Professor Jeanine Marnewick – Rooibos Antioxidant Research
Professor Jeanine Marnewick is a senior researcher in the Antioxidant Research Group at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and one of our strongest allies in Rooibos research. In 2007, she ran a clinical trial on Rooibos, which led to her finding that Rooibos may help prevent cancer. She emphasised the following health benefits, already known and proven for Rooibos at that time:
• It is naturally caffeine free.
• It has a low tannin content.
• It has a unique mix of antioxidants.
• It has powerful antioxidant and cancer-fighting properties.
• It protects living cells against oxidative stress.
• It can slow down the development of skin cancer.
To date Rooibos health research focused on laboratory work and animal studies. Her challenge was to verify these health benefits in people.
Professor Marnewick and her team decided to focus on the potential benefit of Rooibos in heart disease, because it is one of the top five causes of death in South Africa. She outlined the clinical trial in which 41 adults, including herself, participated. This pioneering study focused on the potential of Rooibos to protect against oxidative stress and inflammation associated with the development of heart disease in people. Each participant in the trial had one or more risk factors for developing heart disease, but not at a level requiring medication. Examples of these risk factors include raised serum cholesterol levels, pre-hypertension, overweight/obesity, inactive lifestyle or a family history of coronary heart disease.
During a 16-week period participants had to follow a restricted diet to exclude other antioxidants as far as possible. Their food and drink intake, as well as blood test results, were closely monitored during the trial. During a key part of the study the participants drank six cups of Rooibos per day. At other times they drank mainly water and beverages without significant antioxidant content. The researchers then compared their test results for these different periods and found that drinking six cups of Rooibos per day showed an increase in antioxidants, proving Professor Marnewick’s theory that Rooibos has strong cancer-fighting properties.
Professor Marnewick continues her research into the health benefits of Rooibos today and is constantly making breakthroughs in the research of this powerfully healing herb.