Added to his food, incorporated into recipes or used topically, rooibos tea offers a range of benefits.

Have you ever tried rooibos tea? Also known as African Red Bush or Aspalathus linearis, rooibos is an indigenous plant from South Africa, where an herbal tea made from the leaves has been enjoyed for generations. More recently, rooibos tea has become popular in other parts of the world, including North America, largely because of its purported health benefits for both people and dogs.

Rooibos is best known for its antioxidants properties, although research has shown that it offers other advantages as well (e.g., “Rooibos Tea as a Likely Health Food Supplement”, redbushtea.com/pdfs/redbush_research_ papers/paper_10.pdf).

“The biggest potential benefits are antioxidant content in general, and some liver protection,” says veterinarian Dr. Nancy Scanlan. “Rooibos tea contains no caffeine or tannins.”

It’s rich in vitamin C, and boasts two flavonoids called quercetin and luteolin, which have cancer-fighting properties. “Quercetin is (also) nature’s natural antihistamine,” adds dog behaviorist and wellness advisor Karen Rosenfeld.

Rooibos has been shown to help with allergies and hot spots, digestive issues and stress in people and dogs. Some holistic veterinarians are recommending rooibos as a safe alternative to allopathic cortisone.

“Rooibos tea is my number one choice of herbal tea for daily use as part of a healthy diet for dogs,” says Karen. “All the dogs in my own pack have organic rooibos tea added to their meal once a day. This rich red tea is an anti-inflammatory with the power to help fight allergies and cancer, and boost the immune system.” She adds that rooibos may also help with skin and bone health, supports the heart and renal systems, and eases psychological stress.

HOW TO GIVE ROOIBOS TEA TO YOUR DOG

Rooibos is finding its way into a growing number of health products for dogs, including treats, shampoos and anti-itch oils. You can also buy rooibos as loose leaves or powder and make your own tea at home.

“Simply brew the tea, allow it to cool, store it in a glass jar in your refrigerator, and add it to your dog’s meals,” says Karen. “The liquid tea can also be used topically in the form of a soothing rinse or soak to help ease skin discomfort like itching, scratching and hot spots, or as a soak for irritated paws. The tea powder can be combined with a little aloe vera juice to make a soothing compress.” Karen adds that you can also add rooibos to your dog’s diet by making your own treats.

Rooibos is definitely worth checking out, and chances are, your local health food store will have it.

Summary of potential Rooibos benefits:

• It’s anti-inflammatory and anti-viral.

• Relieves stress – it’s naturally relaxing.

• It’s anti-spasmodic and can help soothe an upset stomach.

• Rooibos tea is rich in minerals such as calcium, manganese and fluoride for good bone health.

• This tea has anti-mutagenic properties and may fight cancer.

• Rooibos boosts blood circulation and helps prevent hemorrhaging.

• It’s great for skin and helps with the treatment of hot spots, itching and dry skin.

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