ROOIBOS HEALTH RESEARCH IN THE SPOTLIGHT AT FIRST EVER ROOIBOS SCIENCE CAFÉ

12 November 2007

The first clinical trial to determine the potential health benefits of Rooibos in adults at risk of heart disease was announced in Cape Town on Friday 9 November 2007. More than 150 guests, including several science journalists and health writers, attended South Africa’s first ever Rooibos Science Café at the MTN ScienCentre in Canal Walk Mall. The event was hosted by the South African Rooibos Council, a co-funder of some of the research projects.

The clinical trial on Rooibos is run by Dr Jeanine Marnewick, a senior researcher in the Antioxidant Research Group at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. A panel of researchers joined Dr Marnewick to present their findings on Rooibos health research, based on work done in the laboratory. The presentations were followed by a lively discussion with the audience about Rooibos and health.

Dr Marnewick emphasised the following health benefits, already known and proven for Rooibos.
– It is naturally caffeine free;
– It has a low tannin content;
– It has a unique mix of antioxidants;
– It has powerful antioxidant and cancer-fighting properties;
– It protects living cells against oxidative stress;
– It can slow down the development of skin cancer.

To date Rooibos health research focused on laboratory work and animal studies. The challenge now is to verify these health benefits in people.

Dr Marnewick and her team decided to focus on the potential benefit of Rooibos in heart disease, because it is one of the top five causes of death in South Africa. She outlined the clinical trial in which 41 adults are participating (including herself). This pioneering study focuses on the potential of Rooibos to protect against oxidative stress and inflammation associated with the development of heart disease in people. Each participant in the trial has one or more risk factors for developing heart disease, but not at a level requiring medication. Examples of these risk factors include raised serum cholesterol levels, pre-hypertension, overweight/obesity, inactive lifestyle or a family history of coronary heart disease.

During a 16-week period participants had to follow a restricted diet to exclude other antioxidants as far as possible. Their food and drink intake, as well as blood test results, were closely monitored during the trial. During a key part of the study the participants drank six cups of Rooibos per day. At other times they drank mainly water and beverages without significant antioxidant content. The researchers will now compare their test results for these different periods. Results are expected by mid 2008.

Rooibos health research at the MRC

In her presentation on research about the antimutagenic (cancer-fighting) properties of Rooibos, Dr Kareemah Gamieldien of the Medical Research Council (MRC) also elaborated on the extensive range of anecdotal evidence about the health benefits of Rooibos. These include that Rooibos is an effective antidote for vomiting, stomach cramps, lack of appetite and chronic restlessness. Many people also believe in the anti-ageing, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties of Rooibos. She told the audience how she bathes her own baby daughter in Rooibos tea, because she found that it helped to soothe and relieve skin conditions, including eczema, but this local knowledge must still be proven in the lab.

MRC researchers already have evidence confirming that Rooibos protects against DNA damage and oxidative damage in living cells, and that Rooibos can significantly reduce the number and size of skin tumours. Their current research focuses on the ability of Rooibos to slow down and possibly treat skin cancer and cancer of the oesophagus. So far they have confirmed that traditional and green Rooibos can significantly reduce the number and size of papillomas (cancerous growths) in laboratory rats. They also grow human skin and oesophageal cancer cells in the laboratory and have found that that Rooibos inhibits cancer by interfering with the energy production in cancer cells, thereby slowing down the growth of these cells. The overall results show that green Rooibos is an even more powerful anti-cancer agent than traditional Rooibos. Based on these encouraging results, the team is now working on a Rooibos-based skin product to treat skin cancer.

What happens to Rooibos in the body?

Debora van der Merwe, a doctoral student in Food Science at Stellenbosch University, presented her research on what happens to the active ingredients of Rooibos in the body and why it is important to know?

She explained that increasingly sophisticated consumers and international markets require the anecdotal evidence about the health benefits of Rooibos to be backed up by scientific evidence. They are therefore focusing on finding out whether the antioxidants in Rooibos are absorbed, and whether they are metabolised (or changed) in the body. Metabolism can make these active compounds more effective or less effective as antioxidants, depending on the changes that take place. If the antioxidants are not absorbed, they cannot contribute to antioxidant activity in the body.

