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.

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.


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.



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


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


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.



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.



Chrysoeriol, an antioxidant in Rooibos, can prevent and treat vascular disease in people. This is the latest findings from scientists in Japan where Rooibos has been extensively researched in the past 20 years.

Chrysoeriol, an antioxidant in Rooibos, can prevent and treat vascular disease in people. This is the latest findings from scientists in Japan where Rooibos has been extensively researched in the past 20 years.

Chrysoeriol is able to inhibit the migration of smooth muscle cells inside the aorta, a key cause of atherosclerosis (narrowing or hardening of the arteries), according to new findings published in the Journal of Pharmacological Science . The research was done on human aorta cells. They recommend the use of chrysoeriol to prevent and treat the repeated narrowing of blood vessels following coronary angioplasty. During angioplasty a small balloon is used to open up a blocked or narrowed heart artery.

The characteristics and bioactivity of the complex mix of compounds in Rooibos are being studied by several research groups around the world. Chrysoeriol is already known for its antioxidant, cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties.

“Although chrysoeriol is not the most abundant antioxidant in Rooibos, we are now beginning to understand its other properties that may contribute to the overall health benefits of Rooibos,” Professor Jeanine Marnewick, specialist researcher at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology commented after reviewing these latest findings from Japan. “As scientists unravel the health contributions of the complex mix of compounds in Rooibos, we are finding more and more evidence to substantiate the traditional uses of Rooibos as a remedy for a variety of ailments.”

These latest findings follow on earlier work done at the Aga Khan University Medical College in Pakistan where researchers first found that the chrysoeriol in Rooibos has a bronchodilatory effect. They found that it helps to decrease muscle spasms in blood vessels and lung airways and recommended its use as a remedy for congestive airway disorders such as asthma. Their findings and recommendations were published in the European Journal of Nutrition in 2006.

NOTE: Cardiovascular disease is a leading killer worldwide and in South Africa. According to data from the Medical Research Council close to 200 people die in South Africa every day as a result of some form of heart or blood vessel disease. About half of these people are younger than 65 years.



International and local celebrities such as golfer Gary Player, supermodel Cindy Crawford, acclaimed actor Sir Anthony Hopkins, actress Lerato Moloi, and singer James Morrison all love Rooibos. Even President Jacob Zuma is a fan!

Rooibos is internationally renowned for its versatility and numerous health benefits, but did you know that the herb which grows exclusively in a small area in the Cape has a major celebrity following? International and local celebs such as golfer Gary Player, supermodel Cindy Crawford, acclaimed actor Sir Anthony Hopkins, actress Lerato Moloi, singer James Morrison, and Duran Duran front man Simon Le Bon all love Rooibos and its unique properties. Even President Jacob Zuma is a fan – when asked what would be the first thing he did in office, he simply replied “Drink a cup of Rooibos tea with honey and lemon!”
Rooibos has also found its way into books with Precious Ramotswe, the lead character in Alexander McCall Smith’s best-selling series The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, saying “This is a tea for people who really appreciate tea. Ordinary tea is for anyone”. In the books Ramotswe always serves Rooibos tea to her clients and guests. A television mini-series, now available on our screens, has been adapted from the books, which is set to make Rooibos even more famous.
The Rooibos brand has a strong following even in countries as far away as Canada where a local band, The Stills, have titled one of their songs “Rooibos”, after the lead singer’s fondness for the tea.
Some Hollywood A-listers that recognize the varied uses and benefits of Rooibos are Catherine Zeta Jones and Angelina Jolie. At the wedding of Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas, they served Rooibos flavoured ice-cream. Angelina Jolie’s perfect pout is lathered with a lip balm that boasts Rooibos and a variety of other unusual ingredients.
Oprah Winfrey is another Rooibos fan. In a recent interview with celebrity doctor, Mehmet Oz, she said “I love Rooibos tea because it’s decaffeinated.”
The South African Rooibos Council says “We are very proud of this trend-setting treasure of ours.” Rooibos seems to be gaining in popularity daily. In South Africa alone, there are well over 20 million cups of Rooibos tea drunk every year. Rooibos even has a loyal following on Facebook with over 4000 fans and group members.


Rooibos has tremendous health-boosting properties – particularly for the liver, which takes a beating over the festive season. Scientists found that the antioxidants in Rooibos help to protect liver cells against free radicals and help damaged liver tissue to regenerate.

New Year’s Eve is upon us and that means it’s time pop the corks and raise a glass to 2016. But if you are one of the many who overindulge on the big night, it may hearten you to know that recovering from a hangover is easy when you understand the basics.

It’s actually the dehydrating effect of alcohol that is the major cause of a hangover, so a tried and tested way to prevent that morning attack of dry-mouth and headache is to rehydrate your body with liquids. But rather than reaching for ordinary tap-water, why not enjoy a cup of Rooibos tea instead? Besides being a refreshing and delicious water substitute, Rooibos also has tremendous health-boosting properties – particularly for the liver, which takes a beating over the festive season.

Scientists have found that the antioxidants in Rooibos help to protect liver cells against free radicals and also help damaged liver tissue to regenerate. They therefore recommend long-term use of Rooibos to prevent liver problems, but also to treat liver diseases.

Our overindulgence over the festive season prompts many a New Year’s resolution to look after our bodies’ better, increase our exercise levels and eat a healthier diet. We suggest that this New Year, when South African pride is running high on the eve of the Soccer World Cup, that you pledge to drink six cups of Rooibos tea a day for maximum benefit. Rooibos forms the perfect base for a healthy diet and lifestyle and offers many additional benefits, such as anti-ageing, cancer prevention, reducing anxiety, and more.