More than R2 Million for local rooibos research in 2012

Exercise, stress, ageing, cancer and obesity are some of the lifestyle challenges that feature prominently in the South African Rooibos Council’s R2 million research budget this year.

In addition to these health-focused projects, several more researchers will receive funding to explore the chemistry, composition and flavour profile of this unique African herbal tea, or to advance organic and environmentally friendly Rooibos farming.

The research is led by prominent, independent researchers at South African universities and science councils.

“The new knowledge generated by these research projects is of huge value to the industry,” says Mientjie Mouton, chair of the SARC’s product research committee. “In an increasingly competitive and regulated global market, it is becoming more and more important to substantiate centuries of anecdotal evidence about the health benefits of Rooibos with hard scientific facts.”

The South African Rooibos Council awards grants to local researchers, but encourages them to collaborate with experts around the world.

“Due to the growing interest in the health properties of natural products and specifically herbal teas, there are many more top biochemists around the world investigating Rooibos,” Mouton explains.

“During the past few years we have seen exciting and promising results about Rooibos and topics such as heart health and diabetes emerging from Sweden, Italy, Spain and Germany. Locally, SA Rooibos Council funding has contributed to major advances in our understanding of the health-promoting properties of Rooibos – specifically its ability to slow down and prevent various forms of cancer, as well as its potential to protect heart health in individuals at risk of cardiovascular disease.”

25.01.12, Cape Town

Rooibos tea could be a good way to prevent kids overheating

As children go back to school for the last term, warmer weather means mothers packing lunchboxes should give some thought to hydration.

Ensuring children get enough of the right kinds of liquids, particularly during the hot summer months, can be as important as making sure they’re properly fed. Mild or moderate dehydration can lead to sleepiness or tiredness and even headaches and dizziness, making it difficult to pay attention in class. In more severe cases delirium or even unconsciousness can occur.

But packing a water bottle isn’t always a guarantee that children are going to drink enough to compensate for fluids they lose while trying to cram as much fun as possible into break times.

The problem is that water can be bland and tasteless, particularly after a couple of hours in a plastic water bottle, so children simply don’t drink it or pour it out. The alternative is to add some sort of cordial and while this may make it more appealing not all of these are particularly healthy options. Nor are fizzy drinks and buying a fruit juice each day can be costly.

Fortunately there is a South African solution that’s affordable, tasty and amazingly beneficial – rooibos tea.

Although many people tend to think of rooibos as only a hot drink, it is an exceptional flavour enhancer and naturally sweet, which makes it a favourite ingredient for iced teas, fruit shakes, smoothies, iced lollies and many other tasty treats.

Add to this that it contains no caffeine, fats or carbohydrates and its proven health benefits include boosting the immune system, relieving allergies and preventing heart disease and cancer. Researchers are also investigating the link between rooibos and stress relief.

According to Professor Jeanine Marnewick of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, rooibos is a natural thirst quencher and drinking the equivalent of six cups a day – hot or cold – will provide a sustained health benefit.

Making a simple rooibos iced tea is easy. Simply make a litre of rooibos tea using four to six teabags. Sweeten the tea with honey to taste and leave it in the fridge to cool overnight. You can then experiment with this basic iced tea, adding mint, lemon, orange, granadilla, mango or apple or a combination of flavours until you find one that your children really love. You can even get them involved in mixing their own flavours.

Juiced or squeezed fresh fruit usually deliver the best results, but you can also use preservative-free fruit juice. Mixing it with cold rooibos will make it go further and keeping a jug of the children’s favourite iced tea in the fridge should mean you don’t have to keep buying juice.

The good news is that once you’ve made up a jug of iced tea you don’t have to repeat the performance every evening as cold rooibos can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks.

By pouring some iced tea into popsicle containers or ice-cube trays and freezing it, you can also make fun, refreshing, healthy after school or sports treats.

R50m state funding to boost exports of processed agricultural products including rooibos

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson says that government has allocated R50 million…

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson says that government has allocated R50 million… to promote local agro-processing businesses. The investment will target specific sectors including rooibos, soya, beverages, fruit and vegetables and forestry. The aim is to increase the export of processed agricultural products and increase access to markets for smallholder farmers.