Rooibos contains a rare phenolic compound, called aspalathin. To date, aspalathin has only been found in Rooibos, contributing to its uniqueness. Aspalathin is a potent antioxidant in test tube studies, but the team is now looking for evidence of its antioxidant activity in the body. Her research to date already showed that aspalathin can be metabolised by the liver. This research will form the basis of future trials investigating the importance of aspalathin as a health promoting compound.

Rooibos questions

The science café concluded with a session where the audience could engage with the researchers and debate some questions around the health benefits of Rooibos. For this session, two senior researchers with years of Rooibos research to their credit joined the panel. They were Professor Wentzel Gelderblom of the MRC and Professor Lizette Joubert of the Agricultural Research Council. Some of the key points from the Q&A session:

– While the antioxidant activity of Rooibos may be lower than that of black tea, Rooibos has the significant health advantage of being naturally caffeine free.
– Because Rooibos is low in tannin compared to black tea, it does not bind iron to the same extent as black tea. Some more research is needed to determine the extent to which the polyphenols in Rooibos may also bind iron.
– Research abroad showed that Rooibos can protect the liver and is recommended for people with chronic liver problems. More research is needed on its possible anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties.
– There is no conclusive evidence yet about whether adding milk to Rooibos tea will affect its antioxidant activity in the body. Researchers investigating this issue for black tea found varying results.

The Rooibos Science Café is an initiative of the South African Rooibos Council to make research on the health benefits of Rooibos widely accessible. The Council co-funds some of the research on behalf of its industry members. Funding also comes from CANSA, the Medical Research Council, the Agricultural Research Council and the National Research Foundation in South Africa.

– END –
Issued by:
South African Rooibos Council
Enquiries: Soekie Snyman; Mobile: 082-6497077; Email: ssnyman1@telkomsa.net

ROOIBOS FINDINGS TO BE ANNOUNCED

18 November 2008

When: Wednesday 26 November 2008, 10:00 for 10:30
Where: MTN ScienCentre, Canal Walk Mall, Cape Town

At the Rooibos Science Café on 26 November 2008, the preliminary findings of a clinical trial designed to determine whether Rooibos reduces the risk of heart disease development will be announced.

The trial (entitled “Modulation of blood oxidative stress markers by Rooibos in volunteers at risk for coronary heart disease”) was conducted by Dr Jeanine Marnewick, senior researcher at the Oxidative Stress Research Centre at Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town South Africa.

Forty men and women between 30 and 60 years old participated in the study. Each participant had two or more of the following cardiovascular disease risk factors: raised cholesterol, raised blood pressure, smoking, increased body mass index (BMI 20 – 35) and/or family history but did not need any oral medication for these conditions. The actual risk of each participant was determined using a calculation based on the well-known multi-year Framingham heart disease trial based on the patient’s age, gender, smoking status, blood pressure, triglycerides and HDL cholesterol (so-called “good cholesterol”). A person with two major risk factors has a risk of heart disease or stroke six times as great as a person with no risk factors. With three factors, the risk of cardiovascular disease is 20 times as great.

Participants had to drink six cups of Rooibos per day for six weeks, with the six cups spread across the day. In order to maintain a high degree of consistency, the preparation was standardized as 2% weight of dried Rooibos to volume of water. Each cup consisted of 200 ml boiling water added to one Rooibos tea bag, brewed for five minutes before drinking. Subjects drank the Rooibos with or without milk and/or sugar, as previous research on green and black teas (from the tea plant, Camellia sinensis) have demonstrated that milk does not eliminate the increase in plasma antioxidant activity in humans. 1 (The class of beneficial antioxidant chemicals found in Rooibos, black and green tea, and chocolate are called flavonoids; the flavonoids in Rooibos are different from those in tea and chocolate.) The six-cup amount of Rooibos consumed by participants in this trial was based on a human trial published in 2003 where the consumption of 6 cups of green tea increased the antioxidant capacity in the blood of human subjects.2

In a study of this type, it is important to modify the diet of participants in order to remove the consumption of other flavonoid-rich foods which may confuse the study results. To do this, the participants were requested to omit flavonoid-rich beverages (red wine, black or green tea and/or herbal teas, coffee, fruit juices, etc.) and to restrict flavonoid-rich foods (grape products, citrus fruits and their juices, berries and their juices, apples, onions, broccoli, etc.) from their diet for two
weeks before initiation of the intervention study. (Analysis of participants’ fasted blood samples taken after this period served as a baseline standard to help determine the extent of participant compliance with the study guidelines.)

