Brew a Cup of Health
The well-loved Chinese tradition of tea drinking dates as far back as 2737 BCE. Legend has it that a servant of Emperor Shennong was boiling water for him to drink when a leaf from a wild tea bush fell into the water. Adoring the scent, the Emperor took a curious sip of the brownish coloured water and found it absolutely refreshing.
Since then, tea has found its way across the globe, and South Africa has its own unique brew of tea that has garnered fame for multiple reasons.
Rooibos, which means “red bush” in Afrikaans, is an African herb that grows from the Aspalathus Linearis shrub. As it is only found in the Cedarberg region of the Western Cape, rooibos is a unique South African commodity. It is therefore no wonder rooibos tea is a popular drink found in many South African homes, not only for its refreshing taste but health benefits as well.
Such scientific interest in rooibos, however, is said to have been kept a secret until after 1968, when Dr Annique Theron used rooibos to help soothe her baby’s colic. After realising the healing powers of the tea leaf, she published a book, Allergies: An Amazing Discovery.
“Rooibos contains trace minerals including iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, calcium, and sodium. It is completely pure and natural and contains no additives, caffeine, calories, preservatives, or colourings. It is also free from genetic modifications,” proudly states the Redbush Tea Company. “Rooibos also has less than half the amount of tannin found in black tea, a substance that not only leaves a bitter aftertaste but can also prevent the absorption of iron and protein in your diet.”
Rooibos is also as hydrating as water and counts towards your suggested eight glasses a day. So, what exactly can rooibos tea do for you? Here are just a few health benefits:
Lowers Blood Pressure
Drinking rooibos tea is a natural remedy for lowering stress, nervous tension, and hypertensive conditions. According to Organic Facts, “Rooibos tea acts as a bronchodilator. It not only relieves respiratory conditions but also reduces blood pressure.” High blood pressure can lead to dangerous cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and atherosclerosis.
A study in the European Journal of Nutrition states that rooibos tea was shown to decrease the activity of the angiotensin-altering enzyme, which constricts blood vessels contributing to high blood pressure, therefore suggesting that rooibos tea is good for your cardiovascular health.
Treats Gastrointestinal Disorders
Rooibos tea is rich with antispasmodic agents, known to ease stomach pain. Furthermore, Health24 recently highlighted how researchers in Pakistan, Canada, and Germany worked together to explore how rooibos tea could actually teat gastrointestinal upsets – like gut spasms. They found that the biochemistry of how the flavonoids and other active compounds in rooibos “achieve a calming effect on the digestive system”.
Maintains Bone Health
As the redbush is full of calcium, manganese, and fluoride minerals, it can help maintain strong bone structure and teeth. “By increasing the bio-availability of minerals in your system, you can reduce your chances of developing conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis, and chronic joint pain,” explains Organic Facts.
As rooibos contains high amounts of antioxidants, it has the potential to prevent cancer from developing. According to the Rooibos Council, “The complex mixture of polyphenols in rooibos may help protect against free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage the DNA in cells, leading to cancer.”
Furthermore, CANSA reported that after eight years of research they are officially recognising rooibos as “a source of chemicals that can help prevent cancer in both humans and animals. We are fortunate that rooibos is an indigenous South African tea that is affordable and easily accessible to the public at large.”
The uncommon antioxidant, Aspalathin, is found in rooibos tea and it has a list of abilities. It can assist in balancing blood sugar, and progress insulin resistance and glucose absorption by our muscles. “It also boosts the insulin secretion from the pancreas. This results in an ideal defensive shield against developing type II diabetes. By balancing blood sugar, rooibos tea can furthermore protect people that already have diabetes by preventing the spikes and drops in blood sugar that are detrimental to their overall health,” states Organic Facts.
There are many other health benefits of rooibos tea. And while rooibos is not a medicine and should not replace such, Prof Elizabeth Joubert from the Agricultural Research Council says, “It is an affordable drink with potential health-promoting properties. Research is ongoing to find all the answers about this unique South African product.”
Rooibos tea acts as a bronchodilator. It not only relieves respiratory conditions but also reduces blood pressure.