscle twitching, unusually fast/slow/irregular heartbeat. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

  15. 15
    quannlace says:

    Just because something is ‘natural’ doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with it’s own risks.

    I tried some Kava-Kava supplements when I was going through some stressful times. One of the printed side effects was possible blurred vision. Suddenly had a a bit of that while I was driving down Main street. Came right back home and through the rest of the bottle in the trash. Pretty scary.

  16. 16
    PurpleGirl says:

    I’ve heard of mate but never had any nor know much about it. It does sound like you reacted to it. If it plays with your blood pressure and heart you don’t want to try it again.

  17. 17
    Ripley says:

    Celestial Seasonings sells a mate based tea, Morning Thunder. I love the stuff but it’s hard to come by in the Midwest.

  18. 18
    khead says:

    Are you sure the local SWAT team isn’t coming to get you?

  19. 19
    Lojasmo says:

    Yeah, it was the tea. Unlikely to have been related to blood pressure, or whatever.

    OT: wife just offered a two week trip to South Africa and Namibia we scoring some US dignitaries (congresscritters and suchlike) through an exchange program for young politicos.

    She’s never been overseas, or away from me and the sprout for more than a week. Nervous.

  20. 20
    Wil says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Yep, mate spoons.

    There is a whole culture associated with mate drinking, full of dos and don’ts and etiquette.

  21. 21
    David Fud says:

    A coworker of mine who was taking heart meds drank some green tea some years ago and almost died because it interfered with his heart meds. Do not forget that some of those herbal teas can actually have active ingredients that interfere with other meds. If you are on other meds that might have had those symptoms had you withdrawn from your prescription medications, consider the possibility that the tea you drank may have interfered with your prescription medications.

  22. 22
    kdaug says:


    What is a BP spike?

    Sorry, temporarily elevated blood pressure.

    Can be serious, particularly if you have hypertension already. But if you’re generally healthy, most of the time just laying down, relaxing, and waiting it out will suffice.

    If it lasted more than an hour, I’d go to the doctor. More than 2 hours, I’d go to the ER.

  23. 23
    Grover Gardner says:

    I tried kava-kava once when I was feeling stressed and not sleeping well and it made me feel terrible.

  24. 24
    DougJ says:


    I have lowish blood pressure, low cholesterol, everything in excellent shape on that front.

  25. 25
    jl says:


    Glad DougJ is OK.

    I like Morning Thunder too. I can drink mate with no problem, just like a cup of strong coffee for me.

    Didn’t know some people were so sensitive to it, or had such bad reactions.

  26. 26
    kdaug says:


    Just because something is ‘natural’ doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with it’s own risks.


    Arsenic and uranium are ‘natural’.

    Don’t recommend sprinkling them on your breakfast cereal.

  27. 27
    Lojasmo says:

    FYWP for o edit, but also, blue rays AWESOME. And we just gave up all media providers for. Internet only media (Netflix, and Hulu plus) and it is GREAT!

  28. 28
    Wag says:

    As an Internist, the combination of vertigo and sudden onset of poor coordinator raises red flags. You need to get checked out and possibly have an MRI

  29. 29
    Yutsano says:

    @DougJ: You should have taken the blue pill.

  30. 30
    MikeJ says:

    Was your head beating like a song by the Clash?

  31. 31
    EIGRP says:

    I’m pretty sure yerba mate is not really a tea, even though it is made the same way. To be a true tea it has to come from the (Chinese) camellia sinensis plant.

    If you do decide you want to try yerba mate again, I would try it at the Pittsford Wegmans Tea Bar.

    I’ve tried the mate before – I didn’t like it, especially compared to traditional tea.


  32. 32
    DougJ says:


    I’m fine now.

  33. 33
    Violet says:


    What is a BP spike?

    Blood pressure spike. The dizziness can be caused by your blood pressure dropping dramatically when you stand, after it’s been too high when you were sitting. The sweating and heart palpitations can be related or the sweating can be from high BP.

    You should tell you doctor about it the next time you see him/her. Some of those symptoms can be consistent with a stroke, and personally I’d go get checked out just to make sure you are okay. The stumbling when you walk even the following morning is what caught my eye.

    Glad you are feeling better. It’s probably just the mate, but if there is something you need to know, you’d be better off knowing it now so you can deal with it.