Funding for this study came from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, National Research Foundation (Technology and Human Resources for Industry – THRIP – project), and the South African Rooibos Council.

The results of this clinical trial will now be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Also on the menu at the Rooibos Science Café is a presentation by Dr Carl Albrecht of CANSA on ten years of research on the anti-cancer properties of Rooibos, as well as a honeybush overview by Professor Lizette Joubert of the Agricultural Research Council.

Issued by the SA Rooibos Council

RSVP & enquiries: Marina Joubert, 083409 4254; marina@southernscience.co.za

References
1. Leenen R, Roodenburg AJ, Tijburg LB, Wiseman SA. A single dose of tea with or without milk increases plasma antioxidant activity in humans. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2000;54(1):87-92.
2. Rietveld A, Wiseman S. Antioxidant effects of tea: evidence from human clinical trials. J Nutr. 2003;133(10):3285S-3292S

Issued by:
South African Rooibos Council
Enquiries: Soekie Snyman; 082-6497077; Email: ssnyman1@telkomsa.net
Interviews: Dr Jeanine L Marnewick, CPUT
Tel: 021-460 8314; Fax: 021-460 3193; Mobile: 082-8979352; Email: MarnewickJ@cput.ac.za

Background information on Rooibos science and industry: www.sarooibos.org.za

REDUCE YOUR CANCER RISK WITH ROOIBOS

4 FEBRUARY IS WORLD CANCER DAY

February 2009: Statistics show that one in four South Africans will be affected by cancer in his or her lifetime, and according to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), this disease will be the leading cause of death globally in 2010. With 12 million new cases of cancer diagnosed last year alone, the pressure is mounting to better understand the development of cancer and ways in which you could protect yourself against it. Rooibos, a tea grown exclusively in South Africa, may just hold some of the answers.

“We have been investigating the effect of Rooibos on various kinds of cancer for years and have been able to prove the benefits of Rooibos in preventing or slowing down different kinds of cancer,” says Dr Jeanine Marnewick of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology who also worked on Rooibos and cancer at the Medical Research Council (MRC) for many years. “We have found that Green Rooibos, the unfermented version of the tea, significantly inhibits the growth of cancer cells, and that traditional Rooibos also achieves this effect, albeit at a slightly lower rate.” Dr Wentzel Gelderblom, an authority on cancer chemoprevention using herbal teas, continues to lead this research effort at the MRC.

In 2008 a leading, international research journal (the Journal of Ethnopharmacology) published a 37-page review of more than fifty years of Rooibos research. It confirms that Rooibos is a great source of flavonoid antioxidants which have many positive effects. “Oxidative stress plays a role in the development of a whole range of diseases, including cancer, strokes, heart and liver disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s,” explains Dr Marnewick.

Dr Carl Albrecht, Head of Research at CANSA, says that CANSA is impressed with the ongoing Rooibos research which it supports financially. “We believe that there is a strong case to be made that Rooibos could help to prevent cancer. This has been shown in animals and we look forward to similar work in humans in the future. In this regard it is very promising that it has been shown that six cups of Rooibos per day have significantly increased the body’s own anti-oxidant, called glutathione, in humans. Glutathione is known to prevent cancer.”

Cancer develops in different stages. When a living cell is excessively exposed to external factors like cigarette smoke, alcohol, the sun, pesticides, chemicals, viruses or even a high fat or high salt diet, its DNA may be damaged. These external factors are known as mutagens, and the process is called mutagenesis. With even more exposure to these external factors, the cell may lose its ability to control the growth process and thus becomes a cancer cell. If the exposure continues, the cancer cell can start to multiply and form a mass of cells, called a tumor.

