Rooibos ( Pronounced Roy-Boss) is also known as red tea,
redbush tea, bush tea, mountain tea, longlife tea, herbal tea or
allergy tea, is not a tea at all but a herbal substitute for tea.The
red bush is a native shrub of south Africa, where
people have made tea from it for hundreds of years and is used by some
tribes for medicinal purposes for treatment of hay fever symptoms,
asthma, eczema and to soothe heartburn, ease the pain of stomach ulcers
and relieve nausea.
Rooibos tea contains many flavonoids, free radical fighting
antioxidants which are vary similar to polyphenols found in green tea.
Two particularly potent flavonoids, quercetin and luteolin, rooibos
also contains phenolic acids, antioxidants also found in fruits,
vegetables and whole grains. Scientists
around the world are working on Rooibos to gain a better understanding
of this unique, South African herbal tea. Some are investigating the
health benefits of Rooibos and its potential to combat a range of
diseases, while others are trying to understand exactly how the
bioactive components in Rooibos work.
Rooibos is caffeine free and low in tannins. It contains minimal
amounts of calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium and much less
fluoride than found in real teas.
published over the last decade prove the therapeutic ability of Rooibos
to fight cancer, protect the liver against disease, boost the immune
system, as well as to relieve allergies and treat digestive disorders.
The research studies summarised below show that the beneficial effects
of Rooibos have been well documented and established in the
international scientific literature.
SUMMARIES OF ROOIBOS HEALTH RESEARCH FINDINGS FROM
PEER-REVIEWED SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE
- Rooibos as a
source of antioxidants and cancer-fighting and anti-ageing agents
2003, the American Botanical Council published a comprehensive review
of Rooibos research. It summarises the scientific evidence that Rooibos
(scientific name = Aspalathus linearis) is a source of flavonoid
antioxidants and protects against cancer, heart disease and stroke. The
authors cite many studies showing that Rooibos contains antioxidants
that have positive effects when tested as isolated substances and that
the tea as a whole has good antioxidant activity in laboratory tests
(in vitro). They list all the antioxidants found in Rooibos and confirm
that Rooibos is the only known natural source of the antioxidant
aspalathin, and that it also contains the rare antioxidant nothofagin.
The review refers to several studies that have found that Rooibos
contains polyphenol antioxidants that are potent free radical
scavengers. [Free radicals (unstable molecules that have lost an
electron) can damage the DNA in cells, leading to cancer, and they can
oxidize cholesterol, leading to clogged blood vessels, heart attack,
and stroke. Antioxidants can bind to free radicals before the free
radicals cause harm.] The research captured in this review shows that
fermented Rooibos reduces cancer-associated changes in animal cells
exposed to the chemical mutagens (cancer-causing substances), and also
reduces the cancerous transformation of mouse cells exposed to X-rays.
Rats given free access to Rooibos over a period of 21 months also
showed much lower age-related lipid peroxidation in the brain compared
with rats that drank water. The review concludes that Rooibos
appears to be safe and free of adverse side effects and "may help
protect against free radical damage," which can lead to cancer, heart
attack, and stroke. They add that more research is needed to
confirm that these benefits observed in animal studies are also true in
Reference for review article: Herbalgram, 59, 34 – 45
- Rooibos and
Several animal studies around the world have
confirmed the cancer-fighting ability of Rooibos:
2003 a team of South African researchers from several universities and
research institutions published a comprehensive study confirming that
Rooibos can protect the liver against oxidative
damage and mutagenesis (a change in the cell that may lead to cancer).
Reference for supporting scientific article: J
Agric. Food Chem. 51, 8113 – 8119 (2003)
- Rooibos protects against some forms of
chemically induced liver cancers
in rats: This was the conclusion of a study published in 2003, based on
a collaborative study between researchers at South Africa’s Medical
Research Council and other research organisations.
Reference for supporting scientific article:
Mutation Research 558, 145 – 154 (2004)
- The ability of South African herbal teas (Rooibos and
Honeybush extracts) to act as “chemopreventors” in skin cancer
was also highlighted in an article published in 2005, once again as the
result of the work of a South African research team. They showed that
topical (external) application of the tea fractions significantly
suppressed tumour growth in mice with skin cancer, when using processed
and unprocessed tea.
Reference for supporting scientific article: Cancer
Lett 224, 193 – 202 (2005)
2006 several South African researchers collaborated to compare the
potential of different kinds of tea (Rooibos, honeybush, black oolong
and green tea) to suppress mutations, and thereby prevent cancer. Their
results confirmed that the phenolic compounds in herbal tea extracts
have a strong anti-mutagenic effect.
