SOUTH AFRICA – The South African Rooibos Council (SARC) will be investing R4.5 million (US$317, 515) in rooibos tea in efforts to identify the potential of the indigenous tea in the prevention of diseases risk factors.

According to a report by Business Day, the three year research running from 2019-2022 will focus on reduction of allergies, heart disease, diabetes and skin cancer through utilisation of the indigenous tea.

According to Joe Swart, SARC research director, the research will capitalise on the growing utilisation of natural derivatives as solutions to sector.

“Due to the large and growing use of natural derived substances for healthy living all over the world, it is imperative that the SARC obtains reliable data as to rooibos’ healing potential, since many other herbal-based treatments lack definitive evidence.

We want to provide both healthcare practitioners and patients with sufficient proof of rooibos’ efficacy in helping to prevent and manage certain diseases. Over the last decade the SARC has invested significantly in research to do just that,” Swart said.

Scientists working on the beverage will also investigate the effect of rooibos intake on micro-organism inhabiting the gastro intestinal tract and its potential in reduction of side effects caused by antiretroviral therapy.

Swart said that the research centre will build on the success of previous research on the indigenous tea to advance into intervention trials on humans in the final phase of the research.

The intervention trial will determine the quantity of rooibos, equivalent to a cup of tea, is required in a condensed form to yield similar results compared to nutraceuticals to support heart health.

The trial is expected to commence on august this year and findings made public by the end of 2022 is instrumental in understanding the in providing alternative dietary solutions in prevention of cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Rooibos, also classified as a herbal tea, has been identified with elevated health benefits associated with its rich antioxidants and phytochemicals load different from other teas, fruits and vegetables.

Rooibos tea is particularly rich in phytochemicals such as flavonoids and polyphenols which contribute to its health benefits.

According to Professor Amanda Swart from the Biochemistry Department at Stellenbosch University, cardiologists could soon be prescribing Rooibos as part of the therapeutic approach to tackle cardiovascular disease owed to its high health benefits.