- Rooibos is a good source of antioxidants and is the only known source of a potent antioxidant aspalathin, which could play a role in combating several lifestyle diseases.
- Unlike black and green teas, Rooibos is naturally caffeine free (not decaffeinated) and therefore suitable for children, infants and breast-feeding mothers.
- Rooibos has proven cancer-fighting properties in animal research studies, and exciting new research points towards the role that Rooibos can play in promoting heart health and preventing diabetes.
- Rooibos contains low amounts of tannin. (Tannins are astringent, bitter-tasting plant polyphenols that bind and precipitate proteins and interfere with iron absorption in the body.)
- After centuries of use, no negative side effects of Rooibos have ever been recorded.
ROOIBOS SCIENCE AND HEALTH
People have been talking and writing about the health benefits of Rooibos since the late 1960's. This widespread anecdotal evidence and the presence of a blend of antioxidants in the product, whet the research appetites of several scientists in South Africa and around the world. They are testing and analysing Rooibos intensively to evaluate the potential health properties and to study the complex mix of active ingredients in Rooibos. The active ingredients in Rooibos are polyphenolic compounds. Polyphenols are characteristic chemical structures produced by plants.
A convincing body of evidence confirming the potential health properties of Rooibos has been built up, mostly based on in vitro work (in test tubes) and in vivo work (with live animals). Many articles on the properties and health benefits of Rooibos have been published in the South African and international scientific literature, including several research articles in high-impact, peer-reviewed scientific journals. [link to Research References]
The next step is to confirm that the same health benefits can be proven in the human body. A research team at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, led by Dr Jeanine Marnewick, is now taking on the challenge of the first ever clinical Rooibos studies in adults who are at risk for developing heart disease. There study started in June 2007 and the first results are expected early in 2008. Their research is co-funded by the South African Rooibos Council. (also see HEALTH RESEARCH )
KEY RESEARCH REFERENCES
- The most comprehensive review of Rooibos research to date was published in 2008. Reference: Joubert E, Gelderblom WCA, Louw A, De Beer D. South African herbal teas: Aspalathus linearis, Cyclopia spp. and Athrixia phylicoides - A Review. Journal of Ethnoparmacology 119, 376 - 412 (2008).
- A 2007 review of research into Rooibos and honeybush, published by McKay and Blumberg, provides a good summary of health research findings. Reference: McKay DL, Blumberg JB. A Review of the bioactivity of South African herbal teas: Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) and Honeybush (Cyclopia intermedia). Phytotheraphy Research 21, 1-16 (2007).
- During 2006 local research leaders in the field (Joubert & Schulz) published an overview of the production and quality aspects of Rooibos and related products. Reference: Joubert E, Schulz H. Production and quality aspects of rooibos tea and related products. A review. Journal of Applied Botany and Food Quality 80, 138 - 144 (2006).
- In 2003 the American Botanical Society published a comprehensive review of research on the composition and health benefits of Rooibos. Reference: Erickson L. Rooibos tea: Research into antioxidant and antimutagenic properties. HerbalGram 59:33-45 (2003).