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Research Findings

Rooibos Tea as an Anti-carcinogen Project

Rooibos Tea as an Anti-carcinogen Project

After eight years of research, we are officially recognising Rooibos as a source of chemicals that can help to prevent cancer in both humans and animals. We are fortunate that Rooibos is an indigenous South African tea that is affordable and easily accessible to the public at large.

Current Research on Rooibos

Professor Gelderblom of the PROMEC Unit of the Medical Research Council in Cape Town is conducting research on rooibos. The title of his project is Therapeutic properties of rooibos and honeybush extracts against skin carcinogenesis. Read more..

Progress Made

  • The MRC PROMEC team working on Rooibos has made excellent progress over the past 8 years.
  • Significant world-first discoveries have been made showing that this plant, which is totally unique to South Africa, has great promise as a source of anti-oxidants which in rats can induce a 400% increase in the GSH/GSSG ratio which is absolutely necessary for optimal health. This is especially significant because glutathione cannot be taken orally. It is the body’s own supreme anti-oxidant. Furthermore it has been shown, for the first time, that Rooibos extracts can prevent skin, liver and oesophagus cancers in animals.
  • Glutathione, in the reduced state, is the body’s own antioxidant, but it decreases over time as we age and due to other factors, including smoking. Glutathione is linked to lower heart attack and cancer risk and also counteracts ageing.
  • Our research has found that Rooibos raised the ratio of reduced glutathione to oxidised glutathione by 100% in humans who consumed six cups a day over a period of three months.
  • It is this set of results that excites CANSA and leads to the understanding that Rooibos could help to prevent cancer.

Future Research

  • CANSA intends to continue their Rooibos research after having spent approximately R1.2 million over the past eight years.
  • It is now of great importance to find out if similar biochemical changes take place in humans drinking Rooibos tea on a daily basis. CANSA fully supports the philosophy that prevention of cancer is possible by neutralising carcinogens and also by eating and drinking food and beverages made from plants which contain a host of molecules that inhibit carcinogenesis one way or another.
  • It is also important to find out if Rooibos can help to prevent human cancers such as the recurrence of  colorectal adenomas.
  • Plans are being made by CANSA and the Rooibos Council to jointly conduct research into clinical Rooibos effects in human cohort groups in the future. Questions that need answering include; How many cups of tea per day are needed for optimal reduced-glutathione-ratio enhancement? Can Rooibos tea enhance the reduced-glutathione-ratio in smokers and the elderly? Is there a correlation between drinking Rooibos every day and various aspects of health.

Health Benefits of Rooibos

The health benefits of Rooibos, South Africa’s most famous indigenous tea are unique and phenomenal.

  • Rooibos contains powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals that contribute to heart disease and cancer.
  • It also supplements the recommended daily allowance of calcium, manganese and especially fluoride, essential for the development of strong teeth and bones.
  • In addition, by consuming Rooibos daily, it can help decrease cholesterol, protect the liver, soothe stomach cramps and colic in infants, enhance metabolism, support healthy skin and ease numerous skin diseases.


Get involved

  • Ask a question or make a comment regarding our research in the box at the bottom of this page.
  • Click here to make a secure online donation to support this research project or make a direct deposit to ABSA Bank, Account: CANSA Research, number: 4079965964, Branch: 632005, Reference: Environmental Type B – Rooibos Research.
  • Read more about CANSA research here.


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