Student Proves That Rooibos Tea Could Help Dogs Who Suffer From Diabetes

12-year old student at Cornwall Hill College, Zaria, was in the car one day with her mother when she overheard a radio discussion about a diabetic woman managed her insulin levels naturally by drinking rooibos tea on a regular basis. The Zaria’s family Labrador, Jesse, is diabetic. She also needs regular insulin injections. So, the two decided to see if rooibos tea could help her as well. And Zaria needed no extra encouragement to tackle this as her school science project. (1) 

“Insulin is very expensive. So we decided to give Jesse rooibos tea and see if it would help cut down the amount of insulin that she needed to save us some money,” shares Zaria. “We found studies done on diabetic rats that showed green rooibos to work the best for managing their insulin levels. Which is why we decided to use green rooibos ourselves.” (2) 

Zaria fed Jesse and three other diabetic dogs one cup of green rooibos diluted in three cups of water everyday for four weeks. During this time, all four dogs continued to take their diabetic medication to see exactly what effect the rooibos had. All four dogs proved to benefit medically from this experiment. But Jesse, in particular, responded so well. Today she is taking her lowest dose of insulin since her diagnosis earlier this year.

“If supplementing with green rooibos could reduce the amount of insulin that a diabetic dog would require. It would not only save dog-owners high medicine costs, but their dogs would experience fewer side-effects too. Rooibos is a natural, healthy and much more affordable product to give pets,” explains Zaria mother, Caroline. (3)

Nireshni Chellan is a Senior Scientist at the South African Medical Research Center. She has been studying the effects of rooibos on diabetes for several years. She explains how a rare antioxidant only found only in the rooibos plant, aspalathin, is one of the critical phyto-chemicals that contributes to rooibos’ anti-diabetic properties. (4)

“Rooibos is still intensively being studied across a broad spectrum of anti-diabetic activities which are supported by studies in diabetic rodents and therefore we simply cannot ignore the findings of this budding scientist. The prospect of rooibos as a type 2 diabetes adjunctive therapy is certainly promising and to simply speculate is no longer sufficient. Thus the findings from our human trial ear-marked for 2018 are highly anticipated. Stay tuned for that,” shares Chellan.

Although the true potential of rooibos is still in trial, the initial results are clearly positive. What’s better? You won’t put yourself in harms way by using rooibos tea to manage your pet’s (or even your own) insulin levels. Just remember to speak to your medical professional before you start. You have to continue with your regular insulin treatment, regardless of how much rooibos you consume initially.


Currently, an estimated 1 in 14 people between the ages of 21 and 79 suffer from diabetes in South Africa, while a reported 750 000 are affected by Alzheimer’s. While the two may seem unrelated, a recent study from Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University found a link between the new type 3’ diabetes (insulin resistance in the brain) and Alzheimer’s disease.

Prof Christo Muller, Chief Specialist Scientist at the SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC) says phenolic compounds present in rooibos enhances the body’s antioxidant defences helping to fight a variety of oxidative stress-induced conditions – such as type 3 diabetes. “The brain is one of the organs most sensitive to oxidative stress, and long-term exposure to increased levels of free radicals causes damage to neural cells. Dietary antioxidants, such as those found in rooibos, could thus protect vulnerable neurons against the impact of oxidative by-products.”

There continues to be research on the positive effects rooibos can have on individuals suffering from diabetes, and even though there’s still a lot of research to do, its ability help cases of type 3 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease seems to be on a similar path.

Once again, this product continues to make South Africa proud by proving to the medical community just why it’s so important for a healthy lifestyle.

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