Dr Marnewick explains that Rooibos protects against cancer in different ways:
1. Rooibos reduces cancer-associated changes in cells by protecting them against DNA damage or mutagenesis. Rooibos contains quercetin, luteolin and orientin – potent anti-oxidants that scavenge free radicals that damage the DNA of the cells. Rooibos’ anti-oxidants bind to the free radicals and inactivate them before they can cause damage.
2. Rooibos may prevent a cell with damaged DNA from becoming a cancerous cell.
3. Rooibos may prevent cancerous cells from multiplying into masses and creating cancerous tumors.
4. Rooibos increases the level of natural anti-oxidants in the liver, which means that the liver’s anti-oxidant status is improved.
5. Rooibos also helps the liver to get rid of compounds that can cause cancer.

Cancer is one of the most feared diseases of our time. It is therefore excellent news that uniquely South African Rooibos, a product that is widely available and very affordable, can play such an important role in cancer prevention. On top of its cancer-fighting properties, Rooibos also helps to fight heart disease, skin irritations, irritability and many more ailments.

About South African Rooibos Council & Rooibos
The Rooibos Council was established in April 2005 as a non-profit organisation to promote the interests of the South African Rooibos industry locally and internationally – including all products manufactured from Rooibos. South Africans have been enjoying Rooibos for generations, but not just for the refreshing taste… one of the major selling points in SA and aboard is its natural goodness and heath benefits. Find out more about its history and health properties at www.sarooibos.org.za.

Researchers to contact for media interviews

Dr Jeanine Marnewick
Manager: Oxidative Stress Research Centre Cape Peninsula University of Technology Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences
Tel: +27 21 460 8314
Mobile: +27(0)828979352
Email: MarnewickJ@cput.ac.za

Dr Carl Albrecht
Head: Research
Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA)
Tel: +27 21 976 5389 (home office)
Mobile: +27(0)84-208 5150
Email: calbrec@iafrica.com

ROOIBOS WONDER TEA FINALLY GETS ‘SCIENTIFIC NOD’ FOR CARDIAC BENEFITS

Medical Chronicle, January 2009, Page 8
By Greer van Zyl

The health benefits of Rooibos have been proclaimed for a number of years. Now in the first scientifically validated work on Rooibos and heart disease, researchers in the Cape Peninsula have found that the herbal tea is particularly effective at reducing oxidative damage to lipids, thus helping to prevent or slow down atherosclerosis.

The clinical trial by Dr Jeanine Marnewick, and her team at the Oxidative Stress Research Centre at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, also generated the first human safety data in a controlled clinical trial envi- ronment, scientifically showing that short-term consumption of Rooibos is safe for the liver and kidneys, while keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels in a normal range. The researchers measured the effect of Rooibos by examining two markers which are indicators of oxidative lipid damage, namely conjugated dienes (CDs) and malondialdehydes (MDAs). They found a decrease of nearly 35% in CDs in the blood of the Rooibos-drinking participants and a 50% decrease in MDAs. Oxidative damage in lipids is regarded as an important step in the development of atherosclerosis. CDs are formed during the early stages of oxidation, while MDAs are oxidation end products of polyunsaturated fatty acids that cause defects in protein synthesis and enzyme inactivation in human cells.

Patients with coronary artery disease usually have a higher MDA level than normal. Forty men and women aged between 30 and 60 years, each with two or more risk factors for developing heart disease, participated in the study by drinking six cups of Rooibos per day for six weeks. (The six-cup amount was determined by a trial of green tea consumption in 2003, which increased the antioxidant capac- ity in the blood of human subjects.1) The tea was brewed for five minutes before drinking, with or without milk and/or sugar. The participants were required to remove other flavonoid-rich foods from their diets to ensure the health effects could be ascribed to Rooibos only. “We also monitored oxidative stress by measuring the ratio of oxidised vs reduced glutathione (GSH) in the blood. Our results show a significant improvement – and therefore decreased risk of heart disease – in the study participants,” explained Dr Marnewick.