Some two years ago the Dutch Government funded a SA Rooibos Council project to explore ways to improve rooibos’ export competitiveness. Based on the recommendations the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation, funded marketing campaigns in Dubai and Taiwan to introduce rooibos to some new, established tea-drinking markets.

Called NTFII (Netherlands Trust Fund) also supported the development of a new strategic plan for the rooibos industry.

Top endurance athlete recommends rooibos over energy drinks

Writing for Do It Now magazine, endurance athlete Hannele Steyn, warns that many over-hyped energy products are ‘just glorified sweets that have added hype ingredients to push the price sky high’.

Steyn, who has represented South Africa in numerous endurance World Championships (1 x duathlon, 2 x biathlon, 3 x triathlon, 4 x mountain biking, 3 x road cycling) 11 Triathlon World Cups and nine Mountain Bike World Cups and whose CV includes a ladies Cape Epic win and two more pages of achievements, should know what she’s talking about after 25 years of competitive racing. She believes that for endurance athletes healthy, natural foods are a better option than sugary, artificial energy bars and sweet drinks.

She recommends rooibos espresso, with almond milk, a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of salt. The result is an energy drink with lots of rooibos antioxidants. The honey delivers fast energy, while the almond milk delivers slow energy in the form of protein and essential fats. Himalayan salt provides minerals. The SA Rooibos Council is funding a research project into rooibos and exercise, which is being conducted by Professor Jeanine Marnewick at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Rooibos as a cure for smelly feet?

Scientists have found that rooibos can prevent and slow down cancer, reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, boost the immune system and ease stomach cramps but now a Cape Town doctor is suggesting it might also help prevent smelly feet.

Responding to a reader’s query in the Cape Argus, Dr Darren Green, suggests that rooibos tea soaks may help to give smelly feet the boot.

SA Rooibos Council scientific advisor, Marina Joubert, says the contention makes sense as there is scientific evidence that rooibos can relieve allergies and soothe skin disorders.

Rooibosdag fokus op noodsaaklikheid van navorsing en nuwe maatreëls vir die bedryf

30 Mei 2013, Clanwilliam

Sowat 100 boere en ander rolspelers in die rooibosbedryf het die jaarlikse navorsingsdag van die SA Rooibosraad, wat op 30 Mei op Clanwilliam gehou is, bygewoon. Aanbiedings oor navorsing wat reeds onderweg is en nog beplan word, het die belangrikheid van navorsing vir die volhoubaarheid van die bedryf onderstreep.

Mnr Willem Engelbrecht, rooibosboer en voorsitter van die Raad, het ook van die geleentheid gebruik gemaak om produsente in te lig oor die belangrike besluit wat hulle eersdaags moet neem oor die voortbestaan van die Rooibosraad. “Die Raad is aanvanklik op ‘n vrywillige basis deur bydraes van die bedryf befonds, maar hierdie stelsel is nie volhoubaar nie en dit het al hoe moeiliker geword om die heffings in te vorder,” het hy gesê. “Die direksie het daarom ‘n mandaat gegee om statutêre maatreëls te ondersoek en aan die bedryf voor te lê.” Ingevolge hierdie maatreëls sal daar verpligte heffings wees, maar so ‘n stelsel kan net ingestel word indien ten minste twee derdes van die bedryf dit ondersteun.

Mnr Adam Christiaans (links) en Mnr Martin Bergh (regs) is albei rooibospioniers wat al baie lank in die bedryf is. Christiaans, van die Niewoudtville-omgewing, boer al 27 jaar met rooibos en woon elke jaar die navorsingsdag by. Op 83-jarige ouderdom is hy een van die oudste aktiewe rooibosprodusente. “Rooibos is ‘n interessante plant, daar is altyd iets nuuts,” sê hy. “Mens moet saam met die navorsers stap soos nuwe inligting kom, ander raak jy agter.” Bergh is die besturende direkteur van Rooibos Bpk en voorsitter van die Raad se produksienavorsingskomitee. Hy stem saam dat navorsing van kritiese belang is en nie onderhandelbaar is nie. “Rooibos is ‘n klein bedryf uniek aan Suid-Afrika en daarom kan ons nie navorsingsoplossing oorsee gaan soek nie,” het hy verduidelik. “Ons is bevoorreg om ‘n kern van baie kundige en gevestigde navorsers te hê wat met groot passie vir die bedryf werk.”