Reference for supporting
scientific article: Mutation Research/Genetic Toxicology and
Environmental Mutagenesis, Vol 611, 42 –53 (2006)
at the Medical Research Council and Stellenbosch University worked
together to try and understand which compounds in Rooibos are
specifically responsible for its antimutagenic properties. They found
that the antimutagenic potency of the flavonoids in Rooibos is reduced
during fermentation (oxidation).
Reference for supporting scientific article:
Mutation Research 631, 111 – 123 (2007)
ability of Rooibos to scavenge free radicals was confirmed in
collaborative study between researchers in South Africa (Stellenbosch
University and the Agricultural Research Council) and the United States
(University of Mississippi). They also investigated the relative
potency of the different antioxidants in Rooibos and confirmed that
fermentation (or the processing of green Rooibos) decreases its
Reference for supporting scientific article: Food
Research International 37, 133–138 (2004)
- Rooibos as a
treatment for stomach cramps and diarrhoea
that Rooibos is widely used to treat gastrointestinal upsets,
researchers in Pakistan, Canada and Germany joined forces to explore
the mechanism of this effect of Rooibos. Their results, published in
2006, explain the biochemistry of how the flavonoids and other active
ingredients in Rooibos achieve this calming effect on the digestive
system and concludes that it is justified to use Rooibos for the
treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, such as gut spasms.
Reference for supporting scientific article: Basic
and Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology, 99, 365 – 373 (2006).
recommended as a treatment for respiratory disease and to lower blood
on a study published in 2006, researchers at the Aga Khan University
Medical College in Pakistan found a sound basis for the wide medicinal
use of Rooibos. They found that chrysoeriol, one of the bio-active
components of Rooibos, acted effectively as a bronchodilator, with an
associated effect on lowering blood pressure and relieving spasms. They
also state in the article that chrysoeriol is already known for its
antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antimicrobial, antiviral and
free radical scavenging abilities.
Reference for supporting scientific article: Eur J
Nutr, 45, 463 – 469 (2006)
protecting against liver disease
in Slovakia and Japan agreed that Rooibos is a safe and effective
treatment to protect the liver (also known as a hepatoprotector) in
patients with liver disease, mostly because Rooibos is such a rich
source of natural antioxidants. They found that Rooibos offers specific
protection when the liver is already damaged or experiencing oxidative
stress. They published their results and made this recommendation,
based on a study of the effect of Rooibos on the antioxidant status of
the liver in a rat study.
Reference for supporting scientific article: Physiol.
Res. 53, 515 – 521 (2004)
restoring immune function
teams at the Okyama University in Japan demonstrated that the active
ingredients in a Rooibos extract restored immune-function in
immune-suppressed rats. These results hold significant potential
future research into the immune-boosting properties of Rooibos that
could potentially benefit people living with HIV/AIDS.
References for supporting scientific article: Biosci.
Biotechnol. Biochem. 65 (1), 2137 – 2145 (2001) and
Biosci. Biotechnol. Biochem 71 (2), 698 – 602 (2007)
- Rooibos as an
by the wide range of beneficial properties of Rooibos, Japanese
researchers have also studied to potencial of Rooibos to delay the
effects of ageing. They recently demonstrated its anti-ageing effect in
a study with Japanese quails. These birds were given Rooibos to drink
and also had ground Rooibos added to their food. The hens on the
Rooibos diet laid more eggs and kept on laying eggs as they were
getting older, compared to quail hens on a standard diet.
Reference for supporting scientific article: British
Poultry Science, 49 (1) 55 – 64 (2008)
protecting red blood cells
inhibits free radicals in the blood stream and prevent them from
destructing red blood cells. This was shown in a joint study between
researchers in Japan and Slovakia, published in 2000. They used
Japanese quails for this in vivo study and found that a boiled water
extract of Rooibos, fed to the quails, protected red blood cells
against hemolysis (breaking up of red blood cells).
Reference for supporting scientific article: Gen. Physiol. Biophys. 19,
365 – 371 (2000)
- Rooibos may help
to fight allergies
researchers at Showa University found that when Rooibos is consumed
regularly as a beverage, it helps to improve allergy status, by
boosting the production of Cytochrome P450, an important enzyme in the
liver and many other tissues that helps to metabolise allergens.
review of the bioactivity of South African herbal teas, published by
researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Centre on Aging in
Washington DC during 2003, confirms that Rooibos and Honeybush differ
in composition, but share potentially beneficial activities in
laboratory studies. Several animal model studies are quoted showing
that both herbal teas possess potent antioxidant and immune-boosting
components, and that both can protect against cancer-causing chemicals.
Reference for supporting scientific article: J
Pharmacol Sci 103, 214 – 221 (2007)
- Rooibos and
honeybush: Protective partners
Reference for research review article: Phytother. Res.
21, 1 – 16 (2007)
Please click this link to learn more about Rooibos
the Red bush tea.
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