  34. 34
    DougJ says:


    I like coffee and I like tea, I just don’t like this fiddle-dee-di

  35. 35
    gday mate says:

    What, no gourd? What you got there is a bombilla or bomba. It usually comes with a matching gourd to hold the mate.

    Anyway, yeah, mate does that to some people.

    I’ll tell you what I miss from the other America, though, is the guarana da amazonia. It’s like a cocaine milkshake. That shit will get you all fired up.

    Or, if you get dizzy from just mate, probably kill you.

  36. 36
    Wag says:


    I’d still get checked out. I don’t think you need an ER visit, but you should still get checked out

  37. 37
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Mix that crap with some Sudafed or blood pressure meds and you could have some real issues.

  38. 38
    khead says:


    Heh. 30+ responses and still dropping lyrics?

  39. 39
    Wag says:


    The stumbling the next morning was what caught me eye too

  40. 40
    DougJ says:


    I’ll see my doctor when I get home.


  41. 41
    kdaug says:


    I have lowish blood pressure, low cholesterol, everything in excellent shape on that front.

    You should be fine, then.

    Just be careful with strange teas – different things affect different people differently.

  42. 42
    uila says:

    The only sensible thing to do is have another cup tomorrow morning and see what happens.

  43. 43
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    But even this morning I wasn’t sure of my footing. I’m fine now for the first time since.

    Missed this part somehow. That’s not a transient blood pressure symptom. What you’re describing really calls for a visit to the doctor, and sooner rather than later (like tomorrow morning), as these are some fairly classic TIA symptoms.

    EDIT: IOW what violet and wag said.

  44. 44
    Elisabeth says:

    Maybe it is just me but it seems like she should have mentioned you weren’t drinking run-of-the-mill chamomile. I know she couldn’t have anticipated your reaction necessarily but given it appears this isn’t regular tea she might have mentioned what it was upfront.

  45. 45
    muddy says:

    @kdaug: I have a friend who thinks anything that says “organic” is good for you. I said I could take a crap on your plate and that would be organic, do you want to eat that?

  46. 46
    Wag says:


    Good deal. Glad you’re better. Drop me an email if you have any questions.

  47. 47
    efgoldman says:

    @DougJ: Welcome back to the 60s, dougj.
    Nice to have you.

  48. 48
    the Conster says:

    When I was on the early morning bus from Montivedeo to Punta del Este, I watched a guy drink his mate from his “travel” gourd. It was a two hour ride, and he refilled his gourd two or three times with hot water from a thermos he kept with him, so my guess is you got way too much concentration. Yerba mate is just about the only kind of “tea” sold in Argentina and Uruguay, and everyone seems to have some kind of way to keep it hot and potent over the course of a morning. Also, at one of the vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina, I watched mate being passed around by a family, so it’s not something for one gringo to consume.

  49. 49
    BillCinSD says:

    @Violet: My sister just had a small stroke and exhibited the same symptoms, so I’m glad you are going to see your doctor relatively soon.

  50. 50
    muddy says:

    As far as herbal remedies being problematic taken with prescriptions, hawthorne and digitalis is a bad combo. Hawthorne is recommended by herbalists for your heart, but if you are being treated for your heart and take digitalis as well it can kill you. The hawthorne potentiates the digitalis and makes your heart too slow.

    Did you find out a brand name or anything for the mate from your friend? It might even have had another ingredient, or you could be allergic to one or more of that.

  51. 51
    John says:

    Mate can have quite a kick, especially if it’s steeped for a long time. I prefer it to coffee myself, more of a ‘clean’ feel–but it’s definitely not something you give to somebody first thing in the morning without telling them!

  52. 52
    YoohooCthulhu says:

    Doug, I’ll third the scary symptoms consensus. Coordination problems the next day are consistent with (at least a minor) stroke…

  53. 53
    SteveinSC says:

    @Wag: Can panic attacks do something similar? Or migraine equivalents?

  54. 54
    Ripley says:

    Also, I used to be a heavy coffee drinker, so maybe mate wasn’t such an issue for my system.

    Put an aspirin between your knees and call the doctor in the AM.