Mnr Adam Christiaans (links) en Mnr Martin Bergh (regs) is albei rooibospioniers wat al baie lank in die bedryf is. Christiaans, van die Niewoudtville-omgewing, boer al 27 jaar met rooibos en woon elke jaar die navorsingsdag by. Op 83-jarige ouderdom is hy een van die oudste aktiewe rooibosprodusente. “Rooibos is ‘n interessante plant, daar is altyd iets nuuts,” sê hy. “Mens moet saam met die navorsers stap soos nuwe inligting kom, ander raak jy agter.” Bergh is die besturende direkteur van Rooibos Bpk en voorsitter van die Raad se produksienavorsingskomitee. Hy stem saam dat navorsing van kritiese belang is en nie onderhandelbaar is nie. “Rooibos is ‘n klein bedryf uniek aan Suid-Afrika en daarom kan ons nie navorsingsoplossing oorsee gaan soek nie,” het hy verduidelik. “Ons is bevoorreg om ‘n kern van baie kundige en gevestigde navorsers te hê wat met groot passie vir die bedryf werk.”

“Dit is iets waarin ons moet glo, nie iets wat ons wil afdwing nie,” het Engelbrecht gesê. Die SA Rooibosraad is in 2005 gestig as ‘n nie-winsgewende Artikel 21 maatskappy. Die Raad is ‘n bedryfsorganisasie wat na gemeenskaplike belange van alle rooibosprodusente, verwerkers en bemarkers omsien. Die Raad is ook verantwoordelik vir die ondersteuning van navorsing van strategiese belang vir die bedryf, asook om die navorsingsresultate toeganklik te maak vir produsente en die breë publiek. Ander aktiwiteite van die Raad sluit generiese bemarkingsveldtogte, inligtingstelsels vir die bedryf en die “Right Rooibos”-projek wat omgewingsvriendelike verbouing bevorder, in.

“Die voorstel op die tafel is vir ‘n inklusiewe, regverdige en ouditeerbare stelsel wat deur almal gedra en gedeel word,” het Engelbrecht verduidelik. “Dis ook geskoei op die beste praktyk wat reeds baie suksesvol deur ander landboubedrywe in Suid-Afrika gevolg word.”

Daar is ook die afgelope paar maande reeds agt ander sessies met produsente, verwerkers en bemarkers gehou. “Daar is wel by hierdie sessies gestem, maar dit was bloot ‘n tipe referendum om ‘n aanduiding te kry van hoe die bedryf voel,” het Engelbrecht verduidelik. Tans lyk dit asof die meerderheid bedryfslede wel ten gunste van statutêre maatreëls is, maar die groot toets lê voor wanneer daar op 31 Julie 2013 by die Raad se algemene jaarvergadering gestem sal word. Engelbrecht het ook daarop gewys dat die bestaande fondse van die Raad teen einde 2013 uitgeput sal wees. “Indien ons nie ‘n nuwe finansieringsmodel kry nie, sal alle aktiwiteite van die Raad tot ‘n einde kom.”

“Rolspelers in die rooibosbedryf moet saam werk om die bedryf te bevorder en die mark uit te bou – plaaslik en wêreldwyd,” glo Engelbrecht. “Ons moet wegkom van interna kompetisie in die bedryf,” het hy bygevoeg, “Ons werklike kompetisie is ander soorte warm en koue dranke.” Die res van die dag is gewy aan navorsers wat aan die produsente verduidelik het waarmee hulle besig is en watter vordering gemaak is.

