Login
 
 
     
 
03.jpg

Honeybush research

Researchers are working towards positioning honeybush as a unique herbal tea that can compete in local and foreign herbal tea markets based on its quality, taste, flavour and health benefits. Research is necessary to verify and support all the health benefits of honeybush tea with rigorous scientific evidence, so that this unique South African product can rightfully claim its positive health effects on tea markets around the globe.

Since about 1996, scientists have been investigating the chemistry and health properties of honeybush. At first, they focused on the polyphenols in honeybush – well-known antioxidants that are able to protect living cells against cancer – and have found conclusive evidence that it can prevent or interrupt the development of cancer.

Researchers also started unravelling its complex chemical make-up and found clues that honeybush could help relieve menopause-related symptoms and protect post-menopausal women against cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. That is because honeybush contains a number of known phytoestrogens (phyto = plant). These plant compounds bind to the oestrogen receptors in the body and can imitate the effects of human oestrogen.

The major anti-oxidant in honeybush is mangiferin, a compound that is also found in mango, but otherwise not common in our diet. Because of its novelty value and the relatively high quantities in honeybush, mangiferin-enriched extracts have huge potential as an ingredient in future designer foods, nutraceuticals and cosmetics.

Scientists are also trying to understand exactly how the compounds in honeybush interact inside living cells – that is how they are absorbed and broken down in the body.

Scientists have found that traditional tea processing (an oxidation process) reduces the antioxidants in tea and therefore often uses green (unoxidised) honeybush to prepare antioxidant-rich extracts for research purposes.

On the cultivation and production side, researchers are also working hard to improve quality and productivity in the honeybush industry through breeding programmes and improved cultivation methods. An important focus of production research is sustainability – both for farming and for wild-harvesting.

The bulk of honeybush research in South Africa is done at the Agricultural Research Council, in collaboration with scientists at the Medical Research Council and several universities.

Researchers

  • Honeybush cultivation and community development
    Marlise Joubert (ARC): This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Honeybush processing, chemistry, quality and bioavailability
    Professor Lizette Joubert (ARC): This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Honeybush breeding programme and nursery
    Cecilia Bester (ARC): This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Assessment of Honeybush production potential in an area
    Gillian McGregor, Rhodes University: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Honeybush as a phytoestrogenic nutraceutical
    Dr Ann Louw, Stellenbosch University: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Anti-cancer properties of honeybush
    Dr Wentzel Gelderblom, Medical Research Council: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Recent honeybush research references (chronological, most recent first)

  • Sissing, L; Marnewick, J; De Kock, M; Swanevelder, S; Joubert, E and Gelderblom, W. 2011. Modulating Effects of Rooibos and Honeybush Herbal Teas on the Development of Esophageal Papillomas in Rats. Nutrition and Cancer, 63: 4, 600 — 610, First published on: 2 May 2011 (iFirst)
  • Marnewick, JL. 2010. Rooibos and honeybush: Recent advances in chemistry, biological activity and pharmacognosy. In: African natural plant products: New discoveries and challenges in chemistry and quality. Juliani, H.R., Simon, J.E., Ho, C.T. (Eds). ACS Symposium Series Volume 1021, American Chemical Society, Washington DC, USA, pp 277–294.
  • Kokotkiewicz, A & Luczkiewics, M. 2009. Honeybush (Cyclopia sp.) – A rich source of compounds with high antimutagenic properties. Fitoterapia 80 (2009) 3 – 11.
  • Joubert, E, Gelderblom, WCA, Louw, A, De Beer, D, 2008. South African herbal teas: Aspalathus linearis, Cyclopia spp. and Athrixia phylicoides – A review. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 119, 376–412.
  • Joubert, E, Gelderblom, WCA, Louw, A, De Beer, D, 2008. Phenolic contribution of South African herbal teas to a healthy diet. Natural Product Communications 4, 1–18.
  • McKay, DL, & Blumberg, JB, 2007. A review of the bioactivity of South African herbal teas: Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) and Honeybush (Cyclopia intermedia). Phytotherapy Research 21, 1–16.
  • Van der Merwe, JD, Joubert, E, Richards, ES, Manley, M, Snijman, PW, Marnewick, JL, Gelderblom, WCA. 2006. A comparative study on the antimutagenic properties of aqueous extracts of Aspalathus linearis (rooibos), different Cyclopia spp. (honeybush) and Camellia sinensis teas. Mutation Research, 611, 42–53.
  • Marnewick, JL, Joubert, E, Joseph, S, Swanevelder, S, Swart, P, Gelderblom, WCA, 2005. Inhibition of tumour promotion in mouse skin by extracts of rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) and honeybush (Cyclopia intermedia), unique South African herbal teas. Cancer Letters 224, 193–202.