New research funding tests Rooibos health claims

The SA Rooibos Council invested over R2 million in research in 2010 in an ongoing programme to find out more about the properties, applications and cultivation of South Africa’s unique herbal brew.

“There’s a need to gather reliable information on the kind of scientific evidence required to substantiate health claims on product packaging, as well as in advertising in different countries,” said product research director Mientjie Mouton.

Six product research grants, totalling R974 705, were awarded to two existing and four new research projects. These grants were in addition to the R1,2 million already allocated to research on plant improvement, integrated pest management, and organic cultivation practices, said the SA Rooibos Council.

Of the six latest South African research grants, two existing projects examine the cancer-preventing properties of South African herbal teas and quality parameters for rooibos. Four new research projects will examine the influence of rooibos on stress and exercise and its hygienic processing, and determine the make-up of rooibos tea.

“Future research challenges for rooibos include exploring its anti-allergic properties and immune-boosting effects,” said Mouton.