An herb grows in South Africa that the locals make into a health-giving tea. The herb is rooibos, and health experts believe it offers benefits far beyond even those of green tea. The Bushmen of Africa have used rooibos since before recorded history, but it has not yet become well-known in the United States.
Research is being done on rooibos in a number of countries around the world, but not in the U.S. While individual Americans are interested in alternative healing methods, the pharmaceutical industry is not interested in natural cures. Herbs and other natural substances which cannot be patented offer no potential profit to Big Pharma.
Rooibos (pronounced roy-boss) is the Afrikaans name for “red bush.” It offers a whole list of health benefits. Here are some:
1. It protects against cancer – Rooibos has nearly 50 percent more polyphenols than green tea. These are the antioxidant chemicals in plants. They fight inflammation. A polyphenols called aspalathin is found only in rooibos. The Cancer Association of South Africa refers to rooibos as “a leading source of anti-cancer compounds.”
2. It reduces heart disease. – One study found oxidative damage, which is implicated in heart disease, decreased up to 50 percent in subjects after drinking six cups of Rooibos tea daily for six weeks. This demonstrates rooibos inhibits atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
3. It reduces inflammation. – Inflammation underlies a number of deadly diseases, from Alzheimer’s and arthritis to cancer and heart disease. Rooibos has been shown to reduce inflammation as much as some of the pharmaceutical pain medications, without the dangerous side effects. One of these pharmaceutical pain relievers was Vioxx, which was a COX-2 inhibitor that blocked the enzyme that increases inflammation. Vioxx was found to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and was pulled from the market in 2004.
In contrast, rooibos is safe enough to be fed to babies. Mothers in South Africa use rooibos to soothe infants’ stomach spasms and colic.
Rooibos is usually made into tea, and it is available in the United States. Rooibos tea is naturally free of caffeine. It has a mild, nutty, sweet flavor.