Rooibos: Better Than Green Tea For Many Reasons

When I hiked Table Mountain on my last trip to South Africa, the locals told me about an herb that is better than green tea that kept them disease-free.

African Bushmen have used this herb since before recorded history, but it’s still pretty rare here in America.

Studies on this plant are being done all over the world. But not in the U.S.

Because Big Pharma and the FDA aren’t interested in a natural cure that can’t be patented — or profited from.

What is This South African Herb?

I’m talking about an herb called Rooibos — or red bush in Afrikaans. Rooibos (pronounced roy-boss) provides a whole lot of health benefits. Most importantly, it:1,2


  • Protects against cancer
  • Reduces heart disease
  • Eases inflammation
  • It even calms down crying babies!

Most often prepared as a tea, some people like to compare it to green tea. But it’s much better than green tea and more powerful.

Cancer-Proof Your Cells

Polyphenols are the antioxidants in plants that help prevent cancer, improve heart function and fight deadly inflammation. Turns out Rooibos tea has almost 50% more polyphenols than green tea!

And one of these polyphenols — aspalathin — is only found in Rooibos. The Cancer Association of South Africa calls it “a leading source of anti-cancer compounds.” 3

In a groundbreaking study, researchers fed two groups of mice a carcinogen that causes cancer. They gave the first group plain water to drink. The second group got Rooibos in their water.

What happened next was amazing.

After a few weeks, there was a dramatic difference in the two groups. The mice that drank plain water had angry-looking tumors all over their skin. But the cancer disappeared in the Rooibos-fed mice! 4

Another study found that applying Rooibos to mice with skin cancer reduced tumors by 70%. In fact, manufacturers in other parts of the world are starting to add Rooibos to skincare products like soaps and sunscreens.5

Rooibos Reduces Hardening of the Arteries

But Rooibos does more than protect against cancer — it’s also great for your heart.

Researchers in Sweden gave volunteers two cups of Rooibos tea. In less than an hour, ACE activity — which is highly linked to cardiovascular disease — was drastically reduced.6

Interestingly, the team couldn’t duplicate this ACE-inhibiting effect with any other tea — including green tea. This tells me there’s something unique about Rooibos!

Another study found that two major blood markers that indicate oxidative damage linked to heart decreased up to 50% in volunteers who drank six cups of Rooibos every day for six weeks. This means Rooibos can help slow down atherosclerosis, or the hardening of arteries.7

Ease Inflammation Safely

One of the main causes of any disease — from Alzheimer’s and arthritis to heart disease and cancer — is inflammation. But thanks to its high levels of antioxidants, Rooibos is a powerful anti-inflammatory.

In fact, Rooibos has the same inflammation-busting abilities of some of Big Pharma’s most dangerous pain relievers.

Remember Vioxx… the arthritis drug pulled from the market in 2004 because it significantly increased your risk of heart attack and stroke?  

Well, Vioxx was a COX-2 inhibitor. COX-2 is an enzyme that increases inflammation. Researchers found that Rooibos inhibited the activation of the COX-2 enzyme in human cells — but unlike dangerous drugs, Rooibos is safe enough to feed an infant.

In fact, back in South Africa, I learned lots of mothers use Rooibos tea to soothe their baby’s stomach spasms and colic.

Enjoy the Benefits of Rooibos at Home

Rooibos tea is naturally caffeine-free. It has a nutty, mildly sweet flavor that tastes good with honey or lemon.

The tea is easy to make in a few simple steps. For one cup:


  1. Bring 8 ounces of water to a full boil in a kettle.
  2. Add 1 to 1½ rounded teaspoons of Rooibos leaves to the kettle. You probably won’t find Rooibos on your grocery store shelf, but it’s easy to order the herb online.
  3. Let the brew steep for about 5 minutes.
  4. Pour through a tea strainer into your cup and enjoy.

A quick note… You may enjoy the taste of milk in your tea, but I don’t recommend it. A study found that adding milk to green tea reduces the availability and effectiveness of antioxidants in the drink. There aren’t any studies regarding milk and Rooibos, but it’s fair to assume the same results apply.8

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD

Al Sears, MD, CNS

1. Marnewick JL. An investigation on the antimutagenic properties of South African herbal teas. Mutat Res. 2000 Nov 20;471(1-2):157-66.
2. Baba H. Studies of anti-inflammatory effects of Rooibos tea in rats. Pediatr Int. 2009 Oct;51(5):700-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-200X.2009.02835.x.
3. Hong IS1. Anti-oxidative effects of Rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) on immobilization-induced oxidative stress in rat brain. PLoS One. 2014 Jan 21;9(1):e87061.
4. Marnewick J. 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 Jun 28:224(2):193-202.
5. Rooibos Research Around the World. Research Findings. December 2009.
6. Persson, I.A., et al. 2010. Effects of green tea, black tea and Rooibos tea on angiotensin-converting enzyme and nitric oxide in healthy volunteers. s. 3(5);730-7.
7. CPUT News. Results of CPUT trial confirm the health benefits of Rooibos. Cape Peninsula University of Technology. December 2008.
8. Egert S. Eur J Nutr. 2013 Feb;52(1):281-8.