She is preparing to submit the work to an international peer-reviewed journal, and will pursue the research by examining genetic dif- ferences between the study participants to as- to Rooibos. In the field of cancer research, she will investigate how the bio-active compounds in Rooibos prevent DNA damage, and how Rooibos impacts on stress levels by measuring changes in cortisol in the blood. Mientjie Mouton, director of the SA Rooibos Council’s product research portfolio, hopes the results of the study will help increase the relevance of Rooibos as a safe and affordable way to reduce heart disease in SA. “We are committed to investing in world- class research in order to verify where and how Rooibos is most effective and how people can benefit from this unique South African product,” she said during the launch of the results at the Rooibos Science Café in Cape Town. Head of research of the Cancer Associa- tion of SA (CANSA), Dr Carl Albrecht, also presented 10 years of research done with the Medical Research Council on the anti-cancer properties of Rooibos which was funded by CANSA to the tune of R1m. “Indications are strong that Rooibos may also have anti-cancer properties due to the rais- ing of GSH which has been shown to protect against cancer. Rooibos doubled the GSH levels in the participants of the heart disease study,” he told Medical Chronicle. Funding for the heart disease study came from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, the National Research Foundation, and the SA Rooibos Council.

Reference
1. Rietveld A, Wiseman S. Antioxidant effects of tea: evidence from human clinical trials.

ROOIBOS FOR LIFE – AND GREAT SKIN!

10 MARCH 2009

From the majestic mountains of the Cedarberg comes a plant so rich in antioxidants, alpha hydroxy acids, zinc and a myriad of other substances known for their soothing, healing and anti-ageing properties, that cosmetics houses the world over have incorporated it into their ranges. Rooibos offers an amazing, all-natural formula to promote clear and healthy skin while acting like a shield against environmental influences that are to blame for premature skin ageing. Although the uses of Rooibos have been passed down through the generations, the benefits that this herb offers are no longer merely anecdotal, much research has been done into this magical plant and the natural healing powers that it possesses.

Here are just a few useful beauty tips from the South African Rooibos Council to enhance your beauty regime:

Wash your face with cold or lukewarm Rooibos tea instead of water; it is a great alternative skin freshener.
Rinse dark hair with strong Rooibos to give it a beautiful shine or use as a leave-in for lighter hair to provide a slight reddish tint to your colour.
Treat tired and sensitive eyes to a rinse with lukewarm Rooibos or wipe out eyes gently with a face-cloth dipped in lukewarm Rooibos for instant relief from sore eyes of any kind. Alternatively, you can also hold cold Rooibos tea bags over your eyes to relieve your tired or red eyes.
The following face-mask method has proven a saviour to many an acne sufferer: take half a cup of strong, plain Rooibos tea (fairly warm); add half a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar; add 2 teaspoons of oatmeal (NB – if you’re allergic to oatmeal, use a gluten-free flour); allow the mixture to cool until it’s lukewarm; apply it over your face and neck; lie down and relax for about 15 minutes; rinse off with lukewarm plain Rooibos tea, then press to dry.
If you have itchy or burning skin, then after a cleansing bath, wipe off your affected skin with a face-cloth moistened in Rooibos tea; press gently to dry (NB – do not rub, as this will only make the itching/burning worse). Alternatively, you can also add a few Rooibos tea bags to your bath water to sooth your skin.
If you suffer from eczema, bathing the affected skin areas in Rooibos tea or applying it with cottonwool can provide soothing relief.

“Many of the unique anti-ageing and anti-allergic properties of Rooibos may be attributed to the unique blend of potent antioxidants found in Rooibos,” says Dr Jeanine Marnewick, researcher at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. “Researchers in South Africa and Japan were able to prove that Rooibos has the ability to delay ageing, preserve fertility and, when applied externally, could even reduce and slow down skin cancer.”

