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Rooibos

Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) is a semi-sweet tea touted for its potent antioxidant properties; despite being highly palatable and marketed, the poor absorption of the main bioactive (aspalathin) suggests a limit to its health promoting properties.

Our evidence-based analysis on rooibos features 65 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Rooibos

Primary Information, Benefits, Effects, and Important Facts

Rooibos tea is a tea brewed pretty much exclusively from the plant Aspalathus linearis, and it is becoming a more popular beverage to drink in part due to its taste (being semi-sweet and less bitter than green and black tea) and having a low to no caffeine content, as well as marketing suggesting its antioxidant properties are healthful.

When looking at the main claim, the bioactives in Rooibos appear to be relatively potent antioxidant but even when tested in vitro (outside of a living body) they are not as potent as the green tea catechins; the main bioactive, aspalanthin, also has a pretty poor absorption in living models which limits how it can increase plasma oxidation capacity. The antioxidant potential of Rooibos is present, but both lacklustre as well as unreliable.

There are some potential benefits to drinking this tea even when low absorption is considered. It is said that the tea can alleviate intestinal distress and it does appear to have some relaxing effects in the intestines, but there is no evidence in humans at this point in time (and for that claim, peppermint would be a more prudent option). It appears to inhibit glucose absorption from the intestines as well, which may be an anti-obesogenic and anti-diabetic property, but no human studies exist at this point in time.

Currently, Rooibos is interesting due to being a palatable tea option but there is not enough evidence to support much health benefits associated with it aside from the standard beneficial (and small of magnitude) changes to unhealthy persons that are seen with any antioxidant compound.

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How to Take

Medical Disclaimer

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

Not enough information is known to evaluate the optimal dosage or Rooibos as a tea or as a supplement, although it appears that the minimum effective dose in humans has been a cup of tea brewed from 750mg of the plant.

A daily intake of 750-3,000mg of the tea leaves, preferably in multiple doses with meals, might be optimal

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Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what effects rooibos has on your body, and how strong these effects are.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-b Minor Low See all 3 studies
A decrease sometimes occurs, although this has not been noted in all instances. The decrease in healthy persons is minor and lasts for about 5 hours, whereas it may be more prominent in persons at risk for cardiovascular disease
grade-c
Minor
- See 2 studies
A decrease may occur in persons at risk of cardiovascular disease with daily ingestion of Rooibos tea, although at least one study noted an inexplicable acute increase in otherwise healthy persons (faded within an hour of ingestion).
grade-c Minor Moderate See 2 studies
Increases HDL-C in persons at risk for cardiovascular disease to a small amount, does not appear effective in otherwise healthy persons
grade-c Minor Moderate See 2 studies
A decrease in LDL-C has been noted to a minor degree in persons at risk for cardiovascular disease, but there is no inherent reduction in LDL-C in otherwise healthy persons.
grade-c Minor - See study
A decrease in lipid peroxidation has been noted following oral ingestion of Rooibos tea
grade-c Minor Moderate See 2 studies
May decrease total cholesterol to a small degree in unhealthy persons
grade-c Minor Moderate See 2 studies
A minor reduction of triglycerides occurs with daily ingestion of Rooibos tea only in unhealthy persons
grade-c - - See study
Despite ACE inhibition, Rooibos tea does not appear to significantly reduce blood pressure
grade-c - - See study
No significant alteration in C-reactive protein
grade-c - - See study
No significant alterations in heart rate are seen with Rooibos ingestion
grade-c - - See study
No significant alterations in nitric oxide levels with acute ingestion of Rooibos tea to otherwise healthy persons.
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on uric acid is seen with Rooibos tea ingestion.
grade-d - - See study
Rooibos tea does not appear to be significantly better than the water it is brewed in at restoring hydration in athletes

Studies Excluded from Consideration

  • Confounded with Dandelion extract[1]

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Things to Note

Is a Form Of

Also Known As

Aspalathus linearis, Red Bush Tea

Do Not Confuse With

Astaxanthin (sounds similar to aspalathin and is also red)

Caution Notice

Known to interact with drug metabolizing enzymes

  • Rooibos oral ingestion has been confirmed to reduce the AUC of midazolam in plasma, indicating an increase in CYP3A activity

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Click here to see all 65 references.