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Why Rooibos? by Liezl Compion
You might wonder why is Rooibos so good for you and your family. Made from the rooibos shrubs that grow in the Cederberg, the medicinal value of rooibos is seemingly endless. It is classified as a herbal tea, which means that rooibos is made from “a flowering plant without a woody stem”. Herbal infusions can include flowers, herbs, fruit and spices. These infusions are caffeine-free, unlike all other types of tea.
Rooibos has many proven health properties, but there is still much to be discovered about this unique herbal tea from South Africa. Scientists around the world are investigating its complex composition, chemistry and bioactivity to help consumers understand how Rooibos protects the human body against disease and promotes health and longevity. There are also many benefits for babies and children.
Since the mid-1950s, Rooibos researchers have published well over a hundred articles in peer-reviewed journals. Their main findings to date are summarised below.
What makes Rooibos so unique?
Rooibos contains a complex mix of polyphenols, including the unique antioxidant aspalathin that has not yet been found in any other plant. Rooibos also contains the rare compound nothofagin. Other major phenolic compounds are orientin and iso-orientin, with smaller amounts of vitexin and isovitexin (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2008).
Rooibos alleviates allergies and inflammation
Rooibos helps to improve allergy status by boosting the production of cytochrome P450, a key enzyme that helps to metabolise allergens (Journal of Pharmacological Science, 2007).
Rooibos can both stimulate and suppress the immune response, depending on how it is used. It therefore has the potential to treat several immune-related conditions, ranging from allergic skin conditions to bacterial infections (Journal of Immunoassay and Immunochemistry, 2010).
Rooibos calms stomach cramps
Rooibos is effective in treating stomach cramps and diarrhoea thanks to the calming effect of the flavonoids on the digestive system (Basic Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, 2006)
Rooibos can help to prevent cancer
Rooibos contains powerful antioxidants that have a strong cancer-fighting effect. They prevent or slow down cancer by protecting the DNA in living cells against oxidative damage, or by removing cancerous cells that already have DNA damage. Rooibos may also be able to switch on certain genes that help to break down carcinogens.
Rooibos protects the heart and other vital organs
Drinking six cups of Rooibos per day helps to keep the heart healthy by preventing oxidative damage to the lipids (fat molecules) in your blood, enhancing glutathione (antioxidant of the body) levels and by improving the blood lipid profile. It also reduces total blood cholesterol levels, especially the level of “bad” LDL cholesterol (Phytomedicine, 2011).
Rooibos reduces stress
Rooibos lowers the production of cortisol – the “stress hormone” – in the body, thereby lowering the effect of the body’s stress response (Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2011).
Rooibos shows potential in treating diabetes
Aspalathin – the main antioxidant in Rooibos – helps muscle cells to use glucose more effectively and therefore to maintain normal blood sugar levels in mice with type 2 diabetes (Phytomedicine, 2009).
Rooibos protects against oxidative stress in diabetic rats, and is recommended to prevent and treat diabetic vascular complications (Physiology Research, 2006).
Rooibos protects the liver
Rooibos prevents the development of fatty liver disease – a potentially serious condition where fat accumulates in liver cells (Phytomedicine, 2011).
Rooibos helps damaged liver tissue to regenerate, and is recommended as an effective way to prevent and treat liver disease (General Physiology and Biophysics, 2008).
People can absorb the active compounds in Rooibos
People are able to metabolise (break down) the key antioxidants in Rooibos – aspalathin and nothofagin – but can also absorb un-metabolised aspalathin into the bloodstream. This proof of the bioavailability of Rooibos helps to explain its health-promoting role (Food Chemistry, 2011).
Researchers know of no side effects associated with the use of Rooibos tea, so it can be drunk freely. It is also safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and young children.
So with all these health benefits and a great sweet taste, why not let the whole family enjoy more of our own South African herbal drink, Rooibos.
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