  55. 55
    redshirt says:

    @uila: Just like riding a bike. ;)

    I once had a brief reaction like DougJ describes from a Starbucks party – iced coffee and coffee iced cream cake and chocolate covered coffee beans and I ate and ate then all of a sudden, WHAM: Shit got real. It passed in about 10 minutes so no big deal, but I remember the panic still quite well. Scary.

    I’ve since tried to replicate the experience with massive amounts of caffeine including that very same combination, but nothing. Maybe I’ve adapted.

    Stay well Doug.

  56. 56
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Are you sure David Brooks was not at the conference and slipped you something in the tea.

  57. 57
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    Our daughter swills and loves her tea and mate. I asked her about this and she said it’s likely that you had a reaction to it. Some of her friends have had similar reactions to it so she warns them before serving it, substituting tea if they’re not sure and want to avoid it.

    Glad you are feeling better though, keep it that way! :)

  58. 58
    JPL says:

    Doug, for the most part it sounds like you are getting good advice. Take care.

  59. 59
    DougJ says:



  60. 60
    Lolis says:

    I had about four glasses of mate the first time I tried it. It kept me up the whole night and I learned my lesson. People in Argentina drink it more than water though, so maybe you get used to it.

  61. 61
    Wag says:


    Possibly, but not the problems with coordination the next morning.

  62. 62
    Roger Moore says:


    Just because something is ‘natural’ doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with it’s own risks.

    Deathcap mushrooms are perfectly natural; that doesn’t mean they won’t kill you deader than a doornail.

  63. 63
  64. 64
    Pontiac says:

    Theobromine is the deal, and it gives mate for me a distinctly different buzz from purely caffeine bearing beverages.

    One does build a tolerance to it just as one builds a tolerance to caffeine, but it’s definitely not for everyone.

    I like it a good deal though; it’s pretty cheap if you buy it in the kilogram bags and one of those lasts a long time. Easier on the stomach than tea, at least imho.

  65. 65
    NotMax says:

    Still have the fancy silver, brass and wood mate cup and spoon bought back from Brazil in 1961, where it is drunk for the mood/mind-altering effects.

    And yes, some people have physically adverse reactions to it. Sorry to hear you suffered such.

    Same thing a possibility with kava, peyote and qat, so avoid those.

  66. 66
    DougJ says:


    Not so much coordination problems as getting used to the fact the ground was no longer slanting.

  67. 67
    Wag says:


    Excellent description.

  68. 68
    Anya says:

    DougJ – glad you’re okay! As the child of an amature herbalist, I’ve learned the hard way that not all herbal teas are for regular consumption.

  69. 69
    JPL says:

    @DougJ: Gotta say, when my allergies are bad, a gnat bite will cause swelling. I have to stay away from shellfish because of hives and the fact that I don’t want to look like Homer Simpson but never have I experienced what you went through.
    Listen to the dr.s on the site.

  70. 70
    The Right Honorable Member for, the Very Reverend Mother, Her Duchal Serene Highness. Dr. Hortense Sussudio Fuuckerfaaster says:

    maybe you’ve been letting cole’s wussy rub off on you dougee.

    in a variably unrelated matter, retarded penn staters still don’t get it

  71. 71
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Sound almost exactly like my reaction to tobacco. The shit fucks me up and not in a good way.

  72. 72
    NotMax says:


    I have a friend who thinks anything that says “organic” is good for you.

    Offer the friend an organic snack: a luscious lump of coal.

    And if the friend is a pet owner, remind him/her that dogs and cats and tropical fishies are organic as well.

  73. 73
    Stephen1947 says:

    The baristas in my local coffee house switched me over to yerba mate years ago because I was semi-addicted to red eyes and even black eyes (dark coffee w shots of expresso – red = 1-3 shots; black = 4+). I tend to drink it in mate latte form, with a little vanilla, because I don’t much care for mate flavor. I agree with other commenters that your reaction is somewhat extreme and therefore should be checked out.

  74. 74
    Sandra says:

    Vertigo makes you dizzy and nauseous. Vertigo often is related to the fluid in your inner ear. Certainly allergies, and ear infections affect the fluid in your inner ear.
    Recently, my sister had similar symptoms, visited her primary care physician, and was prescribed a Dramamine type medication. Ultimately, he did what’s called Epley Maneuvers. It’s physical therapy that shifts the crystals in your inner ear back to where they belong!
    He showed her how to do the maneuvers at home, and voila, she is all better.
    Obviously, you should visit your Dr. to rule out other causes.

