Rooibos Tea

Rooibos Tea: The Incredible Health Benefits of Red-Bush Tea

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Rooibos Tea

Rooibos tea, also known by many as red-bush tea, is a tea that comes from the shrub Aspalathus Linearis, a plant that is only found on the slopes of the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. Locals have been drinking tea made from the plants leaves for hundreds of years but it was only made commercial in 1904.

The tea possesses medicinal properties that are acquired from the Aspalathus Linearis plant. According to the South African Rooibos Council (yes, that exists), rooibos is actually a herb. The fermented tea is red in color and has a mild and aromatic taste.

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Rooibos tea is packed full of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, copper, zinc, potassium, iron, magnesium and manganese. The tea also contains 50% more antioxidants than that found in green tea[1]. This selection of antioxidants includes aspalathin and nothofagin, alongside extremely versatile and potent phenolic compounds [2].

Multiple research studies have been conducted in regards to the medicinal properties of Rooibos tea and many of the attributes have been confirmed by The US Department of Agriculture. The properties include rooibos tea's ability to reduce cancer, heart diseases, premature aging, and multiple other serious conditions.

Another collection of studies has shown that the tea may have the ability to strengthen bones and teeth, preventing osteoporosis and fractures. The tea is also popular in Japan due to its positive effects on the skin and hair.

Rooibos tea is completely free from caffeine and can, therefore, be drunk without limit as it won’t produce any of the jittery unpleasant side effects that correlate with countless other beverages.

This tea is even used by locals as a substitute for milk in colicky babies – the possibilities of rooibos really are endless!

The Health Benefits

  • Anti-inflammatory properties [3,4]: Rooibos tea contains high amounts of polyphenols. These polyphenol antioxidants help to protect the body by fighting and assisting in the elimination of free radicals or unstable cells (that have the potential to become malignant) [5]. The polyphenols in rooibos tea, therefore, also deliver an anti-inflammatory effect. Polyphenols additionally deliver an anti-viral effect, boosting the immune system and helping to prevent viruses such as common colds and the flu.
  • Relieves hypertension and improves cardiovascular health [6]: Rooibos tea is able to work to reduce hypertension. Hypertension is what is commonly known as blood pressure, and it occurs when too much blood is forced against the wall of your arteries. Increased blood pressure will usually lead to the hardening of artery walls, preventing the elastic stretch that would usually accommodate increased blood flow in health. High blood pressure is closely linked to many other conditions including heart disease and strokes. It is estimated by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) that as many as one-third of Americans are suffering from hypertension, so many of us could be benefiting from a daily cup of rooibos tea.
  • Makes breathing easier [7]: Rooibos tea contains a compound that is able to act as a bronchodilator. A bronchodilator is a drug that dilates the bronchi and bronchioles (the tubes leading to your lungs). In doing this, airflow to the lungs is able to increase – the effect is similar to that that inhalers exert on asthmatic individuals. By decreasing the resistance in their airways, drinkers of this herbal tea can often experience a lesser incidence of cardiovascular diseases and, of course, combat symptoms of allergy and asthma.
  • Good for bones and teeth [8]: Manganese, calcium, and fluoride are all minerals found in rooibos tea, all three of these minerals promote the health and strength of our bones and teeth. Manganese operates through a mechanism that stimulates enzymes in the body that build more bone mass and repair damage. Fluoride, which is found in tap water and toothpaste, is effective in the maintenance of healthy teeth. Calcium, the most obvious of the three, is important for the building and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. As a result, rooibos tea is often recommended to help relieve common conditions like joint pain, osteoporosis, and arthritis.
  • Aids digestive health: Rooibos tea is full of antispasmodic agents that act to activate potassium ions in the body. Antispasmodic agents do what the name says – they ease and prevent spasms in the gastrointestinal tract. The mechanism of action involves these agents ‘smoothing out' the muscles of the gut wall. This will help ease stomach cramps, abdominal pain, and aid digestion. The tea has even been listed as a possible natural remedy for IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
  • Helps prevent type 2 diabetes [9]: Aspalathin is another compound contained within rooibos tea. Aspalathin exhibits a hypoglycemic effect on the body. This substance is a rare type of antioxidant that helps to balance out blood sugar levels and reduces levels of insulin resistance in the body. Due to these effects, rooibos tea could do well if recommended to individuals at risk of developing type II diabetes. Aspalathin will prevent the spikes in blood sugar that play a role in the causation of diabetes and increased levels of insulin resistance. If you have a family history of diabetes, rooibos tea could be particularly beneficial for you.
  • Promotes the health of hair and skin [10]: The diverse range of minerals and vitamins found in rooibos tea include several which are important for the health of hair and skin. Consuming rooibos tea on a regular basis may help to increase the speed of hair growth and the strength of those hair fibers. The tea also holds the potential to prevent hair loss and removes dead skins cells that block hair follicles. The anti-inflammatory effects of rooibos tea might also help to relieve the symptoms of dandruff. The alpha hydroxy acid and zinc that are contained in rooibos tea are also very good for the skin. Reports also exist that state the application of the red tea powder directly to the skin could relieve acne, pimples, sunburn and other similar skin conditions.
  • Improves circulation: Many people suffer from poor circulation, resulting in, sometimes painfully, cold hands and feet. Poor circulation can also lead to more serious health issues which include heart attacks. As rooibos tea contains the flavonoid, chrysoeriol – an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties – it is able to aid blood circulation and potentially reduce cholesterol.
  • Treats colic in babies [11]: Rooibos tea has been used for many decades by local South African populations to treat small children who are suffering from colic or stomach pains. For this purpose, sweetened milk can be added to the tea to make it more palatable for young mouths. The exact mechanisms by which rooibos tea supposedly soothes colic are unknown, but it is likely that the anti-inflammatory properties of the herb could be held responsible.
  • Treats allergies [12]: Rooibos tea is used in many parts of South Africa as an effective treatment for allergic conditions such as eczema, hay fever, and allergy-related bronchitis. As previously mentioned, the anti-inflammatory qualities of the tea are present in the phenolic content, meaning it is sometimes prescribed for asthma and topical allergic reactions.
  • Anti-aging properties: The fact that rooibos tea is so rich in antioxidants [13] means that it can slow the aging process and boost immune strength. Antioxidants seek out and eliminate free-radicals that are responsible for damage to the hair, skin, bones and other organs. As rooibos tea is more potent in its antioxidant content than almost all other beverages [2], it is well worth adding a cup a day to your schedule. The tea also shows some evidence of anti-aging effects in terms of cognitive ability. It has been noted by some studies that rooibos tea consumption can reduce the impact of oxidative byproducts in neural pathways, thus stimulating concentration and focus.
  • It’s a great beverage: It might not seem like the most important feature after the extensive list above, but rooibos tea is an excellent and enjoyable choice of drink! This beverage can be enjoyed both hot and cold, it all depends on your individual preference. The absence of caffeine [14] means that it makes a great warm drink for before bed and you can also drink the tea cold to quench your thirst on hot summers days.

