QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Does Rooibos contain theaflavins?
Theaflavins are polyphenols formed from catechins present in tea leaves during enzymatic oxidation. Theaflavins occur only in black tea. It is not found in Rooibos.

Does Rooibos mimic the SOD enzyme?
Does Rooibos mimic the superoxide dismutase (SOD) enzyme? What does this mean and what are the particular health benefits? The SOD enzyme is a free radical scavenger and an important antioxidant defence in nearly all cells exposed to oxygen. The antioxidants (in Rooibos and other plant extracts, including other herbal teas, black teas and even coffee and chocolate) have a similar protective effect in vitro. Free radicals are potentially harmful substances that can cause oxidative damage to living cells. Several in vitro and animal studies have already demonstrated the antioxidant ability of Rooibos extracts. Recent research suggests that Rooibos induces activity in the antioxidant enzymes, superoxide dismutase and catalase in cells.

What do the antioxidant polyphenolic compounds in Rooibos do?
According to some reports from South Africa Medical Research Council, the “antioxidant polyphenolic compounds were not necessarily responsible for the anti-mutagenicity in Rooibos”. What does this mean in practice? This means that it is possibly not only the antioxidant polyphenolic compounds that contribute to Rooibos’s anti-mutagenicity (or cancer-fighting ability), but that there could be other (as yet unknown) compounds contributing to this effect.

Is it true that the antioxidant quercetin improves digestion and vitamin C absorption?
Is it true that quercetin (one of the antioxidants found in Rooibos) has an improved rate of digestion and absorption when taken with vitamin C? Studies on the bioavailability of the active ingredients in Rooibos are underway (not funded by the South African Rooibos Council) but do not (at present) include investigating the effect of vitamin C.

How real are the health benefits in Rooibos?
What claims can be made in terms of the anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, anti-allergic, antibacterial, anti-ageing and anti-asthmatic properties of Rooibos? Many recent research articles on Rooibos – addressing many of these claims – have been summarised on the South African Rooibos Council’s website (www.sarooibos.co.za). The summaries are substantiated by peer-reviewed research, with references. Although the effect of Rooibos has been proven, we cannot always attribute this to a specific compound. Note that most of these studies have been done in vitro or using animal models. The first clinical trial in adults at risk of heart disease was led by Dr Jeanine Marnewick at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology during 2007 and 2008. Results from this study show that drinking six cups of Rooibos per day significantly decreases the risk of heart disease.