  75. 75
    geg6 says:

    Just another reason for me to avoid that nasty shit some people call “tea”. If it isn’t from China or India, it isn’t tea. It’s something else and it’s swill. And often, a swill that can kill you, depending on your system, unknown health conditions, and drug interactions.

    Of course, I think real tea is swill, too, but it is valuable to me as one of what I call “sick foods”. These are foods and beverages you only eat or drink when you are very ill. Things like Jello or toast or crackers or chicken noodle soup. In the case of tea, it must be served with a large dollop f honey or Jameson’s, depending on the sickness. Otherwise, you should never injest them IMHO.

    The only tea I’ve ever enjoyed drinking was that my Brit grandmother made. Since she died in 1966, I haven’t drunk tea for pleasure since then. And don’t get me started on that shit they serve in the South, cold. The most disgusting shit that’s ever passed my lips. I’d rather have a glass of cod liver oil

  76. 76
    Stephen1947 says:

    Also, sometime in the late 70s one of my vegan friends suggested valerian tea as an aid to quitting tobacco smoking. So I bought some valerian in my local co-op and brewed it up. My reaction was quite similar to yours, perhaps even more intense. So I looked it up and discovered that valerian can poison people in quite small quantities. I’ve never liked vegans very much since then…

  77. 77
    fraught says:

    I was thinking that if you call a doctor she’ll (he’ll) just set you up for an mri which will cost you big dollars even if you have insurance. Then wag came on and sure enough…
    It’s automatic now. Docs just order tests.

  78. 78
    beltane says:

    @muddy: Until 150 years ago all lethal poisons were, if not organic in the sense of being carbon based, “natural” in the hippie sense of the word.

    Salvia is organic but it’s not something you might want to ingest regularly if ever.

  79. 79
    Stephen1947 says:

    geg6 – too bad you’ll never get a chance to sample some rooibos sometime…

  80. 80
    Valdivia says:

    late to the thread but first: hope you are totally better now DougJ, those spells can be quite scary and if they persist I think you should get it checked out. /says the neurotic about health person in your blog ;)

    I am sure someone already mentioned Mate is drank copiously in Argentina–very high caffeine content.

  81. 81
    muddy says:

    @NotMax: Well, no she won’t eat flesh of any kind because she works in animal rescue. I say those cows and chickens would never even be born if someone wasn’t going to eat them. Just get local ones that live a decent life. Now she won’t eat fish because that’s raping the ocean. But she gets a lot of organic natural pre-prepared food that’s not healthy at all, full of sugar and sodium. Co-op fast food sort of thing. She’s gained weight and is unhappy with her health since going this route. Vanilla Silk instead of milk, etc. Makes me want to scream, but we all have different priorities, and lines to draw.

  82. 82
    geg6 says:


    Whatever that is, I’m not interested. Tea is sick food. That is all it is good for. Yuck.

    I’m not big on coffee either, though I drink a cup in the morning. Only Dunkin Donuts, though. Any other kind tastes like burnt peanut shells or something equally nasty.

  83. 83
    MikeJ says:


    The only sensible thing to do is have another cup tomorrow morning and see what happens.

    It’s not science if it’s not reproducible.

  84. 84
    Roger Moore says:


    If it isn’t from China or India, it isn’t tea. It’s something else and it’s swill.

    Don’t tell the Japanese or Sri Lankans that; they’re likely to take offense. Perhaps you should say that if it isn’t Camellia sinensis it isn’t tea.

  85. 85
    MobiusKlein says:

    Yeba mate? Hate that shit.
    Drank it once, and couldn’t do a damned thing for the rest of the afternoon.
    I can handle double latte, etc.

    Not a good high, just felt like my body was no good.

  86. 86
    muddy says:

    @beltane: Or pyrethrin.

  87. 87
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @geg6: Tea that you get in the US is rather tepid, usually they give you lukewarm water and a pathetic looking tea bag. If you like strong tea, try Assam tea and top it of with some milk and sugar. Brewing your own tea is must. No teabags, go with tea leaves.

  88. 88

    Doug, were you using it to wash down magic mushrooms?

    Seriously though, glad you’re ok.