Dr Justin Hatting van die LNR se navorsing oor die glasvlerkmot, ‘n insekpes wat die rooibosplant aanval en groot skade kan aanrig, is nou afgehandel. Hy het die mees effektiewe middel om die larwe van die mot dood te maak, sowel as die mees omgewingvriendelike manier van toediening ontwikkel. “Ons het bewys dat dit moontlik is om 100% beheer van die glasvlerkmot te kry indien die regte middel op die regte tyd en die regte manier toegedien word,” het Hatting gesê. Die oplossing is nou in die bedryf se hande om te gebruik.

“Dit is die verloop van primêre navorsing,” het Mnr Martin Bergh, voorsitter van die Raad se produksienavorsingskomitee kommentaar gelewer. “Jare gelede het ons nie eers geweet van die glasvlerkmot nie en het ons nie geweet wat die skade veroorsaak nie.”

Die vraag is nie of ons navorsing kan bekostig nie, maar of ons kan bekostig om dit nie te doen nie, het hy bygevoeg.

Hatting se voortgesette navorsing kyk nou na ander insekte – veral die bladspringer. Hy is veral op soek na biologiese metodes om insekte te beheer en ondersoek tans verskeie swamme wat insekte kan verswak en doodmaak. “Dit lyk asof ons baie goeie resultate kan kry deur ‘n spesifieke swam met ‘n klein hoeveelheid insekdoder te kombineer,” het hy verduidelik.

Dr Sandra Lamprecht werk aan ‘n “resep” om gesonde, organiese rooibossaailinge te kweek. Sy soek ook na oplossings oor hoe om gesonde plante te kweek wat na uitplanting sal oorleef – van kritiese belang vir all rooibosboere. Om dit reg te kry, moet verskeie siektes voorkom of behandel word. Lamprecht ondersoek ook die rol van saadbehandeling, kompos en verskeie tussengewasse.

“Ons moet ‘n groot klomp kombinasies toets om uiteindelik die optimale oplossing vir boere te kan gee,” het sy verduidelik. “Dis nie dat ons die navorsing geheim wil hou nie, maar ons moet seker maak dat behandeling jaar na jaar sal werk voordat ons begin resepte uitdeel.”

Lamprecht het reeds meer as 1 000 kombinasies op die proef gestel – in glashuise en veldproewe. Sy is baie opgewonde oor die resultate wat hulle tans kry met die ontwikkeling van ‘n rhizobiuminokulant wat die vorming van wortelknoppies en opbrengs van plantmateriaal bevorder. Haar navorsing wys ook dat bewaringsboerdery ‘n positiewe rol kan speel omdat dit kan help om koolstof terug te plaas in die grond. Dit help ook om die grond koeler te maak en erdwurms te laat vermeerder wat op hulle beurt weer help om die grondstruktuur te verbeter.

Nog ‘n rooibosprojek wat afgehandel is, is ‘n protokol vir die kweek en uitplanting van rooibossteggies. Collette Cronje van Rooibos Bpk het oor die afgelope vier jaar hieraan gewerk en die finale protokol aangebied. Die doel van die projek was om te kyk of dit moontlik is om ‘n klonale moederblok te vestig met geneties identiese plante wat navorsers dan sou kon gebruik om spesifieke middels te toets. “Die grootste uitdaging was om steggies behoorlik te bewortel en om te sorg dat hulle oorleef na uitplanting,” het Cronje verduidelik. “Om rooibossteggies te laat voorplant is amper soos om na ‘n baie klein babatjie om te sien!”.

Mnr Naude Smith, wat deur die SA Rooibosraad befonds word vir sy MSc-studie in grondgesondheid aan die Universiteite van Stellenbosch, het ook die hoogtepunte van sy navorsing kom aanbied. “Ons weet dat produksie afneem na sowat vyf jaar op dieselfde landerye en ons dink dit is omdat die voedingstowwe in die grond uitgeput raak,” het hy verduidelik. Smith ondersoek tans die grondfaktore van lande van verskillende ouderdomme, lande wat nie meer bewerk word nie, asook die samestelling van onversteurde grond waar rooibos wild groei as deel van die natuurlike fynbos.