So in short, Rooibos can be used for achieving healthy skin; delaying the signs of ageing; the treatment of acne, eczema, sunburn and tired eyes; while offering shine for hair and even protecting your hair colour. And these are just some of the cosmetic benefits. There is a long and varied list of benefits offered by Rooibos, including the prevention of life threatening diseases like cancer and heart disease, providing relief from stomach problems, assisting with detoxing, and even helping with anxiety or depression.

 

ROOIBOS – THE SOUTH AFRICAN LULLABY

For generations Rooibos tea has been used among South African mothers as a supplement to breast-milk and is often referred to as “nature’s healing hand” – due its remarkable ability to cure and soothe. If your little one suffers from colic, insomnia, food allergies, stomach cramps or eczema, Rooibos tea may be the perfect answer to your problems.

This phenomenon was discovered accidentally in 1968 when one day Dr Theron, a frantic mother with a crying baby in her arms, searched for a quick way to warm her baby’s bottle. She added some warm Rooibos tea to it and fed it to her baby. To her profound surprise the baby stopped screaming and actually went to sleep peacefully and happily. She went on to help literally hundreds of colicky and allergic babies using Rooibos tea as a supplement to both breast, formula or cow’s milk. She recounted her experiences in a book called, “Allergies: an amazing discovery”.

Now over four decades of mothers’ hands-on experience is backed by scientific research into the healing properties of Rooibos, and international recognition for its ability to soothe infants. Dr Kareemah Gamieldien, a former Senior Researcher at the Medical Research Council, proudly tells how she bathed her baby in Rooibos to soothe away her skin allergies, “It’s something that has been passed down the generations and I found that it provided a noticeable anti-inflammatory action”.

By mixing some Rooibos tea with expressed breast milk or formula, you can make all the difference to your baby. Rooibos supplements the daily intake of calcium, manganese and fluoride needed by growing children for strong teeth and bones, while its zinc and magnesium contents promote a healthy skin and a well-developed nervous system. Being a caffeine free and low tannin beverage, Rooibos is also highly recommended for babies with digestive troubles as it benefits the digestive system, calms your child and promotes untroubled sleeping patterns. When applied directly to the skin, in liquid form, it relieves irritation from nappy rash, eczema and itching.

Rooibos is also believed to stimulate the development of milk in the breasts and pass on minerals and vitamins to the baby either through the milk or through the blood during pregnancy. Mothers themselves can also benefit from drinking Rooibos tea. During pregnancy and breast feeding the body’s iron levels could become depleted. Tannins in regular teas can strip you of up to one third of your diet’s iron – which can leave you with chronic fatigue. With Rooibos, this is not the case. Pregnant women can drink Rooibos throughout the day without increasing nausea and heartburn, and because it is caffeine-free, this tea can be drunk in unlimited quantities and will not disrupt sleeping patterns.

Rooibos is 100% natural, harmless and nutritious, with no colorants or preservatives. Babies and tots tend to love the naturally sweet and aromatic flavour, especially when served as iced tea to replace acid-containing fruit juices or carbonated soft drinks.

Tips for Moms:
– How to Prepare Rooibos tea for your baby:
Add Rooibos tea bags to water (strength at your discretion), bring to the boil to extract maximum goodness; cool off & pour into sterilised baby bottle(s). For extra strength, tea bags may be added to bottle(s) and left there. Sweeten with honey or brown sugar. Feed on demand.
– Weaning Your Baby onto Rooibos:
While its sweet taste should appeal to your infant’s newly-formed taste buds, like all good things, Rooibos tea can take a little getting used to. As you know, patience and perseverance are the only remedies for the junior palate. But when it comes to Rooibos, it’s well worth the wait.

 

ROOIBOS – A SOUTH AFRICAN HERITAGE

21 July 2009

Just like boerewors, braais, melktert and biltong, Rooibos tea has become part of South Africa’s way of life and is considered by many as our national beverage. Grown exclusively in the Cape Province’s Fynbos region, this unique South African plant is recognised across the world for its contribution to a healthy lifestyle, its many health properties, versatility and refreshing taste.

In June 2008 Reader’s Digest South Africa celebrated 60 years of publishing in South Africa by featuring 60 reasons for us to remember why South Africa is unique. Reason 7 read, “Best Bush. Rooibos is a uniquely South African tea now exported all over the world”. There is no alternative source of supply anywhere in the world. Rooibos’ exclusivity of growth in South Africa is a natural heritage that certainly calls for recognition.