  89. 89
    MikeJ says:


    Of course, I think real tea is swill, too, but it is valuable to me as one of what I call “sick foods”

    Nonono. Back in ye olden dayes all good companies would have a tea lady who brought the cart around midmorning and midafternoon.

    Sadly, by the time I started working in England, the .com rush was on and part of staying lean and mean was no tea lady. I did, however, work for several banks and insurance companies, and back then they still did things right. Of course now even they don’t want to give a pittance to the widows who used to serve the tea.

  90. 90
    Valdivia says:

    Yerba mate is definitely gaucho territory, but wholly representative of Argentinian culture now. As you can now attest to–strong as hell.

  91. 91
    geg6 says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Oh, I know. I should have made clear that was my veddy British granny’s standard.

  92. 92
    Raven says:

    Bohdi, my peaceloveing doggie killed a groundhog this afternoon.

  93. 93
    NotMax says:

    As for herbal teas: Bleargh.

    What near beer is to beer or what tofurkey is to turkey is what herbal teas are to tea.

    Except maybe Red Zinger, which has some taste beyond hot water to it (if brewed in a strong enough concentration), and has licorice in it, which is a laxative.

  94. 94

    @quannlace: That’s crazy. Me and my friends were into kava for a couple months during our whatever-we-can-ingest-for-a-buzz phase. Went to a concert on Kava and was super-stoned, but never had any visual stuff like that.

  95. 95
    22over7 says:

    At first, I thought it might be a coincidence, that you got benign positional vertigo at the same time you drank the tea (vertigo can be a real bitch, and yes, I do play a doctor on the internet). But I read it again and said, mate. That stuff is nasty.

    On the other hand, it might be the math. I edit math books, and believe me, it’ll mess with you after a while. Negative infinity? Really? Makes me dizzy just thinking about it.

  96. 96
    geg6 says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    I learned how to brew tea from a master, my Granny Gray. She was born and raised in Cambridge and immigrated here when she was 19. Her family is still there. I have her tea ball, teapot and cozy. You’d probably love my tea, but I think it sucks next to Granny Gray’s.

  97. 97
    Davis X. Machina says:


    If it isn’t from China or India, it isn’t tea.

    How about Cornwall?

  98. 98
    kindness says:

    Isn’t ‘Mate’ the new street name for bath salts?

  99. 99
    Devon says:

    I drink Yerba mate all of the time and have never had that effect. My brand of choice is Cruz de Malta from Argentina. It is a natural stimulant like coffee or guarana, so perhaps you did have some sort of physical reaction to it. Just as a caffeine sensitive person would to an americano. I’ve had my share of kava in a few tented kava ceremonies in Fiji and that stuff is foul and nasty in a liquid form. After drinking a big bowl of it you do get a subtle kind of kava buzz. But despite the exotic looking instruments involved with traditional Yerba mate drinking- The Bombilla, the mate gourd, the Yerba in loose leaf form, I have never had any effects others other than feeling awake and alert. I mix it with regular tea and drink it iced too. Don’t drink it again if you felt like that. :)

  100. 100
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Raven: Groundhog shouldn’t have picked that fight.

    I spoke to my uncle about fish taxidermy: his guy retired a few years ago, so that is a dead end. Sorry.

  101. 101
    geg6 says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Wow! I did not know that. Granny Gray might have made an exception for that. Though she thought anywhere outside of the London area was beyond the beyond.

  102. 102
    Dead Ernest says:

    Another physician chiming in.
    In an attempt to employ the Fristian technique of diagnosing from afar (“doesn’t look brain dead on the TV to me, and I own quite a few hospitals”), I’d say it may have been a combination of the stimulant of the matte and the plugged ears.

    The congestion in your ears, worsened by the increase in blood pressure, could account for the symptoms of vertigo.

    (BTW, Sandra the little stones in the ear, called otoliths, can wreak havoc. Typically, when present, simply moving your head can cause the otoliths to bounce around on the little ‘hairs’ of the inner ear and send profoundly confusing and contradictory information to the brain messing with the news of ‘which way is up’, just like sea-sickness does. That little movement of the head can turn the world upside down, cause nausea, be entirely debilitating.
    The little stones are not supposed to be there at all but the fluid of the inner ear can sometimes have particles, fall out of solution and crystalize allowing them to develop. A maneuver called the ‘Hallpike’ is provocative and sends the crystals bouncing around like a pin ball. The Epley is then employed to float the otoliths to a spot away from the hair-like receptors where they can’t cause the problem.)

