Rooibos (Aspalathus Linearis) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects

Rooibos (Aspalathus Linearis) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects

Rooibos (Aspalathus Linearis) Overview

Rooibos (Aspalathus Linearis) other names: Aspalathus linearis, Aspalathus contaminatus, Borbonia pinifolia, Green Red Bush, Infusion Rooibos, Kaffree Tea, Psoralea linearis, Red Bush, Rooibos Rouge, Rooibos Tea, Té Rojo, Té Rojo Rooibos, Thé Rooibos, Thé Rouge.

Rooibos is a plant that has little therapeutic value. Rooibos tea is not only appreciated by people for its excellent flavor, but also because the beverage does not have any unwanted effect on the body or mind. Normally, the dehydrated leaves and the fine stems are used as tea. Despite the popularity of the tea, earlier, there was some confusion over its name. However, this has been settled now and it has been agreed that henceforth the plant would be generally known as Aspalathus linearis. Occasionally, the rooibos plant is also called Borbonia pinifolia Marloth or Aspalathus contaminate.

Rooibos (Aspalathus Linearis) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Rooibos (Aspalathus Linearis) flower

Rooibos is a shrub that belongs to the Fabaceae family and is said to have its home in the South African mountainous terrains. Currently, the shrub is found in other parts of the world too where rooibos is cultivated for its flavor. In fact, the plant rooibos is now widely cultivated, especially in the Cedarberg Mountains close to the Clanwilliam district of South Africa. Normally, the plant grows to a height of approximately six feet and has spiny leaves that transforms to brick red color when they are damaged or crushed.

The rooibos plant is harvested in late summer or during autumn. After harvesting, the long stalks of the plant are chopped into smaller parts. The cut stems along with the leaves are then moisturized, crushed and then left to ferment for some time. After the fermentation, the substance is left out in the sun to be dehydrated. The end product is the rooibos tea that is prepared like the common or ordinary tea. The rooibos tea may be drunk straightforwardly by adding sugar and milk as according to the aficionado's personal liking. However, the taste for the rooibos tea essentially needs to be acquired or developed by the consumer.

Rooibos tea is liked all across South Africa as well as in some other parts of the world owing to its superb flavor and also because of the fact that it has insignificant tannin content. The beverage is also highly refreshing. The tannin content in the rooibos is approximately five per cent and, unlike the common tea and coffee, it is complete free from the presence of caffeine. In addition to these advantages, the rooibos also encloses significant amount of vitamin C. The content of vitamin C has been found to be approximately 0.0016 per cent. The rooibos tea is most acceptable to people who wish to have a refreshing hot drink that is free from tannin as well as caffeine.

It is interesting to note that the rooibos tea encloses more than 37 natural or common antioxidants, several minerals, vitamin C and alpha-hydroxy acid (a natural acid in which a hydroxyl acid is connected to a carbon atom). Unlike other beverages like tea and coffee, rooibos tea does not possess caffeine and contains very less proportion of tannin.

Rooibos (Aspalathus Linearis) Health Benefits

Rooibos is used as medicine for HIV infection, for preventing cancer, and for preventing the decline of thinking skills with age.

Rooibos is valued for its multi-purpose remedial effects. Rooibos is an anti-viral, anti-allergy and anti-anxiety mediator. The plant is widely recommended as a supplementary medication while treating syphilis as it inhibits common inflammation (swelling and irritation) and reduces pain. However, the herb does not cure the disease. Rooibos is also effectual in treating mental disorders related to old age. 

In addition, preparations from the rooibos are frequently used as a alternate for milk for children who are inclined to suffer from stomach aches or colic. The herb is also said to have an anti-spasmodic action as it relieves cramps. Researches have shown that rooibos is also beneficial in reducing the hazards of heart disease and other conditions related to aging. Proof regarding the last two functions of the herb is increasing with each research or study on the herb.

As mentioned above, rooibos has several remedial benefits. The therapeutic benefits of the herb for precise health conditions are listed below.

Rooibos (Aspalathus Linearis) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Rooibos (Aspalathus Linearis) plant

Researches have shown that it is possible that rooibos impedes the release of histamine, an organic derivative of ammonia discharged by immune cells producing allergic reactions. In fact, the release of histamine is said to be liable for nasal congestion as well as stomach disorders during allergic effects and anxiety. Hence, this property of rooibos makes the herb immensely beneficial for everyone suffering from food allergies and respiratory allergies. The herb is also useful for smaller children, as the tea prepared with rooibos is known to be safe, mild and uncontaminated.

A couple of studies conducted by Japanese scientists have found that rooibos is active against or combats the human immunodeficiency virus. The polysaccharide (a complex carbohydrate) amalgams present in rooibos thwarts the HIV from sticking to its intended or target cells in the body. In addition, the polysaccharides are more active and useful in dilutions that are totally uncontaminated or free from all toxicity to the vigorous human tissues.

Interestingly, the tea prepared from rooibos is well-liked and accepted by all, including herbalist, common consumers as well as medical practitioners, in South Africa during bed time. This is possibly owing to the fact that the beverage prepared with the herb helps in stimulating sleep. Researches have shown that rooibos induces sleep straightforwardly by influencing the metabolism (the process by which ingested food is transformed into energy) of acetylcholine (a substance known to be a transmitter of nerve impulses) in the brain and thwarting the disproportionate discharge of neurons responsible for wakefulness. 

In some other way, rooibos provokes sleepiness by obstructing the reactions of the hormones that lead to pain and irritation or inflammation. It has been observed that rooibos is useful in curing insomnia, which is caused by drugs for Alzheimer's disease. However, here is a word of caution. The tea prepared with rooibos should be used for this purpose only after consultation and consent of the physician.

Rooibos (Aspalathus Linearis) Side effects

Rooibos (Aspalathus Linearis) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Rooibos (Aspalathus Linearis) picture

Rooibos is available in the market in tea form and has similarities with the black tea. Akin to black tea, rooibos too slows down the absorption of iron from the consumed food. However, rooibos is less effective than the black tea in soaking up iron from the ingested food. Hence, people suffering from deficiency of iron and related diseases should try to avoid drinking the rooibos as well as black tea. Drinking any of the two beverages may be detrimental for their health as they are likely to further bring down the iron content in their system.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of rooibos during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.