Rooibos is located in a small corner of South Africa and must be harvested by hand, for the proliferation of plant life prohibits the entry and operation of machinery. Rooibos can be used when green for its beneficial health components, but in its mature state, when it's red, it contains other varied health benefits. Rooibos can be used raw, when the leaf is cut, to rub onto the skin to treat rashes, cuts and abrasions. The leaves can be ground and brewed as a tea or they can be made into an aromatic for the alleviation of symptoms of bronchitis, asthma and allergies.
The scientific name for Rooibos is: Aspalathus linearis. The plant closely resembles a broom and is a member of the legume family. The leaves are oxidized, producing the red color, which gives it a somewhat nutty flavor. When green, the leaves are not oxidized and have a grassy, malty type flavor. It is common to see Rooibos consumed as tea. Without milk and sugar, the tea is sweet enough but many people still choose to add milk as this is what they are used to. Rooibos makes a nice iced tea as well. Coffee shops even use it, brewing it into espressos and lattes; because it is caffeine-free, it makes an excellent before bed beverage.
Rooibos contains vitamins and minerals such as zinc, copper, calcium, manganese, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C. It also contains fluoride, which, in combination with calcium and manganese, help build strong bones and teeth. Rooibos contains polyphenols which is known to be anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral. All of those long words means cancer-fighting properties as well as immune system strengtheners, one thing which is known to help with anti-cancer treatments. Indeed, there is some evidence that Rooibos' components quercetin and luteolin could prevent cardiovascular disease and stroke. Its component rutin has been seen to help with the maintenance of blood vessels walls.
The leaves of the plant have alpha hydroxy in them, which benefits the skin. Cuts, abrasions, rashes, acne, eczema and sunburn are just a few of the conditions that would benefit from the use of rooibos. Not only that, but alpha hydroxy has shown substantial evidence of helping with the aging process. When made into tea, it is not acidic, unlike normal black tea that contains tannins, meaning that infants can drink the tea with milk to put them to sleep or adults could drink the tea for use with insomnia. Those with kidney stone problems can drink it as well, as it leaves behind no sediment common to the formation of kidney stones.
Relieves respiratory problems
Yet another benefit of Rooibos tea lies in its flavonoid content. Flavonoids have the anti-spasmodic properties highly sought by asthmatics, those with bronchial problems requiring a bronchodilator, and those suffering from allergies. Anti-inflammatory properties help in these cases, too. A cloth moistened in the hot tea and inhaled is said to be beneficial in these instances.
In a blog post, Lähettänyt JLL of Inhuman Experiment wrote of the benefits of Rooibos tea:
- Prevents DNA damage
- Cardiovascular protection through ACE inhibition
- Suppresses fasting glucose levels
- Improves glucose uptake and insulin secretion after a meal
- Aids in liver tissue regeneration
- Lowers blood pressure
- Inhibits lipid peroxidation and brain aging
- Rooibos extract improves immune defects such as HIV
WebMD states that while not all the properties of Rooibos tea and leaves have been tested on humans, on lab rats tested for various conditions pertaining to the effects of the plant, there is quite some evidence that the plant can live up to its reputation. Historic fact states that in the 17th and 18th centuries, immigrants to the Cape area of South Africa praised the locale for its wealth of "beneficial plants". Indeed, Japan and other countries in the East have been using Rooibos for quite some time, whereas only recently has the tea been introduced in England and the United States. Of course, upon its arrival testing had to be performed to ascertain its healing properties and as such, the testing continues. Again, historic fact gives evidence of those healing properties.