    I appreciate Dr Wag’s concern for something in your head prompting the idea of an MRI. But I’d get a good neurological exam done, along with a good personal and family history. If nothing is suggestive of a mass or a bleed. I’d wait on the MRI while paying close attention to any other/further symptoms. Of course, like every other Doc, I now have to worry that just by having said that, this will now actually cause bleeds to spill and massess to sprout…just kidding, sort of.

    Best wishes for all being well.

  103. 103
    Cap'n Billy says:


    Labyrinthitis is a viral infection of the inner ear; I got it 10 years ago and have been dizzy ever since. The Epley maneuvers don’t help in severe cases. Milder cases can last a few minutes, hours, or a day and then clear up.

    Symptoms are vertigo and the resultant nausea, involuntary eye movements, and blurred vision. Anxiety during an attack is understandable, too.

    I’ve adapted to the dizziness, except in the dark. Had to stop playing tennis, basketball, and baseball. Can still bicycle – with my eyes open :-) It’s amazing what we can adapt to.

  104. 104
    HRA says:

    Rule 1 is to not drink or eat anything that is not familiar.
    I remember what 1 sip of homegrown European green tea did to me when I was a child. My Mom and I went on a welcome visit to new arrivals from over the big pond where I was served the tea. In their culture, you did not refuse hospitality.

    Doug, I, too, am joining those who are advising you to get medical help ASAP there. Self diagnosing is not the route to take and you still have to make that trip home.

    My best wishes to you.

  105. 105
    muddy says:

    @Dead Ernest: I had really severe vertigo to the point that my body would get spun right out of my chair (like that annoying woman on the car insurance commercial – “I literally fell out of my chair! – Really, lady? really?) Anyway, it was like they changed the gravity on the holodeck. I would have gone down the cellar stairs any number of times, except that I would spin in the right direction and grab the wall. It’s amazing how your body just obeys the signal.

    I had the Epley, sat upright that night, it lasted 2 months. That maneuver is so cool, it’s not often you walk out of the doctor’s office with something *fixed*, no pills, no cutting, no waiting. The second time the doctor said that they had recently said at Dartmouth that you should sleep sitting up for 2 nights. I propped myself up with pillows so I couldn’t roll over, and slept upright for a week, just to be on the safe side. It hasn’t come back.

  106. 106
    Brachiator says:

    @DougJ: Hope you are feeling better. Other posters have mentioned the possible side effects, which can be exacerbated if you have earlier had strong coffee or very strong tea. There may have also been additives to the mate, since a lot of this kind of stuff does not have to meet any standards with respect to purity, levels of potency, etc.

    You probably want to touch base with your regular doctor. You might also want to watch out for other products with similar ingredients.

  107. 107
    El Cid says:

    It’s not like the Guarani are some sort recent arrival to the Americas and mate some sort of recent New Age fascination.

  108. 108
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, don’t forget to tell your friend that mate is actually very strong stuff and she shouldn’t give it to unsuspecting people. Hopefully your bad reaction will teach her to be more cautious.

  109. 109
    A moocher says:

    @Stephen1947: this would be the exception that proves the rule, geg6. RedBush makes a very delicious and almost-magically refreshing drink.

    It’s basically scotch broom, except a different species.

  110. 110
    A moocher says:

    @Stephen1947: this would be the exception that proves the rule, geg6. RedBush makes a very delicious and almost-magically refreshing drink.

    It’s basically scotch broom, except a different species.

  111. 111
    A moocher says:

    @Stephen1947: this would be the exception that proves the rule, geg6. RedBush makes a very delicious and almost-magically refreshing drink.

    It’s basically scotch broom, except a different species.

  112. 112
    Sandra says:

    Thanks guys! Obviously, I am not a Dr. and only play one on the internets! I’ve known at least four people who have had vertigo, and the awfulness that goes with it. My husband was one of them. Fortunately, everyone I’ve known who suffered from the affects of vertigo, had nothing seriously wrong with them other than feeling like they have had 10 too many.
    I know for some folks it is a life-long affliction, and very disconcerting.

  113. 113
    NJDave says:

    Poison Ivy is natural too.

