Benefits of Rooibos Tea

December 4, 2015
Healthy rooibus tea traditional south africa antioxidant beverage with spices on vintage wooden table in rustic style

Recently, I spotted a pack of rooibos tea on sale in one of the health food stores around me. It was then I remembered the post-graduation thesis topic of my friend. As a doctoral student, he submitted a complete in-depth thesis on the health benefits of rooibos tea with detailed research. Today, I can’t wait to share all the supernatural effects of this wonderful herbal product, which belongs to the legume family of plants. This herbal tea is prepared from the leaves of the rooibos plant.
Rooibos (pronounced as ROY-boss) is indigenously grown in South Africa 1) and is also called “the red bush of Africa” 2) as it turns red after fermentation. The botanical name of rooibos is Aspalathus linearis.

Now the good news for you is that rooibos tea is completely caffeine free and a low-tannin beverage! Therefore, it is a good alternative to black tea, coffee, cocoa and high-caffeine drinks 3)

Nutritional Value of Rooibos Tea

Rooibos tea is a refreshing beverage, which contains an extraordinary diversity of nutrients. It is a rich source of two unique antioxidants, aspalathin and nothofagin 4) with many anti-inflammatory effects, which we will discuss later in this article. According to experts, rooibos tea has 50% more antioxidant capacity than green tea. It is also a rich source of vitamin C 5)
Natural organic rooibos in a cup and pile of rooibos tea. Tisane tea without caffeine isolated on white background.
Going further, rooibos tea is tightly packed with plentiful minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium, copper, fluoride, manganese, zinc, magnesium and alpha hydroxy acid 6) A high mineral content of rooibos tea helps to treat various nervous system disorders, bone and teeth ailments, and metabolic disorders. It is also proven that the nutritional composition of rooibos tea is naturally tailored in such a way that it optimizes the absorption of other available nutrients as well 7)h

A research study published in the South African Medical Journal 8) explains this better. According to this study, the vitamin C content of rooibos tea leads to a higher percentage of iron absorption in the body than ordinary tea.

Nowadays, rooibos tea is becoming popular in the Western countries as well due to its peculiar fruity taste and enormous medicinal properties. Let us move further to see the positive health effects of this splendid drink.

Antioxidant Activity of Rooibos Tea

In recent years, a lot of research has been focused on free radical chemistry. First, let us see what free radicals are and how they affect our health? In our day to day life, oxygen mediates several essential chemical reactions in the body. However, some amount of oxygen creates cell-damaging molecules called free radicals. Think of these free radicals as “toxic by-products” of oxygen-mediated reactions in the body. These free radicals attack healthy cells, leading to various diseases and accelerated aging. Antioxidants, on the other hand, are protective substances that tend to neutralize these toxins. Therefore, a proper balance between free radicals and antioxidants is required for normal health and aging 9)

Rooibos tea contains a natural powerhouse of antioxidants called “polyphenols”. These polyphenols protect our body from the cell damage caused by free radicals and help us ward off deteriorating diseases like Parkinson’s disease and certain types of cancers 10)

Research also claims that processing rooibos tea by methods of fermentation, sun drying, steam pasteurization, and sieving causes reduction in the total phenolic content of the product 11) Hence, it is advised to have organic unprocessed rooibos tea gives the optimum health results.

Heart Friendly and Anti-Hypertensive Effects

You must be aware of the fact that stress and a sedentary lifestyle are the contributory factors for hypertension and heart diseases such as atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. The South African tea, rooibos has emerged as a heart-friendly herbal solution that exhibits cardioprotective effects. Results of a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology 12) showed that consumption of rooibos tea improves lipid profile and prevents cell damage in adults.
Researchers at the Linköping University, Sweden conducted two separate studies 13) 14) to show that drinking rooibos tea leads to a significant inhibition of Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) and therefore reduces hypertension. ACE otherwise indirectly increase the blood pressure by constricting blood vessels 15)

Anti-Diabetic Effects of Rooibos Tea

Aspalathin, a rare antioxidant found in rooibos tea, has an exclusive quality of balancing our blood glucose level, thus improving insulin resistance and boosting insulin secretion from the pancreas. An animal study published in the Phytomedicine journal in 2009 16) proved that consumption of rooibos tea stimulates glucose uptake in muscle cells and increases insulin secretion from the pancreas. Another animal study in 2012 17) showed that the aspalathin content of rooibos has glucose-lowering potential.

