Parts Used & Where Grown
Rooibos is a nitrogen-fixing shrub native to South Africa. Its leaves are fermented and sun dried for use as a tea.
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3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
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This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
Refer to label instructions
Rooibos is traditionally used as a tea as a digestive aid.
Rooibos is traditionally used as a tea as a digestive aid. Unfortunately, no clinical trials have yet been published on this herb, so its efficacy is still unknown. Typically 1 to 4 teaspoons (5 to 20 mg) of rooibos is simmered in one cup of water (236 ml) for up to 10 minutes. Three cups of this tea can be drunk per day.
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
Rooibos is a pleasant-tasting beverage that has been used traditionally to sooth digestion and relieve stomach cramps, colic, and diarrhea. Rooibos tea has also been used to relieve allergies and eczema, and to slow aging.
How It Works
How It Works
Rooibos is completely caffeine free and, unlike black tea (Camellia sinensis), does not contain tannins that may interfere with iron absorption. Rooibos is rich in flavonoids, polyphenols, and phenolic acids (including aspalathin, (+)-catechin, isoquercitrin, luteolin, quercetin, rutin, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, and vanillic acid). The polyphenol aspalathin is unique to rooibos. The plant also contains oligosaccharides, polysaccharides, and a variety of minerals, though at levels that are of questionable clinical relevance.1
Preliminary studies show that rooibos has antimutagenic and antioxidant properties.2 , 3 , 4 , 5 It has also shown some ability to prevent radiation damage in animals.6 , 7 , 8 This research somewhat supports rooibos’s traditional use to slow the aging process, and its modern use as a cancer preventative. Laboratory and animal studies indicate that it affects antibody production and has anti-HIV activity.9 , 10 , 11 These studies raise the possibility that the herb could be useful in aiding deficient immune responses in allergies, AIDS, and infections. No clinical trials have yet been published on this herb, however, so its efficacy is still unknown.
How to Use It
A tea can be made by steeping 1 to 4 teaspoons (5 to 20 grams) of rooibos in 1 cup (240 ml) of water for up to ten minutes. Three cups of this tea per day may be drunk, with or without food.12
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
Interactions with Medicines
As rooibos has not been studied scientifically in humans, there is no information available about its safety in pregnancy or lactation or in people with kidney or liver failure. However, it is generally considered a very safe herb, and there are no known side effects, contraindications, or drug interactions.13
1. Duke JA, Bogenschutz-Godwin MJ, duCellier J, et al. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs, 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2002.
2. Standley L, Winterton P, Marnewick JL, et al. Influence of processing stages on antimutagenic and antioxidant potentials of rooibos tea. J Agric Food Chem 2001;49:114–7.
3. Van Gadow A, Joubert E, Hansmann CF. Comparison of the antioxidant activity of rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) with green, oolong and black tea. Food Chem 1997;60:73–7.
4. Inanami O, Asanuma T, Inukai N, et al. The suppression of age-related accumulation of lipid peroxides in rat brain by the administration of Rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis). Neurosci Lett 1995;196:85–8
5. Sasaki YF, Yamada H, Shimoi K, et al. The clastogen-suppressing effects of green tea, Po-Lei tea and Rooibos tea in CHO cells and mice. Mutat Res 1993;286:221–32.
6. Shimoi K, Hokabe Y, Sasaki YF, et al. Inhibitory effect of rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) on the induction of chromosome aberrations in vivo and in vivo. ACS Symp Ser 1994;547:105–13.
7. Shimoi K, Masuda S, Shen B, et al. Radioprotective effects of antioxidative plant flavonoids in mice. Mutat Res 1996;350:153–61.
8. Komatsu K, Kator K, Mitsuda Y, et al. Inhibitory effects of Rooibos tea, Aspalathus linealis, on X-ray-induced C3H10T1/2 cell transformation. Cancer Lett 1994;77:33–8.
9. Kunishiro K, Tai A, Yamamoto I. Effects of rooibos tea extract on antigen-specific antibody production and cytokine generation in vitro and in vivo. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 2001;65:2137–45.
10. Nakano M, Itoh Y, Mizuno T, Nakashima H. Polysaccharide from Aspalathus linearis with strong anti-HIV activity. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 1997;61:267–71.
11. Nakano M, Nakashima H, Itoh Y. Anti-human immunodeficiency virus activity of oligosaccharides from rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) extracts in vitro. Leukemia 1997;11(Suppl. 3):128–30.
12. Pierce A. The APhA Practical Guide to Natural Medicines, NY: Stonesong Press Book, William Morrow & Co., Inc., 1999.
13. Duke JA, Bogenschutz-Godwin MJ, duCellier J. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs, 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2002.
Last Review: 11-07-2012
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