Rooibos (Afrikaans for 'red bush'; scientific name Aspalathus Linearis) is a member of the legume family of plants, and is commonly used to make an infusion in the same manner as tea. It belongs to the Aspalathus plant group, which consists of more than 200 species originating in the Cedarberg mountains of South Africa.
The leaves of the bush are harvested, bruised, and left in the sun to oxidise, after which they acquire their red colour. The resulting product is then boiled or steeped like tea to make a beverage that is enjoyed both hot and cold.
Rooibos has also found its way into health and beauty products, and was used extensively by the ancient San (Bushmen) of the region. It is free of caffeine, contains Aspalathin, a flavonoid present in medicinal herbs used to treat skin and circulatory disorders. It is low in tannin, which inhibits absorption of minerals, and is often used during breastfeeding to supplement iron levels, and contains traces of fluoride, calcium and manganese
Japanese reseach into the effects of Oligosaccharides, also found in Rooibos, indicates that these compounds may aid the immune system fight viral infections.
Rooibos is rich in Super Oxide Dismutase (S.O.D.), a powerful antioxidant
Other purported benefits include:
- Anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties
- relief of hay fever, asthma and allergies
- relief of insomnia and nervous tension
- relief of constipation, stomach cramps and colic in infants
- easing skin conditions including acne, eczema and nappy rash
A definite effect on the gut can be evidenced in adults if drunk in excess (6 cups or more per day, in my case) as you will find yourself with mild to moderate gut pain if you do.