  114. 114
    NotMax says:

    @El Cid

    Myself and my relatives were held hostage by the Guaraní until some low-level government intervention took place.

    Nothing political about the incident (though it did involve the brandishing of guns, both rifles and machine guns, by the villagers); it escalated from misplaced pangs of adoration of the chieftain.

    But that’s a story for another venue; too long to recount here.

  115. 115
    Triassic Sands says:

    Based on what Doug has told us, it seems extremely likely that he experienced an unusually harsh, but not unheard of reaction to ingesting mate.

    The US has the most expensive health care system in the world, and it includes a great deal of waste, some of which is the result of unnecessary and ill-advised medical scans (including MRIs). Some researchers have suggested that as many as 35% to 40% of high technology medical scans done in the US are unnecessary. Given what Doug has told us, an MRI in this case, barring further troubling events, seems like it would fall into that category.

    Unless Doug experiences lasting, troublesome symptoms, it seems reasonable to assume that he should avoid mate in the future. If there are residual effects, a visit to the doctor is probably a good idea. But an MRI, based on what has happened so far, sounds to me like a poor — and premature — use of expensive technology.

    The stumbling when you walk even the following morning is what caught my eye.

    A doctor recently prescribed an anti-depressant for me as a sleep aid. (It seems that one of the common side effects of some anti-depressants is drowsiness.) In the morning, when I got up, I nearly fell on my face, and for several minutes I was reeling — extremely unsteady on my feet. I didn’t suspect a stroke, or some other serious medical condition; I suspected the medication. I’ve never taken it again, and amazingly, I’ve never had a recurrence of those symptoms. The time line of events in Doug’s case seems similarly direct to me.

    sometimes a little common sense is the first step in medicine.

    Be well, Doug. (And skip the mate.)

  116. 116
    DougJ says:

    @Dead Ernest:

    Very interesting. I think my blood pressure went through the roof, and I could hear rushing in my ears a bit when this started to happen.

    Thanks again to everybody for their advice and input!

  117. 117
    Sandra says:

    Being dizzy and stumbling around when you haven’t had too many cocktails is extremely scary, and would make anyone’s BP go up! Take care of yourself and sleep well.

  118. 118
    km says:

    The first (and only) time I tried yerba mate, the same thing happened to me (though it only lasted an hour or so). In fact, as I was reading and before I got to the end I was thinking, “he drank mate.” Not a pleasant feeling.

  119. 119

    Feel better Doug J. Andfawns on the lawn next door, taken from our adjoining yard.

  120. 120
    daverave says:

    My advice, DougJ, is to start saving for an increase in insurance rates if you go to the doctor and these symptoms become part of your permanent medical record. When Mitt becomes prez, you’ll be uninsurable. USA#1, USA#1, USA#1!!!!!1

  121. 121
    Donut says:


    Country and Western.


  122. 122
    Wag says:

    @Triassic Sands:

    It’s not necessarily the frequency with which Americans use medical technology that drives up our cost of health care. It’s the amount we pay to physicians for performing said technological procedures that drIves up the cost.

    Case In point. Japan has more MRI machines per capita and the number of scans performed far exceed the number of scans performed here. Despite this, Japan’s health. Are. Let’s are far lower than ours.

  123. 123
    trollhattan says:

    Considering a nearly lifelong urge for to mate, I’m not sure these symptoms shouldn’t be in a pop song lyric.

    Also, too, is this stuff a vasodilator? I’ve seen similar impacts on folks after pounding copious amounts of niacin.

  124. 124
    Nutella says:

    @the Conster:

    Yes, there’s an entire ritual about mate in Uruguay and Argentina: how you drink it, how you stir it (don’t!), when you share it, when you must take a sip as the shared cup and straw (known as the gourd or mate and the bombilla) go around.

    Serious practitioners carry their termo (thermos) and mate with them everywhere. You can get fancy leather cases to carry them around in, too.

    I tried it and it looks and tastes like grass clippings, at least the way they drink it around Montevideo.

  125. 125
    asiangrrlMN says:

    Huh. I love mate, and I’ve never had this kind of reaction. I see it’s common, though. The more you know. My advice – don’t drink it again, DougJ. You’re welcome.

  126. 126
    AxelFoley says:

    Sounds like she was trying to drug you so she could get in your pants, Doug. Wimmins is shady like that.