Prof Pieter Gouws van die Universiteit van Wes-Kaapland kyk na die rol van mikro-organismes in die maak van rooibostee – en veral die rol van melksuurbakterieë tydens fermentasie op die teebaan. Hy vermoed dat hierdie “goeie” bakterieë ‘n groot rol speel in die maak van kwaliteit rooibostee en dat hulle ook help om patogene (organismes wat siektes kan veroorsaak) dood te maak. Hy kyk ook na alternatiewe metodes, byvoorbeeld koue plasmategnologie, wat moontlik die huidige pasteurisasieproses – wat baie duur is en al die melksuurbakterieë ook vernietig – kan vervang. “Daar is ‘n baie goeie kans dat dit kan werk,” het Gouws aan die boere gesê.

Dr Cecilia Bester van die Landbounavorsingsraad het produsente kom vertel van nuwe werk wat sy beplan om deur middel van teling sterker rooibosplante te kweek wat stres, bv droogte en siektes, beter kan hanteer en ook meer, goeie gehalte saad sal lewer. Sy beoog om uiteindelik in die gemeenskap saadboorde te vestig wat ‘n stabiele en volhoubare bron van verbeterde saad sal verseker, en ook werk kan verskaf. “Plantteling is beide ‘n kuns en ‘n wetenskap,” het sy verduidelik, “en soms moet jy op instink staat maak om suksesvol te wees.”

Marina Joubert, navorsingskoördineerder by die SA Rooibosraad, het ‘n vinnige oorsig gegee van ander tipe navorsing wat deur die Raad ondersteun word of wat voortvloei uit werk wat die Raad voorheen befonds het. Dit sluit werk in op die gebied van die voorkoming van kanker en kyk ook na die rol van rooibos in behandeling van lewersiektes, stres en veroudering. Sy het ook vertel van ‘n projek by die LNR en Universiteit van Stellenbosch wat fokus op die sensoriese eienskappe van rooibostee en die verskille in tee wat van verskillende geografiese gebiede afkomstig is.

New evidence that rooibos can protect and support the liver

A recent study at the Oxidative Stress Research Centre, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), has proven the ability of rooibos to improve liver function and protect the liver against oxidative damage.

Photo: Dr Wale Ajuwon preparing a dried green rooibos extract.

Photo: Dr Wale Ajuwon preparing a dried green rooibos extract.

6 June 2013

In this 10-week study, 80 male rats were treated with a liver-damaging chemical known as t-BHP (Tert-butyl hydroperoxide). The study showed that giving these rats access to rooibos (instead of water) helped to protect the liver against structural, enzymatic and biochemical damage, and could even reverse some of the damage already present in the liver. The findings of the study have been published in the journal “Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine”. The full scientific paper is available online at

“These findings provide biological evidence that Rooibos can protect the liver and that it has potential to be used as a supporting treatment for liver disorders,” says Dr Wale Ajuwon, researcher at CPUT, who led this investigation as part of his doctoral study.

“Liver diseases and drug-induced liver injuries are a leading cause of death around the world, and synthetic drugs used to treat liver disorders often cause further damage to the liver,” Dr Ajuwon points out. “That is why it is so exciting to present this evidence that rooibos can be used as a liver protector and an adjuvant therapy for the treatment and management of liver disorders.”

“Although this study was done in animals, they give us insight into mechanisms of what might be taking place in the human body and I believe that they are useful to make recommendations to people.”

Dr Ajuwon came to South Africa in 2010 to study at CPUT. Three years later he is an avid rooibos fan and is now also encouraging his friends and family in Nigeria to have at least six cups of rooibos every day. “I encourage them to drink rooibos, because it is safe and contains a plethora of polyphenolic antioxidants that have been shown scientifically to have beneficial effects,” he says.

Dr Ajuwon studied at CPUT under the leadership of Prof Jeanine Marnewick, one of South Africa’s foremost researchers in the field of rooibos and oxidative stress.