In 1999, when the Rooibos brand was under threat by American businesses wanting to trademark the name, the argument was that Rooibos tea is part of the heritage of this country. To protect the Rooibos trademark, the South African Rooibos Council, with the support of the Western Cape’s Departments of Agriculture, and Economic Development & Tourism, as well as the University of Pretoria, is working on securing Geographical Indicator (GI) certification so that Rooibos can only be called Rooibos if it comes from the Fynbos region (just like Champagne and Parma ham).

For centuries, Rooibos tea was consumed by locals of the Cederberg region who were the first to have discovered that the needle-like Rooibos leaves can be used to make a refreshing brew that enhanced health. Generations of South Africans have since been aware of the health properties and versatility of Rooibos.

Today, these qualities are also being embraced by a rapidly growing number of loyal Rooibos drinkers internationally. Many varieties of Rooibos teas are available in grocery, specialty and natural food stores throughout the US, Canada, Europe and Japan. The Japanese have shown particular interest in this tea, and have named it “Long Life Tea” because of its anti-ageing properties, and continue to carry out research into its properties and benefits.

In Malaysia, there is a museum that was established in honour of Rooibos. The “Dr Nortier Rooibos Museum”, opened in June 2000, is named after Dr Le Fras Nortier, a South African medical doctor who promoted the agricultural potential of Rooibos to the world. The museum showcases the history, production and uses of Rooibos, as well as some of the cultural history of South Africa, especially of the Cape Malays.

Many people in South Africa don’t know that Rooibos is unique to our country and even fewer people know that it is actually part of our famous Fynbos kingdom. We as South Africans should be very proud of this special plant of ours and should honour it as a uniquely and proudly South African resource that makes a generous contribution towards our economy. Why not brew a pot of Rooibos to celebrate this Heritage Day?

About South African Rooibos Council & Rooibos
The Rooibos Council was established in April 2005 as a non-profit organisation to promote the interests of the South African Rooibos industry locally and internationally – including all products manufactured from Rooibos. South Africans have been enjoying Rooibos for generations, but not just for the refreshing taste… one of the major selling points in SA and abroad is its natural goodness and heath benefits. Find out more about its history and health properties at www.sarooibos.org.za

LONGEVI-TEA

Nowadays people are looking for natural ways to stay young and healthy for longer. Rooibos tea contains a unique blend of antioxidants that is likely to slow down the ageing process by helping to prevent damage caused by excessive free radicals in our bodies.

Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that are produced during normal processes in the human body and fulfil an important role in the life cycle of normal cells. However, at excessive levels, free radicals can damage cells and can cause several diseases including arthrosclerosis, diabetes and even cancer.

As we get older, our bodies’ ability to regulate free radicals decrease. Environmental factors such as pollution, sunlight, cigarette smoke and herbicides can also lead to the over production of free radicals.

“This is where the antioxidants in Rooibos can help – they can help to control the excessive production of free radicals by inactivating them before they cause damage,” says Professor Wentzel Gelderblom, a specialist scientist and cancer researcher at South Africa’s Medical Research Council. “But”, he adds, “for a long and healthy life the benefits from Rooibos must be part of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle.”

Rooibos is the only known natural source of a unique and potent antioxidant called “aspalathin”, and it also contains the rare antioxidant “nothofagin” along with many other complex substances, known as flavonoids. “We think that it is the mix of flavonoids in Rooibos that protects against the excessive forming of free radicals inside living cells,” Professor Gelderblom explains. “That is why drinking Rooibos as part of a healthy diet is a better idea than taking antioxidants in capsule form.”

Some of the research on the anti-ageing properties of Rooibos has been done in Japan, where Rooibos is also known as – “long life tea”. Although getting older is inevitable, drinking several cups of Rooibos every day may help you stay younger and live a disease-free life for longer.