  127. 127
    Triassic Sands says:


    Whole books have been written about the excessive (and wasteful) medical care in the US. It isn’t the only reason our health care is so expensive, but it is one reason — one that is quite well-documented. I didn’t imagine or make-up the figure I cited about the number of unnecessary scans in the US. I would expect there to be some unnecessary scans, and I wouldn’t consider a relatively small percentage to be a sign of poor practice, but 35-40% is outrageous, especially since such scans cost hundreds of dollars (or more) each.

    “Overtreated: why too much medicine is making us sicker and poorer” by Shannon Brownlee is one such book. It’s a distressing read. In “Overtreated” Brownlee reports that Americans spend between 1/5 and 1/3 of their health care dollars on “unnecessary treatments, devices, medications, and tests,” with an estimated 30,000 deaths annually due to unnecessary care. Even if one assumes she has exaggerated the frequency (I don’t), there is a huge problem.

    Unfortunately (for me, anyway) I’ve had far too much contact with the US medical establishment over the past six years (much excellent care, more than a little waste, and some grossly unnecessary stuff that I simply refused when I was in a position to do so). In one case, if the doctor (hematologist) had simply read my medical records, he would have seen that I had already had a biopsy (for celiac disease) and, so, the celiac test he ordered was a complete waste of time and money. But he didn’t.

    In a comment I chose not to post, I wrote:

    In my opinion, doctors should not be permitted to own and operate MRI machines (or other high technology scans). Private ownership of scanning equipment is one of the reasons scans in the US cost so much more than they do in other countries. When a doctor profits directly from an MRI say, he is more likely to order such scans (partly human nature and partly socialization and indoctrination in predatory capitalism) even when they aren’t advisable. Further, he will always send his patients to his own scanning facilities, which means there is no competition — remember competition? It’s the mechanism in capitalism that is supposed to result in lower costs and improved performance (raucous laughter). When doctors own their own scanners, competition is absent, resulting in worse and more expensive care.

  128. 128
    Death Panel Truck says:


    30+ responses and still dropping lyrics?

    Strange brew, kill what’s inside of you.

  129. 129
    mumbly_joe says:

    Chiming in late here, but shame on your friend for serving mate and calling it “tea”! Mate is, essentially, to tea what energy drinks are to soda, and just as nobody in their right mind would offer you soda and then serve you a Red Bull, it’s really not a good idea to serve yerba mate to people who are expecting Earl Grey or some such.

    FWIW, I’ve known folks who had exactly the reaction you’re describing on the rare occasion they’ve had energy drinks, or if they have a bad reaction to coffee, so it’s almost certainly the caffeine you were reacting to. Have you ever had that sort of thing happen with other highly caffeinated beverages?

  130. 130
    bob h says:

    The Argentines drink a lot of mate, and maybe it was the caffein that triggered some heart palpitations that you did not feel.

  131. 131
    presquevu says:

    Worst side effect for me is the first brewing tasting like latex paint.

  132. 132
    Miki says:

    Hmmm – wouldn’t want to be a heavy drinker of this stuff –

  133. 133

    @kdaug: Arsenic and uranium are ‘natural’.

    @Roger Moore: Deathcap mushrooms are perfectly natural; that doesn’t mean they won’t kill you deader than a doornail.

    Jesus, people. I get what you’re saying, you’re doing the chemical equivalent of godwinning in order to prove a point, but it’s not like Yerba Mate is some serious psychoactive. Millions of people consume it on a daily basis with no more noticeable effect than experienced by regular coffee drinkers. And it’s not like Doug was experimenting; somebody offered him a drink, and he had a bad reaction. This isn’t datura or banisteriopsis or something that normally comes with major warnings.

  134. 134
    nastybrutishntall says:

    @Cris (without an H): This room reeks from bedwetting. Seriously, people… get out of the house once in awhile. It’s fucking tea. Maybe more caffeinated, but I notice no one here is claiming to have almost died from a Red Bull. But suddenly botanical things are all weird and scary.

  135. 135
    MobiusKlein says:

    @nastybrutishntall: All I know is I tried it once, and had a reaction much like Doug.
    Would never, ever drink that (my subjective opinion) shit again.

    Was not like a coffee buzz at all.

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