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With all these benefits and all this versatility – why haven’t you already got a box of rooibos tea leaves in your cupboard?

Bibliography

[1] Von Gadow, Astrid, Elizabeth Joubert, and C. F. Hansmann. “Comparison of the antioxidant activity of rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) with green, oolong and black tea.” Food Chemistry 60.1 (1997): 73-77.
[2] von Gadow, Astrid, Elizabeth Joubert, and Chris F. Hansmann. “Comparison of the antioxidant activity of aspalathin with that of other plant phenols of rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis), α-tocopherol, BHT, and BHA.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 45.3 (1997): 632-638.
[3] Baba, Haruna, et al. “Studies of anti‐inflammatory effects of Rooibos tea in rats.” Pediatrics International 51.5 (2009): 700-704.
[4] Bramati, Lorenzo, et al. “Quantitative characterization of flavonoid compounds in rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) by LC− UV/DAD.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry50.20 (2002): 5513-5519.
[5] Bosek, P., and M. Nakano. “Hepatoprotective effect of rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) on CCl 4-induced liver damage in rats.” Physiological Research 52.4 (2003): 461-466.
[6] Persson, Ingrid AL, et al. “Effects of green tea, black tea and Rooibos tea on angiotensin-converting enzyme and nitric oxide in healthy volunteers.” Public health nutrition 13.5 (2010): 730-737.
[7] Khan, Arif-ullah, and Anwarul Hassan Gilani. “Selective bronchodilatory effect of Rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) and its flavonoid, chrysoeriol.” European journal of nutrition 45.8 (2006): 463.
[8]Hardcastle, Antonia C., et al. “Associations between dietary flavonoid intakes and bone health in a Scottish population.” Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 26.5 (2011): 941-947.
[9] Kawano, Atsutoshi, et al. “Hypoglycemic effect of aspalathin, a rooibos tea component from Aspalathus linearis, in type 2 diabetic model db/db mice.” Phytomedicine 16.5 (2009): 437-443.
[10] Tiedtke, Jane, and Olaf Marks. “Rooibos-The new” white tea” for hair and skin care.” Euro Cosmetics 10.6 (2002): 16-19.
[11] Erickson, Laurie. “Rooibos tea: research into antioxidant and antimutagenic properties.” HerbalGram 59 (2003): 34-45.
[12] Hesseling, P. B., and J. R. Joubert. “The effect of rooibos tea on the type I allergic reaction.” (1982).
[13] Bramati, Lorenzo, Francesca Aquilano, and Piergiorgio Pietta. “Unfermented rooibos tea: quantitative characterization of flavonoids by HPLC− UV and determination of the total antioxidant activity.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 51.25 (2003): 7472-7474.
[14] Morton, Julia F. “Rooibos tea, Aspalathus linearis, a caffeineless, low-tannin beverage.” Economic Botany 37.2 (1983): 164-173.


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About the Author Amanda Roberts

Amanda is a gym instructor and a diet and nutrition fanatic that has reviewed 100s of supplements for the benefit of consumers. She struggled with obesity 7 years ago and after losing more than 30lbs, dedicates most of her time in helping others achieve similar results and transform their lives.

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