Rooibos in naturally caffeine free – make it part of your defence against ageing and enjoy it as often as you like.
To learn more about this uniquely South African herb and its diverse uses and benefits, visit www.sarooibos.org.za

ROOIBOS RELIEF FOR ALLERGY SUFFERERS

Rooibos can help fight allergies by boosting the production of Cytochrome P450, an important enzyme that helps to metabolize allergens, according to Japanese researchers.

SUMMERTIME AND THE LIVING IS EASIER WITH ROOIBOS

Summer is on its way bringing with it warm weather, beautiful flowers, freshly cut grass and bared skin. While these are some of the things that we look forward to, for allergy sufferers they can have negative side-effects such as runny noses, nasal congestion, post-nasal drip, itchy eyes and skin irritation. Home-grown Rooibos may offer relief and help make your summer more carefree.

Rooibos can help fight allergies by boosting the production of Cytochrome P450, an important enzyme that helps to metabolize allergens. Japanese researchers at Showa University have found that when Rooibos is consumed regularly as a beverage, it helps to improve allergy status as a result of the increased levels of this enzyme in the body. In Japan, herbal teas such as Rooibos are widely used to prevent and relieve pollen allergy, asthma and other chronic allergies.
Many Rooibos lovers have found that they can use their favourite herb in a number of ways to treat the symptoms of allergies. Some suggestions include:
– To help alleviate runny noses and hay fever simply take lukewarm Rooibos tea in the cup of your hands and slowly draw the liquid into your sinuses, hold it for a few seconds, release it and gently blow your nose.

– Treat itchy and sensitive eyes to a rinse with lukewarm Rooibos. Dab eyes gently with a face-cloth soaked in lukewarm Rooibos for instant relief from irritated eyes. Alternatively, you can also hold cold Rooibos tea bags over your eyes to relieve your tired or red eyes.

– Eczema and itchy or burning skin can be soothed by adding a few Rooibos tea bags to your bath water, by rinsing the affected skin areas in brewed Rooibos tea, or by applying the cooled Rooibos on the affected area with cottonwool or a facecloth (NB – do not rub, as this will only make the itching/burning worse).

By going the natural route you can save money on expensive medications, and because it is gentle and nontoxic, it is safe for children to use, making it the perfect allergy solution for your whole family.

 

FEELING STRESSED? A ROOIBOS TEA-BREAK MIGHT JUST HOLD THE CURE

Researchers at Stellenbosch University have found scientific evidence in support of the ability of Rooibos extracts to counter the negative side effects of stress.

Think about how often you hear people say “I’m stressed” – a phrase that has become one of the most common clichés in modern life. With the current recession affecting most households, stress levels seem to be escalating at a galloping pace. The importance of relaxation and finding remedies to soothe away the ailments associated with stress is a no-brainer, but with the busy lives we lead these days, finding time for this is often a challenge. The good news from Rooibos? Sipping a cup of relaxing, caffeine-free Rooibos tea can do just this.

Researchers at Stellenbosch University have found scientific evidence in support of the ability of Rooibos extracts to counter the negative side effects of stress. “We have found that Rooibos extracts inhibit the biosynthesis of the stress hormone, cortisol,” says Dr Amanda Swart, senior lecturer and natural plant products researcher at the Biochemistry Department. “This is good news, as the stress we experience chronically on a daily basis leads to abnormally high cortisol levels. High cortisol levels are associated with increased anxiety, high blood pressure, suppressed immunity and diabetes.”

People don’t realise the extent to which stress plays havoc with the Central Nervous System, which links to our health, emotions, well being and the overall functioning of our body on a day to day basis. According to studies conducted in South Africa and Japan, Rooibos has shown to have a remarkable calming and soothing effect on the Central Nervous System and can play a role in relieving health problems such as insomnia, irritability, headaches, nervous tension, hypertension and stress.

It’s so ironic that when people feel stressed they often have a caffeine containing drink, but studies show that caffeine only worsens a sensitive Central Nervous System, having the opposite effect to Rooibos, which is naturally caffeine free. So, next time you’re feeling stressed, brew some Rooibos tea, savour the taste, and relax as the tea goes about doing its job – healing your body and mind.