This article first appeared in Business Day and was written by Karl Gernetzky, Education Writer. I thought it worth sharing …
Drinking rooibos tea has anti-anxiety and stress-relieving benefits, researchers at Stellenbosch University have found.
Many who drink the tea have long claimed relaxing side-effects, but the evidence has been anecdotal until now. A research team at the university’s biochemistry department, led by Prof Amanda Swart, has identified compounds found in rooibos that interfere with the production of cortisol, the so-called stress hormone.
While cortisol production is a normal part of human metabolism and plays a role in regulating glucose production and blood pressure, abnormally high levels are often present due to stressful lifestyles, Prof Swart says.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone, and imbalances in these hormones are associated with numerous conditions including hypertension, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Aspalathin and Nothofagin Only Found In Rooibos Tea
Two compounds in rooibos tea — aspalathin and nothofagin — contribute to the stress-lowering effect, Prof Swart says. Aspalathin has not been found in any other plant material, while nothofagin has a very limited distribution in nature. Prof Swart says while the cortisol-lowering effect has been shown only under simulated laboratory conditions, her team is working towards publishing evidence of this effect in humans. Unlike many other plants containing medicinally useful compounds, to date there have been no negative effects from rooibos consumption, she says.
This implies that people suffering from stress-related conditions can benefit from the therapeutic effects of drinking rooibos, along with a healthy lifestyle, she says.
The South African Rooibos Council said research over the past decade had proven the ability of the tea to help prevent cancer, protect liver against disease, boost immune systems, relieve allergies and treat digestive disorders. But rooibos “is not a medicine”, council research chief Marina Joubert said yesterday.
The council allocated R3m annually for rooibos-related research, and had allocated R235 000 over the past two years to Prof Swart’s team, she said.
For more info on the Rooibos council, click here.
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