Rooibos plays a part in reducing stress levels

Rooibos plays a part in reducing stress levelsDuring 2012 researchers at the biochemistry department for Stellenbosch University discovered that Rooibos is able to reduce the production of Cortisol, a steroid hormone secreted by the adrenal gland also known as a stress hormone, which may prevent a number of stress-related diseases.

Professor Amanda Swart and her team of researchers from the university, found that Rooibos contains components that can help alleviate stress and anxiety. Rooibos extracts and compounds were tested in the laboratory on adrenal cells that were stimulated to mimic a stress response similar to that which occurs in humans. It was found that Rooibos lowers the production of Cortisol in the cells.

Aspalathin and Nothofagin, two rare components in Rooibos, were identifi ed as contributing to the stress-lowering effect. By lowering Cortisol levels, the effect of the body’s response to stress is also lowered. The fi ndings were published in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology during 2012.

According to Swart, Cortisol is a signifi cant part of the human metabolism and plays an important role in the way humans respond to stress. Swart says Cortisol helps regulate fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism. Studies of the consumption of Rooibos in humans have shown the beverage was able to lower the production of the stress hormone. However, she emphasises that the steroid hormone can be overproduced due to a stressful lifestyle which is linked to a number of diseases such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and Diabetes Type 2. She says keeping Cortisol at normal levels in the blood stream is key to a healthy lifestyle.

According to Marina Joubert, science communicator of the South African Rooibos Council, Rooibos contains antioxidants that fi ght against lifestyle diseases and protect the body from oxidated stress. She says research over the last 10 years has proven the herb can assist in preventing cancer, protect the liver against disease, boost immune systems, delay ageing, relieve allergies and treat digestive disorders.

Joubert is however adamant that despite all benefits of the herb, Rooibos should not be seen as a substitute for medicine and should not be positioned as a medicine but rather, with its preventative and curative properties as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Researchers recommend that six cups of tea should be consumed throughout the day for Rooibos to be effective. Joubert admits not everyone is able to drink six cups a day, and says alternative ways of consuming it include having it in meat dishes, in potjiekos, as a marinade and in fruit juice.

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