With the fact that anti-diabetic effects of rooibos have been demonstrated in animal models till date, more human studies are warranted in this area for concrete results.

Rooibos Tea for Liver

Liver is one of the vital organs in our body. It processes all the nutrients we intake, purifies the blood, and generates energy by actively taking part in glucose metabolism. Liver ailments involve inflammation and degeneration of liver cells 18) A research study published in the Physiological Research journal 19) validates the hepatoprotective effects of rooibos tea in the diet of patients with liver diseases.

Rooibos Tea for Asthma

Asthma is a lung disease that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways. In the United States, more than 25 million people are known to have asthma 20) A flavonoid compound, chrysoeriol, present in rooibos tea has bronchodilator and antispasmodic properties. It is proven to have therapeutic benefits in congestive respiratory ailments 21) like asthma. So, drinking rooibos tea on a regular basis may do the trick for you and save you from this dreadful condition.

Rooibos Tea: A Bundle of Minerals

Cup of tasty rooibos tea, on old white wooden table
One of the key benefits of rooibos tea lies in its high mineral content that is vital for our health. Rooibos tea is a rich source of calcium, manganese and fluoride, which are all essential for teeth and bone health. The high magnesium content of rooibos is good for nervous system function, whereas, zinc promotes immunity and iron increases blood and oxygen supply all over the body 22)

Rooibos Tea for Stomach Upset

Stomach pain and upset are usually caused by infection, inflammation or indigestion. So, here is a simple remedy for your upset stomach! Just gulp down a cup of rooibos tea and get relief from upset stomach and colicky pain. This little herb contains a flavonoid named quercetin, which imparts anti-inflammatory effects and soothes the stomach cells 23) 24)

Rooibos Tea for Insomnia, Headache and Irritability

Do you have a hard time falling asleep? Do you have constant headaches and feel irritable throughout the day? Then here is a solution for you. Sit back and enjoy a cup of caffeine-free rooibos tea before going to bed. It will help you relax, calm your tensions and improve your sleep patterns 25)

Rooibos Tea for Skin Allergies

Often we face skin allergies with eczema, rash, and itching. Consuming the “red bush of Africa”-rooibos tea- can have significant anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects. The phenolic content of rooibos tea alleviates allergies like eczema, hay fever, and allergic bronchitis 26) by increasing the generation of interleukin 2 cytokine and suppressing interleukin-4 cytokine 27)

Rooibos Tea for Premature Aging

None of us like to look prematurely old. We always want to be perceived younger than our age. So, the antioxidants present in rooibos tea are a magical gift to all who want to stay young. The results of a research study 28) showed that the aspalathin content of rooibos increases stress resistance and promotes longevity by up-regulation of insulin-like cell signal pathway. Another animal study conducted in Japan 29) showed that rooibos tea prevents age-related accumulation of lipid peroxides in the brain, which slows down your brain as you age. Rooibos tea also has anti-aging effects in terms of improving cognitive ability, concentration and focus 30)

Rooibos Tea for Skin Rejuvenation

Healthy rooibus tea traditional South Africa antioxidant beverage with spices on vintage wooden table in rustic style
The cosmetic industry is flooded with various medications, skin creams and surgical treatments. These remedies are not only expensive but may also damage our skin if not used correctly. Among such harmful therapies, rooibos tea has emerged as a novel treatment approach for skin rejuvenation. The alpha hydroxy acid and zinc present in rooibos 31) are a boon for skin health. A study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science 32) states that consumption of rooibos tea significantly reduces wrinkles and other signs of skin aging.

Rooibos Tea for Weight Control

And last but not the least comes the slim-down secret of rooibos tea! This wonder herb helps you achieve your weight loss targets. Rooibos tea is a low-calorie drink that contains only 2 calories per 8-ounce. Additionally, this pleasant flavored beverage is naturally sweet, so there is no need to add sugar to it. It is a proven acceptable alternative for sugary juices, high-calorie sodas, and other energy drinks. Therefore, rooibos tea keeps your weight in check 33)!

Are There Any Safety Concerns for Rooibos Tea?

Apparently rooibos tea is safe to consume and is free of any side effects. But more extensive research is needed in this area 34) As rooibos tea is known to have estrogenic activity, cancer patients on chemotherapy, pregnant women and people on hormonal medications are advised to consult their health care providers before adding rooibos tea into their dietary regimen 35)

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References   [ + ]

26, 30, 31, 35.