The savvy extreme adventurer, Bear Grylls, has saved his own hide from many a treacherous situation, but the well-known TV host may be surprised to learn just how handy our homegrown Rooibos tea can be in an emergency.
Adele du Toit, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council says Rooibos (Aspalathus Linearis), which only grows in the Cederberg region of the Western Cape, has become a health phenomenon as news of its beneficial effects have spread in the past few years.
“While most think of it as just a tea, Rooibos is a multi-purpose survival tool that can help you stay hydrated, deal with aches and pains and keep you focused and alert in a crisis.”
If you’re planning to get off the beaten track to escape the busy tourist trail these holidays, discover the remarkable benefits of the tea and why it’s a must for your first aid/survival kit:
Tea bags are excellent for starting a fire in an emergency if you don’t have tinder. The dried tea contained in the bag is highly combustible.
In the summer heat, excessive sweating can easily lead to dehydration. Rooibos tea can help you hydrate quickly as it contains polyphenol antioxidants, including flavonoids and phenolic acids that are potent free radical scavengers and has purported benefits for accelerated rehydration.
Aches and Pains
Nothing ruins a holiday quite like a nasty tummy bug. If you’re experiencing nausea, indigestion or bloating, drinking Rooibos tea may help to ease symptoms. The tea contains antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce inflammation. Its anti-spasmodic compounds help to ease tummy aches and pains by activating potassium ions in the body.
Soaring temperatures, swimming and spending hours in the sun, can cause eczema flare-ups in summer. Warm and humid weather often lead to more sweating, which aggravates the condition. Research shows that Rooibos tea can soothe skin irritations and help improve dermatological conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis, due to the high level of flavonoids, which encourages the body to destroy unwanted pathogens. The tea is also hypoallergenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, which means it can be used on the most sensitive of skin types and can treat and alleviate inflamed skin and bacterial infections too. You can drink the tea and/or soak in a bath of Rooibos to relieve symptoms.
Sunburn, rashes, blisters and insect bites
Scientific studies have validated the health properties of Rooibos on skin, thus if you or your children are badly sunburnt, have blisters or are seeking relief from insect bites or rashes, turn to Rooibos for help. It’s the abundance of polyphenols or antioxidants in the tea, which gives it its restorative power.
Soaking in a lukewarm bath of Rooibos two to three times a day or applying it as a warm compress to the affected area will help to accelerate the healing of the skin. It can also reduce the pain of pinkeye (conjunctivitis) – a common holiday ailment.
Minor cuts and nosebleeds
Haemostatic powders and dressings are an important part of first aid kits and helps to clot and absorb blood when you’ve sustained a deep cut. But, due to the high cost associated with these powders, tea bags are often used in its place. It’s the tannin in tea that turns it into a coagulant (blood clotting agent), which helps to dry blood on smaller wounds. While Rooibos has a lower tannin content than black tea, it may come in handy if no commercial haemostatics are available. Soothe bleeding gums by biting down on a tea bag or use a dry tea bag to stop a nosebleed.
It’s typical to run yourself ragged over the holidays, which can affect your sleep. If you’re struggling to sleep, a cup of Rooibos tea before bedtime can provide a calming effect to help you slip into slumber.
“Rooibos is a natural product that can be used to treat minor ailments in the young and old, so be sure to pack a box, along with other first aid essentials, such as plasters, antihistamine tablets and cream, disinfectant, antibacterial cream, paracetamol, insect repellent, tweezers and a thermometer, to ensure a safe and stressless holiday.
“Who knows, once Bear gets wind of Rooibos’ utility, he may just mention it in his next blockbuster survival guide,” says du Toit.