In the battle against coughs and sniffles this winter season, a third of South Africans cited Rooibos tea among their top three colds and flu fighting strategies.
This was revealed in a national survey conducted by a leading health firm specialising in colds and flu remedies. According to the survey which polled almost 2 000 respondents, South Africans' first reaction to a cold is to:
load up on vitamin C,
get enough rest and,
sip on a hot cup of Rooibos mixed with honey, lemon and/or ginger
But, can drinking Rooibos really help you get over your cold quicker?
Scientists seem to think so. Studies suggest that it has potent antioxidant, antiviral and immunomodulating effects, which enhances the body's natural defence system.
Rooibos is packed with polyphenols, which are micronutrients with antioxidant activity. Polyphenols act as scavengers of free radicals throughout the body, which are detrimental by-products of cell metabolism that can cause a host of ailments. Aspalatin and nothafagin are two vital antioxidants found in Rooibos tea, making it a great beverage to boost immunity, whilst protecting the body against all types of diseases.
Adele du Toit, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council says there is also plenty of anecdotal evidence which suggests that drinking Rooibos daily could help stave off the common cold. "The fact that a third of respondents polled swear by it, makes for a compelling argument." Another factor to keep in mind when you do have a cold or flu, is to load up on caffeine-free liquids to stay hydrated. Du Toit notes that caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, Ceylon tea and energy drinks, should be avoided since caffeine is a diuretic, which can deplete your body of fluid. Don't drink a hot toddy either, since alcohol is equally dehydrating. To keep your fluid levels balanced, rather opt for water, an electrolyte drink or Rooibos, which is 100% caffeine-free.
"Remaining properly hydrated when ill will help replace lost fluids from sweating (if you have a fever) and a raised metabolism as your body increases its internal level of activity to battle the infection. Look out for signs of dehydration, such as thirst, dry lips and skin, headaches, lethargy and decreased urination," she says. Sore throats and other aches and pains that are characteristic of colds and flu, could also benefit from Rooibos tea. Drinking the tea will keep your throat moist and help to reduce irritation.
Furthermore, Rooibos' calming effect on the body could also help to alleviate tension and thus promote better sleep, which is essential to get over a cold.
If you're struggling with a sore throat, feeling congested or downright miserable, try the following Rooibos remedies:
A cup of strong Rooibos 1 tsp of lemon 1 tsp of honey ½ tsp of preferably fresh ginger (try a full tsp if it's not too strong for you) A pinch of cayenne pepper
Method: Pour boiling water into a cup or mug, add one Rooibos teabag and let it steep for at least 5 to 6 minutes. Add a teaspoon of lemon, honey, ginger and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
*If you prefer something cold, make your own herbal ice lollies or ice chips using the same Rooibos tea combination as above.
ROOIBOS, STRAWBERRY AND ORANGE SMOOTHIE
Ingredients for one serving
1 – 2 Rooibos tea bags 125 ml boiling water 225 g frozen strawberries ½ a peeled and chopped orange 125 g silken tofu 1 tbsp vanilla protein powder 1 tsp liquid honey, optional