Johannesburg - The South African Rooibos Council (SARC) has announced it would invest R3 million to commission additional research into the world famous tea’s medicinal and health enhancing properties.
The company said the research would be focusing on rooibos' role in health and sports.
The SARC spokesman, Ernest du Toit, said the more investigation and research made by the company, the more they find new properties.
“We continue with this research,” Du Toit said.
“If you're an athlete, you can use our product before and after a game. It helps by fighting pigmentation and promotes tissue and muscle repair. Using the product you will heal a lot quicker.”
The rooibos council said ongoing research by the SA Medical Research Council into rooibos’ cancer-fighting properties could play a prominent role in curbing this life-threatening disease.
“We will continue looking at its ability to strengthen the immune system and its ability to fight skin and cancers, particularly diabetes, where it breaks down the insulin resistance,” Du Toit added.
“More than 500 million people across the world have type 2 diabetes.
“The SARC has invested tons of money in new products and markets over the years.
“People have over 100 years of consuming it as a tea, but it is actually a herb. Over the last 20 years the SARC has spent more than R30 million.”
Du Toit said science had proven its therapeutic ability to help cancer, protect the liver and heart against disease in general, boost the immune system and relieve allergies.
He said by continuing to invest in research and keeping a close eye on studies done overseas and locally, the SARC would not only be able to provide scientific evidence of the plant’s specific health benefits but produce medicinal and health-enhancing cures for some diseases.
“Rooibos is a unique South African plant, which offers almost limitless health benefits. The plant’s medical properties continue to astound scientists, and I believe we’ve only just scratched the surface of Rooibos’s incredible healing potential.
"We are entering an exciting period of research, which could have a significant impact on the rooibos industry and is sure to pave a bright future for one of SA’s most sought-after herbal assets,” said Du Toit.
About three years ago, the SARC received a Geographic Indicator (GI) status, which protected the name from usurpation while allowing all those involved in the rooibos industry in the region, such as farmers and exporters, to use it without fear of litigation in foreign markets.
“As the guardian of the rooibos sector, we have also lobbied for the protection of rooibos products elsewhere in the world and in 2014, the European Union finally recognised rooibos as a Geographic Indicator, which means that local rooibos manufacturers have exclusive ownership of rooibos trademarks and IP, and that the use of the rooibos name will only be applicable to products that come from South Africa, which are officially approved by DTI, guaranteeing quality control.”
The same trademark protection given to rooibos applies to Honeybush, another tea grown only in the Cape region of South Africa, and Karoo lamb.
Du Toit said rooibos was a uniquely South African plant that grows only in South Africa and nowhere else in the world.
“The money that has been spent so far has been focused on its properties such as anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, anti-stress, anti-cholesterol and anti-obesity.
"It is a local product and quite remarkable.”
The SARC said the focus was to ensure growth in their products, making people healthy and creating jobs as well.