This study was funded by CPUT.

Issued by Meropa, on behalf of the SA Rooibos Council.

It’s official – rooibos is good for your liver

A study proving that rooibos can improve liver function and protect the liver against oxidative damage made headlines this week.

News of the findings by the Oxidative Stress Research Centre at Cape Peninsula University of Technology was carried in a number of print titles and news, lifestyle and trade websites including The Cape Argus, IOL, Health24 and Foodstuffs SA.

Proposed trademark regulation a ‘milestone’ for the Rooibos industry

The publication of proposed regulations to protect the name Rooibos is an important first step in achieving international protection for the iconic South African plant and preventing misuse of the generic name…

The publication of proposed regulations to protect the name Rooibos is an important first step in achieving international protection for the iconic South African plant and preventing misuse of the generic name, says the South African Rooibos Council.

The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), a member of the Department of Trade and Industry published on 12 July 2013 published a notice for public comment in the Government Gazette which proposes regulations to protect the use of the name in terms of the Merchandise Marks Act.

This development is a culmination of the Rooibos Council’s years of research, collating information and lobbying. If approved it will be the first regulation to protect Rooibos for South Africa. The Government Gazette notice coincided with an attempt by a second French company to register Rooibos as part of their trademark.

According to Martin Bergh, a director of the Rooibos Council, the objectives of the regulation are twofold.

South Africa can only apply for international protection against overseas companies attempting to register or copyright the name Rooibos if it is protected locally in the country of origin. The other is to maintain the integrity of the brand by preventing marketers making misleading claims or insinuating that Rooibos is a substantial ingredient in a product if it is not.

“This is the start of a process which will ultimately enable us to apply for Geographical Indicator status, much like Champagne, Darjeeling Tea and Colombian Coffee. This will prevent future instances of overseas companies attempting to trademark the generic brand name for their own exclusive commercial gain,” he says.

Other indigenous products which have been grappling with similar issues of trademark protection are Karoo Lamb and Honeybush.

Dry rooibos and extracts, liquors and infusions of the plant are used in a variety of products including herbal teas, fruit juices and other foodstuffs as well as health and beauty products. It is a popular ingredient in food products because it is a good carrier of flavours and has well-publicised health benefits. Its anti-ageing potential and proven skin protection and anti-allergenic characteristics are amongst the properties which make it attractive to cosmetic manufacturers.

“The Rooibos Council’s mandate is to grow the industry, so these regulations are not intended in any way to inhibit companies from using Rooibos in their products. What we do want to prevent is spurious or misleading claims that products contain Rooibos and by implication deliver its benefits if they do not,” explains Bergh.

The notice clearly states holders of prior trademarks in Rooibos will not be affected by the notice. In terms of the proposed regulations any manufacturer may use the name Rooibos provided they comply with the rules of use as stipulated. If it is comprised of more than 50% Rooibos it can be described as a Rooibos product. If not, it can only claim to contain Rooibos and declaring the actual Rooibos contents on the label.

“The South African Rooibos industry has long been asking for protection of the name Rooibos and these proposed regulations are the first milestone in achieving that. The regulations also seek to ensure that consumers are able to make an informed choice when buying products containing Rooibos.”

Clinical Trials

9 November 2007

The first clinical trial to investigate the health benefits of Rooibos in adults, especially people at risk of developing heart disease, is underway in Cape Town. Forty-one men and women, between 30 to 60 years, are participating in the 14-week trial. The research leader is Dr Jeanine Marnewick, a senior researcher in the Antioxidant Research Group at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). The South Africa Rooibos Council is announcing this study in Cape Town today (9 November 2007) at its first Rooibos Science Café, held at the MTN ScienCentre in Cape Town. The Council co-funds the research on behalf of its industry members…. [Read more on the link below]

Announcement of first clinical trials at Science Café, at MTN ScienCentre, Cape Town, on 9 Nov 2007 (PDF file)

See the press photos of this event on our Photo Gallery , or  Download high resolution press photos (9.9Mb Zip file)