Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Aspalathin, Aspalathus acuminatus, Aspalathus contaminata, Borbornia pinfolia, chrysoeryol, Fabaceae/Leguminosae (family), hyperoside, isoorientin, isoquercitrin, isovitexin, Kaffree tea, long life tea, luteolin, orientin, Psoralea linearis, quercetin, red bush tea, redbush tea, red tea, rutin, vitexin.
An increasingly popular beverage, rooibos tea originates from the leaves and stems of the indigenous South African plant Aspalathus linearis. It has gained much attention for clinical purposes in the case of nervous tension, allergies (dermatitis), and various indigestive problems. Rooibos tea contains a large amount of flavonoids and acts as a potent antioxidant. In Africa, it has been used to treat malignancies and inflammatory disorders.
Rooibos (pronounced ROY-boss) is not a natural source of caffeine and is low in tannins. Rooibos tea may be preferred by people who can not tolerate either the caffeine effects or astringency of Camellia sinensis teas.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Allergic dermatitis, allergies, antioxidant, asthma, cancer, colic, diaper rash, digestive problems, eczema, headache, hepatoprotection (in liver disease), HIV/AIDS, hypertension (high blood pressure), infections, insomnia, kidney stones, nervousness, vascular disorders (blood vessel disorders, prevention in diabetics).
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
There is no proven safe or effective dose of rooibos. Traditionally, 1 teabag or teaspoon to 8 ounces of hot water has been used.
Children (younger than 18 years)
There is no proven safe or effective dose of rooibos in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to Aspalathus linearis, its constituents or related members of the Fabaceae/Leguminosae family. Other members of this family include peas, soybeans, clover, and peanuts.
Side Effects and Warnings
Little evidence is available to describe the adverse effects of rooibos. Rooibos is likely safe when ingested as a tisane (herbal infusion) in food amounts. However, use cautiously in patients taking drugs or herbs metabolized by cytochrome P450 enzymes, as there is unclear evidence whether or not rooibos affects these enzymes.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Rooibos is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
There is mixed evidence on whether or not rooibos affects P450 metabolism. In theory, rooibos may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be increased in the blood, and may cause increased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. Patients taking any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
There is mixed evidence on whether or not rooibos affects P450 metabolism. In theory, rooibos may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of other herbs or supplements may be too high in the blood. It may also alter the effects other herbs or supplements possibly have on the P450 system, such as bloodroot, cat's claw, or chamomile. Patients taking any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Bramati L, Aquilano F, Pietta P. Unfermented rooibos tea: quantitative characterization of flavonoids by HPLC-UV and determination of the total antioxidant activity. J Agric Food Chem 2003;51(25):7472-7474. View Abstract
Bramati L, Minoggio M, Gardana C, et al. Quantitative characterization of flavonoid compounds in Rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) by LC-UV/DAD. J Agric Food Chem 2002;50(20):5513-5519. View Abstract
Edenharder R, Sager JW, Glatt H, et al. Protection by beverages, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flavonoids against genotoxicity of 2-acetylaminofluorene and 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) in metabolically competent V79 cells. Mutat Res 2002;521(1-2):57-72. View Abstract
Joubert E, Winterton P, Britz TJ, et al. Antioxidant and pro-oxidant activities of aqueous extracts and crude polyphenolic fractions of rooibos (Aspalathus linearis). J Agric Food Chem 2005;53(26):10260-10267. View Abstract
Kucharska J, Ulicna O, Gvozdjakova A, et al. Regeneration of coenzyme Q9 redox state and inhibition of oxidative stress by Rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) administration in carbon tetrachloride liver damage. Physiol Res 2004;53(5):515-521. View Abstract
Kunishiro K, Tai A, Yamamoto I. Effects of rooibos tea extract on antigen-specific antibody production and cytokine generation in vitro and in vivo. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 2001;65(10):2137-2145. View Abstract
Lee EJ, Jang HD. Antioxidant activity and protective effect on DNA strand scission of Rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis). Biofactors 2004;21(1-4):285-292. View Abstract
Marnewick J, Joubert E, Joseph S, et al. Inhibition of tumour promotion in mouse skin by extracts of rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) and honeybush (Cyclopia intermedia), unique South African herbal teas. Cancer Lett 2005;224(2):193-202. View Abstract
Marnewick JL, Batenburg W, Swart P, et al. Ex vivo modulation of chemical-induced mutagenesis by subcellular liver fractions of rats treated with rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) tea, honeybush (Cyclopia intermedia) tea, as well as green and black (Camellia sinensis) teas. Mutat Res 2004;558(1-2):145-154. View Abstract
Marnewick JL, Gelderblom WC, Joubert E. An investigation on the antimutagenic properties of South African herbal teas. Mutat Res 2000;471(1-2):157-166. View Abstract
Marnewick JL, Joubert E, Swart P, et al. Modulation of hepatic drug metabolizing enzymes and oxidative status by rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) and Honeybush (Cyclopia intermedia), green and black (Camellia sinensis) teas in rats. J Agric Food Chem 2003;51(27):8113-8119. View Abstract
Na HK, Mossanda KS, Lee JY, et al. Inhibition of phorbol ester-induced COX-2 expression by some edible African plants. Biofactors 2004;21(1-4):149-153. View Abstract
Standley L, Winterton P, Marnewick JL, et al. Influence of processing stages on antimutagenic and antioxidant potentials of rooibos tea. J Agric Food Chem 2001;49(1):114-117. View Abstract
Ulicna O, Greksak M, Vancova O, et al. Hepatoprotective effect of rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) on CCl4-induced liver damage in rats. Physiol Res 2003;52(4):461-466. View Abstract
Ulicna O, Vancova O, Bozek P, et al. Rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) partially prevents oxidative stress in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Physiol Res 2005; View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017