Zaria Rule and her dog, Jesse, whose diabetes symptoms reportedly improved after drinking rooibos.
WHEN Zaria Rule tested green rooibos tea on several diabetic dogs, including her own, as part of a school science project, no one could have guessed the results.

Since her dog Jessie was diagnosed with diabetes in 2015, her energy levels had been low and she preferred to sleep her days away.

One afternoon, following a radio interview she had heard about the benefits rooibos could offer diabetics, the 12-year-old decided to test the effects on Jesse, thinking it would make the perfect topic for her school science project.

The Grade 7 pupil from Cornwall Hill College in Centurion proceeded to put it to the test.

She fed Jesse and three other diabetic dogs - whose owners volunteered to participate in the project - one cup (250ml) of green rooibos, diluted with another three cups of tap water, a day over four weeks.

The dogs were not forced to drink the preparation, but all seemed to enjoy the taste and often their drinking bowls were refreshed twice a day.

Rule specifically used green rooibos since previous studies found it had the most effective extract in lowering raised blood glucose levels in diabetic rats.

“Jesse responded so well that we were able to reduce her dose of insulin treatment to 10 units twice a day, the lowest dose we’ve ever given her,” said Rule.

She said before adding rooibos to Jesse’s diet, her blood sugar levels were very low - almost to the point where she was hypoglycaemic.

“When we first started supplementing with rooibos, her blood sugar levels were all over the place, but by the end of the four weeks they were more stable than ever.

“She was her old self again and had an abundance of energy. The other dogs responded in a similar way,” said Rule.

Since then, green rooibos has become a firm favourite of Jesse’s, and Rule tries to give her a cup as often as she can.

Rule would love to continue her research over a longer period and with more dogs, to reach more conclusive findings, but is limited by the costs and the availability of a blood test that can conclusively prove the effects of the rooibos tea.

Her mom Caroline said some dog owners probably viewed it as a crazy idea and might not have the energy or discipline to adhere to the daily feeds and testing, but what if the end result is successful?

Rule’s project helped to create awareness among the public that diabetes also affected animals, and that the early detection of the condition could save and significantly improve the quality of their lives, she said.

Rule was also honoured at this year’s annual Department of Trade and Industry symposium. She presented her project findings to delegates, who applauded her for her efforts, at the Industrial Development Corporation in Sandton.