Liver Health

Updated 07 August 2014

Rooibos can protect and support the liver

Rooibos can protect the liver and has the potential to be used as a supporting treatment for liver disorders, a new study by the Oxidative Stress Research Centre in Cape Town has found.

A recent study at the Oxidative Stress Research Centre, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), has proven the ability of rooibos to improve liver function and protect the liver against oxidative damage.

In this 10-week study, 80 male rats were treated with a liver-damaging chemical known as t-BHP (Tert-butyl hydroperoxide). The study showed that giving these rats access to rooibos (instead of water) helped to protect the liver against structural, enzymatic and biochemical damage, and could even reverse some of the damage already present in the liver.

The findings of the study have been published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The full scientific paper is available online.

"These findings provide biological evidence that rooibos can protect the liver and that it has potential to be used as a supporting treatment for liver disorders," says Dr Wale Ajuwon, researcher at CPUT, who led this investigation as part of his doctoral study.

Liver disorders

"Liver diseases and drug-induced liver injuries are a leading cause of death around the world, and synthetic drugs used to treat liver disorders often cause further damage to the liver," Dr Ajuwon points out. "That is why it is so exciting to present this evidence that rooibos can be used as a liver protector and an adjuvant therapy for the treatment and management of liver disorders."

"Although this study was done in animals, they give us insight into mechanisms of what might be taking place in the human body and I believe that they are useful to make recommendations to people."

Dr Ajuwon came to South Africa in 2010 to study at CPUT. Three years later he is an avid rooibos fan and is now also encouraging his friends and family in Nigeria to have at least six cups of rooibos every day. "I encourage them to drink rooibos, because it is safe and contains a plethora of polyphenolic antioxidants that have been shown scientifically to have beneficial effects," he says.

Dr Ajuwon studied at CPUT under the leadership of Prof Jeanine Marnewick, one of South Africa’s foremost researchers in the field of rooibos and oxidative stress.

This study was funded by CPUT.

- (South African Rooibos Council press release)


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