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Rooibos Tea and All It's Health Benefits

Posted in: Conditions, Nutrition, Herbs
By Dr. Pantea Etminan, NHD
Feb 22, 2012 - 12:57:42 PM

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Rooibos tea is made from a bush called Aspalathus linearis, which is a broom like member of legume family of plants. They mainly grow in South Africa, where they indulge in this red drink instead of other types of teas or coffee. As a matter of fact they even utilize it in the espresso machine to make a espresso type drink of it. It is delightful and rich in antioxidants.
The plant itself has green leaves at first and then through fermentation process it becomes red. The green variety is available in some places but more expensive. The red variety, though, is the one that is utilized the most.

Health Benefits

Rooibos has not been found or known in this country until 20th century. Even then it was not understood and utilized much. It is quiet recently that we have came to understand the value of this bush. In Africa it is the choice of drink and is utilized for many of its health benefits.
Rooibos is very rich in antioxidants and have been studied for its cancer fighting qualities. The two beneficial flavonoids with cancer fighting effects are quercetin and luteolin. It also contains other antioxidants such as aspalanthin(has been shown to have anti-mutagenic properties) and nothofagin, (phenolic antioxidant). It posses great anti-inflammatory function as well. Rooibos contain several phenolic compounds:

  • Flavanols
  • Flavones
  • Flavanones
  • Dihydrochalcones

The nutrients of which it contains:

  • Minerals--calcium, manganese, fluoride, zinc, magnesium, potassium
  • Alpha hydroxy acid

What it does not contain:

  • caffeine
  • antioxidant EGCG (Epigallocatechin-3gallate)
  • oxalic acid (which makes it safe for those with kidney stone)

It is low on tannins--good for those with such concern.

What is Rooibos Used For

Traditionally in South Africa rooibos has been used successfully to treat many different issues. Of course, through studies we have found some great health benefits that it offers.

  • Seasonal Allergies
  • Colds
  • Flu (has antiviral activity)
  • Asthma
  • Infantile colic, stomach and sleep issues
  • Digestive complaints
  • Stomach cramps
  • Promotes strong immunity--it is rich in nutrients and antioxidants. It supports production of SOD (superoxide dismutase), one of the body's most powerful antioxidants.
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep (could be helpful with restful sleep)
  • Skin (soothes and moisturizes when applied topically. Also, has anti-inflammatory properties which could help with bruises or cuts)
  • Acne, eczema, sunburn (it contains alpha hydroxy acid and zinc which is helpful for these types of skin conditions, when applied topically)
  • Cardiovascular benefits--have been shown through studies that it inhibited ACE activity, which contributes to vasodilation and vasoconstriction. The only other leaf that has been shown with such effect is the green tea.
  • Lowers Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes--aslapathin, the antioxidant, suppresses the increase in fasting blood glucose levels. It improves glucose tolerance through stimulating glucose uptake in muscle tissue and insulin secretion from the pancreas.
  • Liver disease--contributes to liver tissue regeneration after prolonged intoxication. It could be used for prevention or part of treatment.
  • HIV--rooibos tea extract have been shown to be helpful in antigen specific antibody production by increasing interleukin-2 production in vitro. It could be used in cases of cancer and other infections as well. A study have shown that the alkaline extract of rooibos tea leaves suppressed HIV induced cytopathicity. This effect could only come from the extract, as the tea leaves are not potent enough and does not offer the same benefits.
  • Prevention of brain aging--ALE, advanced lipid peroxidation is harmful to brain and its aging process. Rooibos has shown that it may be able to prevent lipid peroxidation in the brain.
  • DNA--prevents DNA damage

How to Use?

It could be brewed and utilized just like any other tea. In Africa they make "red espresso" with it too. Some like to enjoy it with some frothy warm milk and spices.
A teaspoon of rooibos tea for each cup or even two regular cups would be the typical amount. Brew just like you would any other tea. You could mix it with some other spices, herbs or teas as well. Hot or cold--it is all good eats. Enjoy.

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