Rooibos Tea Side Effects

Rooibos tea comes from the leaves of Aspalathus Linearis, which is a plant that can be found in the Cederberg Mountains in South Africa. Rooibos means red, so Rooibos tea can also be referred to as red tea or red bush tea.

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Unlike other types of tea that originate from the same plant (Camillia Sinensis), Rooibos tea is considered to be more of an herbal drink than tea. It is renowned for its delicious flavor as well as having a host of health benefits that the casual drinker can expect to experience. Some of these human health advantages include helping alleviate common aches and mild pain, as well as boosting the immune system. However, it does have some risks and side effects, which are the focus of this post.

The following are some of the reported risks and side effects of Rooibos tea that you should be aware of:

There Is Potential for Hepatotoxicity

A 2010 case report in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology cites the potential hepatotoxicity that may develop as a result of drinking Rooibos tea. This is a result of an increase in liver enzymes that go-ahead to damage the internal structure of the organ. Drinking large amounts of herbal drinks led to harmful effects in the patient under review. While case reports do not have as much weight as other types of scientific studies, the lack of extensive human research on Rooibos tea is reason enough to pay close attention to this case report.

As such, if you have liver disease or are currently taking medication, it would be wise to seek medical advice before doubling down on your Rooibos tea intake.

Estrogenic Activity Should be a Cause for Concern among Some Drinkers

There are compounds in Rooibos tea that have been found to exhibit estrogenic activity, meaning that they have the potential of increasing the production of estrogen, a female hormone. Overproduction of estrogen in conditions such as breast cancer could be catastrophic. This is due to the fact that breast cancer is very sensitive to estrogen and having it in excess could spark cancer and increase its rate of growth.

The only caveat to this side effect is that you would have to consume large amounts of herbal drinks every day for a long time before experiencing harmful effects. People with conditions and diseases sensitive to estrogen would have to think twice before considering Rooibos tea.

Antioxidant Activity Should Give You a Pause

Rooibos tea has many antioxidants and this has often been touted as an advantage or benefit. However, these antioxidants may have harmful interactions with chemotherapeutic drugs. This should give anyone currently going through chemotherapy pause and warrant a consultation with a medical doctor for further direction on the way forward.

The Risk of Consumption during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

There is a lack of sufficient research on the effects of Rooibos tea during pregnancy or during lactation. More time and research should be devoted to this before a definitive answer can be given. However, the lack of knowledge on the presence or absence of any side effects might make some steer clear of the herbal drink until they have delivered or finished breastfeeding.


  1. Rooibos is used in baby lotions in South Africa and other skin care products. It has far reaching properties way beyond what we know of. Been drinking it for the past 20 years specifically so that I could breastfeed my child whom would not calm down. It is apparently also good for collic. Anyway, it is an awesome plant, a natural blessing. With no caffeine!

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