Rooibos Tea Benefits
1. Packed with Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Properties
One of the root causes of disease across the board is inflammation. That, coupled with oxidative stress (free radical damage), can be attributed to a large number of diseases. I’ll say it over and over again — feeding your body with nutrients that fight inflammation and oxidation is the best way to prevent disease.
Rooibos tea functions as both an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant, protecting your cells from damage by free radicals and reducing inflammation. (1)
Quercetin is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant plant pigment (flavonoid) found in many foods and plants, one of which is rooibos tea. Its uses seem nearly endless, as it’s used to treat the following: “conditions of the heart and blood vessels including ‘hardening of the arteries’ (atherosclerosis), high cholesterol, heart disease, and circulation problems… diabetes, cataracts, hay fever, peptic ulcer, schizophrenia, inflammation, asthma, gout, viral infections, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), preventing cancer, and for treating chronic infections of the prostate.” (2)
2. Improves Heart Health
One of rooibos’ benefits is that it’s great for your heart. Rooibos tea contains chrysoeriol, a flavonoid that decreases blood pressure and improves blood circulation. It’s also be linked to lowering bad cholesterol levels. A 2012 study conducted by the Department of Anatomy and Histology at Daegu Haany University’s College of Korean Medicine in Korea found that rooibos helps decrease the occurrence of hypertension by regulating hormones secreted from the adrenal gland. (3)
Heart health is especially important in patients with diabetes. One common complication of diabetes is atherosclerosis, a form of arteriosclerosis that causes hardening and inflammation of the arteries caused by high glucose levels. Aspalathin and nothofagin, two chemical compounds present in rooibos tea, have significant effects on inflammation of the entire vascular system and are thought to be key in treating possible complications from diabetes relating to the heart.
Aspalathin is an extremely novel antioxidant, as it’s only found in rooibos and no other food or beverage. It not only helps protect against vascular inflammation, but protects the heart against oxidation and ischemia (a lack of blood supply to the heart) related to diabetic cardiomyopathy. (4) This disease, known commonly as DCM, is an unfortunately common complication of diabetes.
3. Treats and May Prevent Diabetes
Strongly connected to rooibos’ ability to strengthen your heart is its direct effect on diabetes. When tested against both diabetes and cancer, rooibos tea showed “significant therapeutic potential for either the prevention of the onset of the two diseases or their progression,” according to research published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. (5)
Fascinatingly, another study in 2013 conducted by the Department of Applied Life Science at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology’s Graduate School of Agricultural Science focused specifically on the impact of aspalathin, finding a very strong possibility that aspalathin specifically has anti-diabetic potential. (6)
This research, along with further studies, show rooibos tea makes a great addition to any diabetic diet plan.
4. May Prevent Cancer
Remember quercetin, the plant pigment found in rooibos used to treat a ton of diseases? Many doctors report effectively prescribing it in supplement form to treat cancer, as it suppresses malignant tumor growth by stopping the processes involved in cell mutation. (7, 8)
In addition, rooibos tea seems to help the immune system produce antibodies necessary to prevent and heal from cancer, allergic reactions and even AIDS. (9)
5. Aids in Digestion
The typical Western diet contributes to a surge of digestive disorders and problems not commonly found in other areas of the world that have healthier dietary practices. Your digestive system is susceptible to many problems that are made worse by diets rich in processed foods, chemicals and the other sneaky villains found in much of the food Westerners commonly consume.
The best way for your body to operate at optimal digestive health is to eat nutrient-rich foods free of the problematic chemicals and ingredients that processed foods contain.
Drinking rooibos tea is one helpful way to maintain good digestive health, especially if you suffer from frequent abdominal pain or diarrhea. Several compounds found in the tea operate as anti-spasmodic nutrients, preventing abdominal pain and reducing the occurrence of diarrhea. (10)
6. Supports Strong Bones
Rooibos tea contains many minerals that support the growth of healthy bones, including manganese, calcium and fluoride. One well-known benefit of all teas is increased bone strength, because tea increases “osteoblast activity.” (11) Osteoblasts are cells that create bone mass, so increased activity in these cells means that bones are stronger, denser and healthier.
But beyond the general benefits of all teas, rooibos tea contains two specific flavonoids, orientin and luteolin, that increase mineral content in bones. (12) This is especially significant because rooibos tea contains no caffeine, meaning that it can potentially be given to patients unable to consume other traditional teas.
7. Helps You Lose Weight
One of the three compounds that burn belly fat that I like to share with people are polyphenols, antioxidants found in a variety of foods (including rooibos tea). Because of these flavonoids (one subset of polyphenols), rooibos tea is one of my favorite fat-burning foods, and I think it’s a great idea to use it in place of green or black tea to expand your wellness routine.
In a study to discover how the nutrients in rooibos tea fight obesity, South African researchers found that consuming rooibos causes increased leptin secretion. Leptin is known as the “satiety hormone” and is part of how your body knows it has had enough to eat. Rooibos tea also prevented new fat cells from forming and caused existing fat to metabolize faster, according to the findings published in Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology. (13)
8. Treats Allergies
As I mentioned before, the same impact rooibos has on the immune system in fighting cancer also helps treat allergies. Quercetin is capable of blocking “mast cells,” which are immune cells critical in triggering allergic reactions. In fact, quercetin may have a huge anti-allergenic potential and treats allergies as effectively as some prescribed medications without side effects. (14)
Interestingly, the bioflavonoids (another term for flavonoids) are useful both for treating seasonal allergy symptoms and food allergies, as well as asthma and skin reactions.
9. Keeps Skin and Hair Young
Many people throughout the world consume rooibos tea for its benefits for skin and hair, as the alpha hydroxy acid found in rooibos tea isn’t extremely common in other foods. This type of acid is safest when consumed in natural sources, rather than used in dangerous processed methods, such as chemical peels. Because of this alpha hydroxy acid and prevalent antioxidants, rooibos tea has a significant effect on wrinkle reduction. (15) In addition, its antioxidant properties protect hair follicles from damage.