Rooibos tea is known to be caffeine free with abundant flavonoids. Aspalathin and nothofagin, the main flavonoids contained in Rooibos tea, have stronger anti-oxidative activity than other flavonoids. As oxidative stress can induce inflammation, the anti-inflammatory effects of Rooibos tea were investigated using a rat colitis model.
Seven-week-old Wister rats were divided into two groups: one group given Rooibos tea, and one given water. After four weeks of breeding, serum superoxide dismutase (SOD) levels were determined using the Electron Spin Resonance analysis. Urine 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) concentrations were also determined as reflections of DNA damage using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Furthermore, rats were administrated dextran sodium sulfate (DSS), which is known to induce colitis in rodents, with or without Rooibos tea to evaluate its anti-inflammatory activity. Clinical symptoms, hemoglobin, serum iron and SOD levels were compared between the groups.
There were no significant differences in bodyweight gain or laboratory data between the groups. The serum SOD levels were significantly increased, and urine 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine levels were significantly decreased in the Rooibos group compared with the controls (P < 0.05 in each). After DSS administration, the serum SOD levels were significantly higher in the Rooibos group compared to the controls (P < 0.05). As a result, a decreased hemoglobin level, observed in the control group, was prevented in the Rooibos group after the DSS challenge.
Rooibos tea may prevent DNA damage and inflammation by its anti-oxidative activity in vivo. As Rooibos tea is free from caffeine, routine intake may be safe and useful in reducing oxidative stress in children.